Equal parts menacing, emotive, and terrifying, Korn’s 1994 self-titled debut album, which was released on this day in 1994, is immediately recognizable as essentially the birth of a new genre – nu-metal – within the first 20 seconds of “Blind”. 5 men in a room playing some of the most unnerving and groundbreaking music to ever hit your auditory canals, and even today, it’s still a vital listen for any music fan.
Korn’s bass-heavy sound worked great here. With a fittingly raw, yet clear production, highlights “Clown” and “Helmet In The Bush” use sinister, catchy riffs to make their point, but the emphasis was still on drums and bass. A bagpipe intro on “Shoots and Ladders” is something few bands would ever attempt, too. While it’s still very clear the band was influenced by the likes of alternative metal forefathers like Primus and Faith No More, Korn added their own signature flair that also helped bands like Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamber, and Linkin Park go global as well.
Released the same year as the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, it signaled a sea change in rock and metal music as well. While grunge didn’t really “die” (really, it just morphed into commercially successful post-grunge bands like Creed), Korn did help popularize and bring nu-metal to a mainstream audience. And Ross Robinson was the perfect producer to bring out the best in the young band, too.