Korn Live In London

Nu metal bastions revisit their pioneering debut

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It’s packed to bursting point in the Academy tonight. For a generation of metal fans of a certain age, the thrill of watching the album that gave birth to the nu metal movement is as great as seeing, say, Metallica perform Master Of Puppets in its entirety.

It really is that big a deal. As great as it is that this music is being reappraised, SUNFLOWER DEAD [4] are a reminder of why it was so divisive in the first place. ‘Wacky’ costumes and an accordion player are favoured over actual songs; they’re more reminiscent of budget nu metal copycats like Godhead or Dry Kill Logic than tonight’s headliners.

SNOT [8], on the other hand, were there from the beginning. 1997’s Get Some is as good as late 90s metal gets, and would surely be huge if it weren’t for the tragic death of enigmatic vocalist Lynn Strait soon after its release. Tonight they finally get to play Brixton and you’re reminded how inventive, passionate and, still, contemporary songs like Absent, Snooze Button and Stoopid were. Current vocalist Carl Bensley does a decent job of replicating him, but what a star Strait would have been.

To hell with nostalgia, KORN [8] are in as good form in 2015 as they’ve ever been. But the screams that erupt as that iconic cymbal ushers in Blind, and they begin to retread the steps of 21 years ago, tell you that this is going to be a real one-off ‘I was there’ event. And the first half is superb, Ball Tongue, Clown, Divine and Faget all still measuring up to their 1994 vintage. The second half, though, is not quite as stellar. Firstly, songs like Predictable and Fake are pure filler, and secondly you get the feeling that Korn just aren’t the same band anymore. Jonathan Davis laid the demons of this record to rest some time ago and the band now have a back catalogue filled with huge party anthems (as they exhibit by tearing the roof off and encoring with Falling Away From Me, Here To Stay and Freak On A Leash). That being said, album closer Daddy, a song Davis claimed he would never perform, still sends a chill through the spine with the sheer ferocity its delivery. Tonight is a timely reminder not only of why Korn were so beloved all those years ago, but also of why they’ve endured long after many of their peers.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.