photo & text by nacrowe
what i remember about KORN's fourth album ISSUES (EPIC, 1999) as a teenager was how quickly it was released on the heel of the previous year's landmark FOLLOW THE LEADER (EPIC, 1998). in my opinion the band was on a trajectory with their first three records that saw them expand their sound with confidence with each subsequent release. this role of their's ended with ISSUES, which sounded like a retread and to some extent the rest of their career has been an attempt at capturing the magic of those first three releases.
when i hear ISSUES singles like "SOMEBODY SOMEONE," "MAKE ME BAD" and especially "FALLING AWAY FROM ME," all i can think about is "FREAK ON A LEASH" from FOLLOW THE LEADER. i understand that the record was seen as a gift to fans by the band, case in point all the alternative fan-created cover designs, but in retrospect the record just comes off as uninspired and a step backward for a group that was quite innovative at its time. quite literally they were the leader rallying a movement of like-minded bands during the late 1990s and with this record they unfortunately stepped into self-parody. they ended up following themselves.
i remember getting this record in SACRAMENTO while on a trip visiting family alone from boarding school in MASSACHUSETTS during my sophomore year. i remember being excited about the release but a little uneasy at how quick it came out. my instincts about quality control were sadly correct and for me this album remains the ugly duckling of their extensive discography. in fact, only when KORN released their DUBSTEP hybrid record THE PATH OF TOTALITY (ROADRUNNER, 2011) many years later, which included some of the best JONATHAN DAVIS choruses to date in "NARCISSISTIC CANNIBAL" and "GET UP!," did i even begin to notice them again.
if you are interested in KORN my suggestion would definitely be to check out their first three records: KORN (EPIC, 1994), LIFE IS PEACHY (EPIC, 1996) and FOLLOW THE LEADER. you can pretty much skip ISSUES entirely.