Published Oct 21, 2016"Things keep ending up this way," growls Jonathan Davis, kicking off Korn's 12th studio album, a line that could sum up Korn's postmillennial career. Even flirtations with top-line pop and EDM producers haven't been able to truly flip the script on the Bakersfield, CA quintet's surprisingly malleable stomp and snarl. And with good reason — whatever your feelings about the band, there's no denying that the group have articulated the pain and confusion that comes from broken homes, mental illness and sexual and substance abuse as well as anyone.
The Serenity of Suffering continues that streak. It's a strong offering from a band now into their third decade together, well past the sell-by date of most of their nu-metal peers. The album's only real surprise is a vocal turn from Corey Taylor of Slipknot, the only other group from that much-derided genre that can really say the same. Still, that's faint praise for a band that did, at one point, sound like a truly vital force in aggressive music.
Serenity starts out strong. The keyboards the band have employed over the last few years give things an appropriately gothic flavour, and first single "Rotting in Vain" moves with the vitality of the band's better days — Davis' speaking-in-tongues freak-out feels earned, rather than a piece of fan-service — but its mid-section sags, and even the bangers feel like pale imitations of Korn's best work.
If you're still listening to Korn (or just coming across their music for the first time), Serenity is certain to scratch an itch. Still, there's a sense of "good enough" with all of their recent releases, and it's a problem this record just can't shake. (Roadrunner)