[HOT TRACK]If Korn has mellowed, it's just a matter of degrees

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[HOT TRACK]If Korn has mellowed, it's just a matter of degrees

Korn, the American hardcore band that used to spit out "Are you ready?" to its head-banging, frenzied congregations, is getting itself ready again. Korn, formed in 1993, has been admired for being a rock band that always looks back in anger and sings about it in crude language and in a morbid manner.

The band recently came back with "Untouchables," its fifth studio album and the first in three years since "Issues." That 1999 release scored well on the charts, but because of its more mellow sounds fell short of the expectations of core fans. They like things aggressive, bleak and enraged. Which tack would the new album take?

This outrageous and high-energy rock band was born under the blazing sun of California, singing about the dark, creepy and resentment-filled side of life. James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch are on guitars, Jonathan Davis on vocals, David Silveria on drums and Fieldy on bass. For "Untouchables," they have come up with a sound that harks back to the band's early stages, but with a bit of compromise.

The new album's 14 tracks are densely structured, with rough, gloomy and weighty guitar riffs. Davis sings with a slightly uplifted voice, making it sound more human compared to his former heavy, gravelly style.

The fully charged-up but less-than-fully explosive songs give the impression that Korn is still indignant, but now it's trying to swallow its wrath instead of spewing it out as it used to do. Hardcore Korn fans might not like it, but it marks a maturation in Korn's overall style.

Most of the songs follow one of two formulas. "Here to Stay," the first cut, is the most true-to-hardcore-form, with ear-blasting guitar riffs followed by vigorous vocals. Other tracks, such as "Bottled Up Inside," "Beat It Upright" and "Wake Up Hate," follow in the same mold.

The other style is more spooky and crude, and includes "Hollow Life" and "Alone I Break."

"It's heavy," said Davis, the vocalist. "But it's a different kind of heavy than we used to pursue, something that is beyond description." After all these years, Korn sounds like it has learned to channel its rage more productively, making well-focused hardcore songs.

by Chun Su-jin

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