Veteran rock act Korn has set a July 31 release date for its new self-titled Virgin album. The 12-track set will be Korn’s first without longtime drummer David Silveria, who is on hiatus from the band, and its second without founding guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who left in 2005 for religious reasons. “Korn” sees Korn crafting perhaps its most musically serious work since 2002’s “Untouchables.”
The set opens with the seemingly straightforward rocker “Starting Over,” but more than halfway through, the guitars drop and give way to a dreamy, psychedelic bridge, only to have the verses resurrected by gospel-inspired keys. Indeed, unofficial band member and keyboardist Zac Baird spent more time recording with Korn than ever, and it shows, as he gives the almost ballad-like “Kiss” some “Strawberry Fields”-inspired tones.
Elsewhere, cuts such as “Do What They Say” and “Trained Response” sport almost dance-y, industrial grooves, while the guitars on the adventurous “Ever Be” take on almost orchestral proportions.
According to frontman Jonathan Davis, “Ever Be” and “Love & Luxury” both address Welch’s departure. The former Korn member will preempt the release of Korn’s album with a tell-all book, “Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs and Lived to Tell My Story,” on July 7.
“I had to vent,” Davis tells Billboard.com. “It really irritated me that he’s putting out this book and profiting off of talking sh*t about us — the guys who gave him everything in his life and put him where he’s at. If you don’t want to be in the band, fine, but don’t go out bad mouthing us.”
Not all of the album takes on such targeted anger. First single “Evolution,” for example, finds Korn adopting a peace-loving persona — almost. “It’s about how us as human beings haven’t evolved in the thousands of years we’ve been around,” Davis says. “We’re no different than monkeys. We’re territorial and we fight, and we’re destroying our planet. Why haven’t we evolved? True human beings wouldn’t be destroying each other and blowing [stuff] up. They’d be compassionate and they’d love one another and there’d be no violence.”
The new album is the follow-up to 2005’s “See You On the Other Side,” which has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“We always wanted the atmospheres, and to really go deep,” guitarist James “Munky’ Shaffer says. “It wasn’t until this record that we really felt comfortable to do that. As records progress, the urge to do that becomes greater. We feel like we’ve finally solidified ourselves in the rock world, and wanted to take this one a little deeper into that direction. It’s less pop, and it’s more experimental.”
“Korn” is also the final album Korn owes to Virgin, who it signed with in 2005 for $23 million upfront, according to Davis. In what amounted to a revenue-sharing deal, EMI acquired a 30% stake in Korn’s overall business through 2010. “We’re going to go out and tour this thing and we’re hoping Virgin is going to want to do another deal with us,” Davis says. “We have a good working relationship.”
For more about the album and Korn’s unique label deal, see this week’s issue of Billboard, on newsstands today (June 1).