How Did Korn Get Back To The Top?
In the 90's no metal band was as hot as Korn. After founding the nu-metal genre and selling tens of millions of albums with era defining songs such as "Freak On a Leash", the group looked on track to be perhaps the next Metallica. The band was selling out arena's all over the world with numerous awards and #1 charting albums to their credit. Just when it seemed like Korn was destined to achieve metal legend status lead guitarist and creative leader Brian Welch left the group and so began a slow decent into mediocrity for Korn. Let's take a look the time after Brain Welch's exit and how Korn saved their legacy.
The first record released post-Welch was 2005's "See You on the Other Side" which despite being met with mixed reviews, did very well commercially charting at #3 and selling over 2 million copies worldwide. It was clear from the sound of this album that Welch's signature down-tuned style was vital to he bands sound and it largely lessened the heaviness of the record. With this release many fans felt the group was striving for commercial appeal more than ever before and this lead to a bit of a dip for the band. Overall the band was still doing very well and even a step down for Korn was higher than most bands could ever dream of being. However another blow was dealt to the band in 2006 when founding drummer David Silveria departed from the band on very negative terms. Here is when a noticeable shift in the mainstream popularity of Korn began.
In 2007 Korn begun to make a series of decisions that lead many to call them sellouts, which included the featuring of rappers in their music videos and shifting away from many of their once meaningful lyrical subjects. In the summer of 2007, Korn released their now infamous record "Untitled", which featured many of their worst sounds to date. This also marked a change in the way the band was perceived. Korn was once viewed as one of the coolest bands in metal with a sense of fashion that influenced dozens upon dozens of artists, now the band was looked at as extremely corny and borderline comical. In the span of a few years Korn's momentum ground to a halt and they quickly became a laughing stock after being on top of their game for close to a decade.
The years that would follow gave us several more very sub-par Korn releases. Without Brian Welch the band lost much of what made their sound special. Things hit a further decline in the 2010's for the band as their average venue size for headlining shows drastically decreased, sometimes playing venues with just barely over 2,000 capacity. Korn looked destined to be an example how a series of bad decisions could take a band from legendary status to being mocked as relics of the 90's in such a relatively short period of time. Just when things looked at their lowest for the band, Brian Welch returned in 2013 and while he was featured on the record they released that year, it wasn't until 2016's The Serenity of Suffering that his presence was truly felt again in the group.
With Welch's return a new found excitement was brought to the band. Of course one can also not discount the helping of the passage of time and a growth of nostalgia for 90's music. 2016 saw Korn bring back many of the signature hallmarks of the band that fans know and love and this return to basics was met with warm reactions by both fans and critics. Now things were on the upswing for Korn for the first time in quite awhile. The band rapidly shot back up in their headlining venue size abilities, largely with the help of a US tour with Slipknot which revitalized the band in many's eyes. The group dropped another critically acclaimed record in 2019 "The Nothing" followed with a US amphitheater tour that fully and firmly reestablished the band as icons and one of the elites of the metal scene. Korn is a prime example of how returning to your roots can greatly help a band as well as a showcase of the immense amount of perseverance possessed by the band to get themselves back to the top of the mountain through their hard work.