So I have been a fan of Nine Inch Nails and Korn for going on 15 years. Yeah, I was a little late to the game. Blame my age. Both of these bands have released over 10 albums since their conceptions, and there has been a marked evolution in their styles. Most recent for these bands are NIN’s Hesitation Marks and Korn’s The Paradigm Shift, both released late last year.
Let’s talk about NIN first. I would definitely say they are my favorite band. Beautifully dark and haunted lyrics, and melodies that stay with you and settle down into your core, and at least in my case, help define who you are. I’d probably blame NIN for why my writing is typically dark, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. So NIN has evolved over the years from defining the industrial genre with Pretty Hate Machine to taking on a glitchy-electronic edge with the more recent Year Zero and The Slip. Hesitation Marks… is something else. We still see a progression from The Slip, but Trent’s time off to start raising a family has changed his artistic influences and inspirations for sure. There isn’t a unity of sound in this album. We go from electronic in Copy Of A to some sort of rap in All Time Low to very poppy punk rock in Everything. Trent told fans over the years leading up to this album that any inspired song that he considered fitting into the NIN umbrella he would produce through that name. But I think too much time went by, resulting in this hodgepodge of styles. I honestly think a few of the more poppy songs would sound great by a band like Paramore instead.
Overall, the album is good, but it’s one of only two NIN albums where I don’t listen to every song. I’m happy that Trent’s experimenting though, and I look forward to what he comes out with next. I consider this to be mid-cycle in the reinvention sequence that NIN has gone through over the decades. Who knows what’ll be released next.
So, I would consider Korn extremely less subtle than NIN, as their dark topics are blatantly spelled out in screams or whispers, versus NIN’s lyrical weaving. Thus, I have found that a lot more often I’m finding songs I can’t listen to. Either the topics make me squeamish, or I just plain don’t like the song. I want to say it’s averaged about 3 songs per album. Their more recent albums, See You On The Other Side, and Korn III, have been very sub par. Only one or two good songs to speak of. I know I’m not the only one who’s been waiting for a return of Untouchables-era greatness, wondering if it would ever come.
Well, it has. The Paradigm Shift is fantastic from beginning to end. The first time I listened to each song, I had a ridiculous grin on my face, excitement coursing through me that they nailed it, they fucking nailed it. The album has a great balance of melodies, with the hard rock, guttural screaming, and bagpipes sprinkled in that makes Korn unique. And they clearly have continued to learn and grow, as there is an edge of electronica as they experimented with on their previous album, The Path Of Totality. It is truly a fun experience and exemplifies how their persistence has paid off.
The journey of creation can take many paths, with sprints of inspirations and meanderings of uncertainty. You may create masterpieces or doodles, the important part is that you keep creating. What I’ve learned following the journeys of not only these two bands but many other creators, be they writer or musician or artist, is that you are not always going to create your best. But if you keep trying, keep pushing yourself to grow and get better, your life will be ever more rich from your experiences. You learn from your failures just as much as your successes. So go on, get out there and create. Nothing can stop you now.