KoRn – The Serenity of Suffering


Not many bands make three albums let alone 12. Not many bands stay together, and stay popular, for more than a few years let alone 22. Korn has weathered the storms of the music industry and personal strife and somehow managed to stay largely intact. Emerging onto the scene in 1994 from the dustiest parts of California with a new sound that no one really knew what to make of, Korn has again managed to make a killer album by remaining true to their unique sound with revitalized energy and perspective.

Never one to shy away from experimentation in their entire career, 2011’s The Path of Totality saw a total embrace of electronica. Dubstep bones wrapped in Korn meat and flesh. 2013’s The Paradigm Shift saw the return of founding member Brian “Head” Welsh and with him the scaling back of the electronics for the trademark twin guitar attack of Head and James “Munky” Shaffer.

That brings us to today and what I hoped was going to happen with their follow up material: the band’s total re-fusion as a unit with renewed faith in each other and the drive to reach the next rung of their trademark sound.

I’m a huge fan of The Paradigm Shift. There’s a ton of great songs on there and the return of Head made a clear resurgence to their creative and distinct riffs. That album is very safe, though. The production sparkles, it’s very clean and organized. It lacks that certain Korn “weight” most of the time. With the experience of them touring together starting in early 2013, writing TPS (Head playing.writing with Ray for the first time) and hitting the road some more, the band really gelled again. Fantastic live shows, the band of brothers are clearly happy and healthy.

The Serenity of Suffering is an absolute return to form. The band that went all out on the likes of 1999’s Issues and 2002’s Untouchables can be heard again. All of the elements that made people love Korn are sprinkled all over this 48 minutes of music.

Head and Munky wanted to push their guitar playing again. They did. SOS is a guitar showcase. That back and forth “talking” they do is just unparalleled. The grime and creep factor is back that frontloads the soundscape into some other world. They change tempo and rhythm much more often (really lacking on TPS). And the melodies! I can’t express how impressed I am with my two favorite guitar players.

I don’t skip a single track on this album. That hasn’t happened since Issues. There are so many amazing songs I could write a thousand words on each one. ‘Black Is the Soul’ is an absolute Korn classic, simply brilliant from start to finish.The haunting start of ‘The Hating’ into the sweeping chorus. The bouncy beats of ‘Take Me’, the thunderous ‘Everything Falls Apart’, the brilliant metal shredding on ‘Die Yet Another Night’. The solider’s march percusion, batshit crazy two tone “bumble bee” guitars, dj scratches and howling screams on ‘Next in Line’. The straight up funk of ‘Please Come for Me’!  The creativity makes these tracks breath and run around.

I can’t say any more about this album without mentioning producer Nick Raskulinecz. Long time Korn fan, Raskulinecz had an instrumental hand in forging SOS. He went on tour with them for their 20th anniversary of Korn dates and saw first hand night after night what the fans responded to most. Along with producers Ross Robinson (Korn, Life is Peachy, Korn III), Brendan O’Brien (Issues) and Michael Beinhorn (Untouchables), Raskulinecz knows how to make Korn crush.

SOS is so heavy, only the devil can lift it. The breakdowns are downright rollercoaster rides and there are a lot of them! The pits at shows will go berzerk like it’s 1994 again. In particular, the “There is nothing in my head” section of ‘Everything Falls Apart’ is a neck snapper. Heaviest bit of track since ‘Oildale’ on Korn III: Remember Who You Are.

Along the lines of Issues and Untouchables there is so much depth, the production is amazing. You can hear everyone, every second that each band member contributes. Do not play this album on crap speakers. Toss those garbage earbuds and pump this through components that can handle the craziness. With quality headphones, SOS takes on even greater life.

The guitars are just filthy good. Thick tones, that range from the seering to the heavenly (Everything Falls Apart is a great example). Head and Munky wail on every track. The percussion from Ray and Fieldy are in the perfect slot together. Ray can do fills like there is no tomorrow. He is so versatile it’s ridiculous. Fieldy shatters along the bottom end like no other, bouncing in the pockets of Ray, Head, and Munky. The tone Raskulinecz dialed him in on each track is phenomenal. He’s got his trademark “click” here and there, but he’s also much more robust sounding. He’s such a unique bass player I’m so happy he’s given so much space to shine (looking down at you, SYOTOS, Untitled, POT). He’s especially awesome on Please Come for Me. Those sustained notes make my heart palpitate everytime. This album simply thumps.

