Follow the Leader, by KoRn
Suggested by Andy Scott-Morrissey
Let’s play a game. Can you recognise the vocalists from the following transcriptions of their vocal filigree?
Number One: Shamown-ah! HEE-hee!
That’s right, it’s Michael Jackson. An easy one for starters.
Number Two: Sha-na-na-na-na-na-knees, knees!
Tougher one… that’s Axl Rose, from Guns n’ Roses. Specifically, Welcome to the Jungle.
Number Three: Fah-diddley-quaqua, fah-diddley-quaqua!
Another toughie… Adam Ant, from Adam and the Ants.
Number Four: BadabadabaDEEEE Dab-dab dadab-boh, Dab-dab dadab-boh.
That’s Scatman John, of Scatman fame.
And finally, Number Five: RRrrumm-digga-DIGga, RRrrumm-digga-DIGga, RRrrumm-digga-DIGga.
That’s right, it’s Jonathan Davis from KoRn. Although I suspect you’d have got that whatever I said, because I’m reviewing a KoRn album after all.
KoRn are not new to me. I remember enjoying this album a lot, back in the day. Predictably, my favourite song was Freak on a Leash, and nothing has changed in that regard. From the fizzy drums and the opening spooky guitar harmonics, through to Jonathan Davis’s strangled emo vocal, into the large and guttural chorus replete with heavily distorted guitars, the song is Prime Nu Metal, an almost quintessential stamp on the genre. And of course, this contains a fantastic example of Davis’s RRrrumm-digga-DIGga freeform metal-scat that’s a trademark of the band.
As a band, Korn are unafraid of innovation. From the scattergun vocals to the use of bagpipes, to their more-than-flirty relationship with hip hop (see songs such as Children of the Korn and Cameltosis), the tracks are always surprising, and always feel somewhat foundational, the building blocks of the genre from which later bands can build mansions.
It’s still good stuff, but they have aged a little. Lyrically, there’s some pretty questionable and juvenile stuff that wouldn’t stand up today. There’s also a hint of the approaching Growlageddon in Davis at times, but I feel he’s such a unique talent that it’s all part of his vocal tapestry.
Follow the Leader is still exciting today, a full twenty-two years after its initial release. I’ll give it a creditable 7/10. It’s a fine blend of metal, hip hop, wackiness and bagpipes, and it likely represents the best the band have to offer.