photo & text by nacrowe
despite growing up in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and actively listening to the massively influential local ALTERNATIVE ROCK radio station 106.7FM KROQ out of LOS ANGELES, i didnt come across BAKERSFIELD's KORN until i was living in NIGERIA shortly after their second album LIFE IS PEACHY (EPIC, 1996) came out.
the three things about this record that stood out to me as a preteen were the self-scathing, almost T.M.I. lyrics of JONATHAN DAVIS, the pronounced bass of FIELDY that served more of a percussive than melodic function and the down-tempo, down-tuned dual guitar attack of guitarists HEAD and MUNKY. i think the sound of KORN can be described as a brick wall falling on top of you; it is one cohesive, machine-like unit repeatedly pummeling your senses with wave after wave of claustrophobic yet strangely hypnotic massive grooves. examples of this on LIFE IS PEACHY include "GOOD GOD," "NO PLACE TO HIDE," "TWIST," and "ASS ITCH." a big reason for the visceral impact for these songs is the aggressive production work of ROSS ROBINSON, who is historically celebrated for his ability to motivate (or coerce) stellar performances from his clients. along with KORN's debut, LIFE IS PEACHY is another defining example of this ability, especially with regards to DAVIS.
i have always had an odd appreciation for DAVIS' work since (much like his peer KURT COBAIN) he is definitely not playing it safe in his role as a METAL frontman or falling into cliche tropes of aggressive masculinity the genre is famous for. if anything, his aggression is aimed inward and his lyrics and performances are almost public sublimations for the immense pain he went through growing up an artistic kid in the conservative cultural backwater that is BAKERSFIELD. on later albums this scatting style of singing he trail-blazed on the first two KORN records comes off a bit forced, rote and even hackneyed, but on LIFE IS PEACHY it still carries a compelling sense of authentic ethos and aggression. like other GENERATION X icons like BILLY CORGAN, it is a bit disappointing to see DAVIS degenerate into a conservative parody of himself as a closet conservative since he was a bit transgressive and progressed the METAL movement forward with his lyrical subject matter (which included topics like CHILD ABUSE, SELF-LOATHING, BULLYING, SUICIDE, DEPRESSION and SELF-ISOLATION).
listening back i can look past the more cartoonish tracks on this record (like "PORNO CREEP" and "A.D.I.D.A.S.") and see an emerging group influenced by hybrid bands like FISHBONE and FAITH NO MORE trail-blaze new sonic terrain that propelled the band its peers forward for the rest of the decade. LIFE IS PEACHY is most definitely a record worth revisiting.