Korn – Follow the Leader (1998)
Before complaining about something, it’s probably worth trying to understand.
I was about to moan about the first 12 tracks of this album (all silence before the music starts at track 13), assuming it was a gimmick, a CD tracklisting novelty. It turns out the 12 tracks form a minute of silence out of respect for a boy named Justin (also a track on Follow the Leader), a boy with intestinal cancer whose final wish was to meet the members of Korn.
The nasty subject matter elsewhere on the record, although sometimes misinterpreted as glorifying abusive behaviour, I have since learned was intended to speak up against cruelty.
Which is what makes the song (and candidate for weakest individual track on the 1001 list) All in the Family so inexcusable. Even if you get past the ill-advised lyrics, the amateur-hour rap-battle song is just awful and cheapens the rest of the record.
Drop that dud of a track, you’ve got something with Follow the Leader.
The more commercially viable first half successfully walks the same line Marilyn Manson did a couple years earlier with Antichrist Superstar. Effective spooky sounds, vocal delivery fluctuating between frail and furious. Korn’s 7-string guitars are distinctive and the 5-string bass rattles along, creating more of a groove than was typically heard in anything previously categorized by the term “metal.” Got The Life may have drifted too far beyond the mainstream line for some early Korn adopters but other options like Pretty and It’s On! are tracks that all Korn fans can appreciate.
The second half probably appeals more to Korn purists: not as instantly accessible, still with plenty of unfiltered rage. For the full experience, get the physical copy as the Todd McFarlane cover art is part of the twisted charm.
Follow the Leader is easily one of the heaviest records on the 1001, featuring one of the list’s thinnest moustaches, courtesy of Lead singer/bagpipe player Jonathan Davis.