Two and a half years have gone by since Korn’s last release The Nothing and much has transpired in that time. There’s the constant cancelling and rescheduling of shows for starters, then the hiatus of Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu that began before their last tour due to personal issues. On the bright side, Jonathan Davis has become happier since losing his ex-wife and mother back in 2018; two misfortunes that served as major inspirations for the bleakness of The Nothing. That newfound sense of optimism serves as a major creative force behind Korn’s newest release Requiem according to Davis, taking the band in a new direction thematically, and perhaps conceptually too.
“Forgotten” opens up the record; a track that’s still identifiably Korn with a twist, a shift in stylistic direction that suggests a new sonic chapter beginning- or perhaps just for this record, who knows. “Let The Dark Do The Rest” reflects on Davis’ past suffering in hindsight, oscillating between classic menacing Korn riffs and surprising melodic breaks while the first single “Start The Healing” looks towards personally rebuilding while packing a heavy punch at the same time.
Davis’ clean, harmonic vocals continue to be an effective contrast against Head and Munky’s thick wall of guitar and Ray Luzier’s piledriving drums on “Lost In The Grandeur” while leftover bits of darkness from The Nothing show through on “Disconnect”. “Hopeless And Beaten” isn’t exactly a cheery track either as you can imagine, although there are some cool Staleyian harmonies on the chorus that lighten the mood a touch. “Penance To Sorrow” treads closer to classic Korn, as does the slamming “My Confession”; both of these set the tone for the closer “Worst Is On Its Way”. The “Rotting In Vain”-esque album ender may seem dreary on the surface, but Davis still exits on a positive note: “It makes me sick/But I deal with it/Set it all aside/My confidence overrides”.
Requiem, while not reinventing the wheel cannot be called a run-of-the-mill Korn record either. It undoubtedly has a more optimistic perspective (by Korn standards) than previous records, not shying away from pain but seeing hope beyond it and pushing through instead of being overcome by it. Sonically there’s a lot to pay attention to as numerous elements of the Korn sound get reworked and twisted around, generating some musical developments that could steer the band in interesting directions over the next couple albums. There’s a lot of questions and interpretations that can come out of this record, but one thing’s for sure: Wherever Korn is going after this record, it’ll be worth paying attention to- and likely listening to when the next album comes.