Perhaps more so than any other band, Korn is inextricably linked to the nu-metal movement of the late 1990s; a movement they helped spearhead and sonically define, whether they like that to be their legacy, or not. Originating in Bakersfield, California, circa 1993, Korn was born when vocalist Jonathan Davis and guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch joined forces with guitarist James ‘Munky’ Shaffer, bassist Reginald ‘Fieldy’ Arvizu and drummer David Silveria, all three of whom had played in a defunct funk metal band named L.A.P.D. With the help of producer Ross Robinson, the quintet unknowingly codified the building blocks of nu-metal on their hugely influential self-titled debut from 1994 (its dissonant, down-tuned guitars, angst-ridden vocals, and intensely rhythmic approach — everything but the DJ and turntables, in fact) and its even more successful follow-up, ‘Life is Peachy’ (1996). But it was ’98’s Billboard Chart-topping ‘Follow the Leader’ that took Korn stratospheric (on the strength of an estimated 14 million copies and counting) paving the way to the band’s own Family Values festival, a pair of Grammy awards, and no end to media attention over the ensuing years, shored up by additional studio albums like 1999’s ‘Issues’ and increasingly experimental ‘Untouchables’ (2002) and ‘Take a Look in the Mirror’ (2003). Then, in the early weeks of 2005, guitarist Head shockingly announced his retirement from Korn after finding religion — just as the group’s deal with Sony Music was expiring and internal relationships were at their most strained, casting some doubt upon the band’s future. But by the end of the year, Korn had rebounded as a quartet with their first of two releases for Virgin Records, ‘See You on the Other Side’ and an untitled 2007 album recorded without drummer Silveira, who himself had recently departed. Ray Luzier was eventually recruited to replace him and debuted on 2010’s back-to basics, Ross Robinson-produced ‘Korn III: Remember Who You Are,’ which was itself followed by another radical musical departure via 2011’s dub step-influenced ‘The Path of Totality.’ No matter where they took their sound though — backwards or forwards — Korn was now firmly entrenched as one of the heavy metal scene’s cornerstone bands. Their sheer sales figures and popularity may no longer match the heady days of the late 1990s, but the group plowed ahead in 2013 with their eleventh studio album, ‘The Paradigm Shift,’ and even welcomed back guitarist Head after a decade removed from the group — suggesting everything really does come full-circle, in the end.
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