Far beyond its own success, Pearl Jam opened the doors to countless smart but thuggish guitar bands that could claim alt-rock cachet while playing music otherwise likely to be shoved in metal slots and ignored by trend-conscious Lollapaloozers. California’s Korn, a quintet from Huntington Beach with the majority of its membership alumni of a band called LAPD, has a grip on the thrash-hop of bands like Rage Against the Machine as well as the raw rock aggression of Northwest powerhouses and the theatrical rap of Cypress Hill. Fused together under the guidance of producer Ross Robinson, Korn’s multiple personalities form a fiery ball of teeth-gritting anxiety that refuses to relinquish its anger. On the self-titled debut, singer Jonathan Davis (who also contributes bagpipes to the intro of nursery-rhyming “Shoots and Ladders”; the album’s other stylistic lark is the Gregorian chant that begins “Daddy”) is an unrepentant howler in the great grindcore tradition — his nominal voice is harshly grating, his frantic bellows are real window-rattlers. Bassist Fieldy uses a gated mechanical sound that helps articulate the rhythm/riff roar of two loud guitars; drummer David Silveria (who’s done moonlight time in Infectious Grooves) hammers it all home with authoritarian control. Most of the lyrics on Korn are generic animosity, and blow by without incident — except for “Faget.” Following a seething verse that ends with “You got this pretty boy feeling like I’m enslaved/to a world that never appreciated shit/you can suck my dick and fucking like it!,” Davis finishes the song with repeated screams of “I’m just a faggot!” Whatever.
See also: Suicidal Tendencies