Jonathan Davis is on point. Some of his best work. His entire insane range is shown off. Straight up singing with a mix of passion and pain. The whispers, phenomenal screams and howls. The vocal arrangements are so cool! It takes me back to my favorite album, Issues. The layering on ‘The Hating’ (the end is nuts), the awesome subliminal double talk in ‘Everything Falls Apart’ and the split personality presentation in ‘Die Yet Another Night’:

Sick of all these things I tried
Sick of all these lies
(Nobody cares you’re just a bad man
Nobody wants you you’re a dead man)
Wake me from my darkest dream
Read me from my mind
(Nobody cares you’re just a bad man
Nobody wants you’re a dead man)

From the beginning.  Korn has been a decisive band. The traditional metal scene turned their nose up at them while a legion of misfit kids flocked to see them to headbang their torment away. Today, most people are shocked Korn is still making music and simply boil down their sound to slap bass and JD scatting. The Serenity of Suffering isn’t Korn doing anything that new so the haters will quickly dismiss it. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re giving their fans everything they love in a modern way. This isn’t the band from 1994. Those guys don’t exist anymore, a lot has happened in two decades. This is the band in 2016 and they still deliver to those that listen. I consider this one of the best albums they’ve ever made. They’ve given us another album that no other band on Earth (and many have tried) can make. I, for one, couldn’t be happier.


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The Walking Dead S07E01

Wow! That was an hour of straight up horror. I’m sure that’s going to turn off a lot of people from the show for being that brutal. Some creative story telling with the time jumps and keeping it to Rick’s perspective (the first person shots from the line up were really good).

They milked the ever loving gob stoppers out of “Negan is the worst thing in the world.” Some crazy set ups and the only relief of someone not getting maimed says a lot. Super cheap tactic in flashing the images of everyone getting hit. The episode is so unrelentingly bleak that it’s unnecessary and a stupid red herring move.

So with that carnage over with the question is, where do we go from here? Certainly, there will be a regrouping period but this changes the entire group dynamic. Is this whole season going to revolve around a simple revenge tactic? That’s not enough to mine for 15 more episodes. Clearly, we’re going to be introduced to a new civilization and I don’t know what new players that will give us.

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Shameless S07E04

I Am A Storm

The hustle continues.

The neighbors strike back against Frank’s homeless shelter after an air conditioning unit is stolen from a local school (that AC unit might be in Frank’s possession right now. But you didn’t hear that from me.) A neighborhood meeting is called and despite a rousing speech by Frank, it’s voted to be shut down. Frank grabs a few kids from his shelter and sets up a last ditch effort stand in to keep it from going forward.

Not much Lip and Ian interaction this week. Ian, on the outs with Caleb, gets resituated at work and meets a new guy. This guy turns out to be trans and Ian is introduced to a whole new network of LGBTQ people he was completely ignorant of.

Lip still struggles with his unpaid internship. With Fiona tossing family duties to him, he gets mad that he has to deal with their constant problems. With the hopes of eventually making big bucks, he dismisses Fiona’s past and current efforts again. Pissed, she lets him know what an ingrate he is and charges forward in continuing to turn Pattie’s Pies around. Curious about how the company really makes its money, Lip guesses the password to the server room and finds out what they’re doing illegally. The next day management lets him know they knew he was in there and not so subtly offer to bribe him with about a dozen iPads. About to sign an NDA, the Feds come a knocking again and Lip hightails it out of there with one other intern.

Carl has an actual positive father figure with Dom’s father (much to her dismay). He tells Carl about military school and he’s seriously considering it. It would be about as major a change as he could ever do and the only real question is if he could make it through. It’s a scene of discipline and rules he’s never faced before. Other’s like him have certainly done it so it’s not that far-fetched. A future for Carl not wandering the streets may actually be starting.

Deb isn’t wandering the streets yet, but she’s close to it. Fiona has drawn the line and Deb is not happy about it. Everything Fiona warned her about having a kid is true. After striking out with some not too good advice from Svet (that could get her killed if we’re being real about it) there’s a moment where it looks like Deb would come around. “Why am I the only one you haven’t offered a job to?” “Will you show up when I tell you and listen to me? I will be your boss you know.” “NO.” Deb keeps raging against the machine and it’s getting her nowhere. She’s got more Frank in her than she knows.

Fiona is making a lot of changes at Pattie’s and it looks like it’s paying off. Even with her family strife, she’s sticking to her guns and his on her own path for the first time in her life. It’s great to see Fiona flex her muscles (also, kudos on the directing this episode Emmy!)

Kevin and V get into some drama with Svet’s dad. V doesn’t trust him at all (for good reasons) and when he disappears with the kids for most of the day, they freak out. Turns out to be a false alarm, he was out making them a thank you portrait with the kids. With the speed bump up and over with (and a side of sexy punishment from Svet) a long looming specter rears its head again. Their relationship with Fiona is deteriorating. They barely talk as their busy lives have pulled them apart. Fiona swings by for a favor that V isn’t to keen on and it starts a fight. Svet butts in, which Fiona shuts down with the quickness, and Fiona storms away. Svet blows it off saying they’ve outgrown her, but they’ve been friends for ages. It’s not that simple for them just stop talking. Through the whole series Fiona and V have confided in each other in the dark times and it would be a shame for that relationship to end. Here’s hoping they can come together and talk instead of just bouncing off each other when they cross paths for a flash.

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October 21, 2016

And on this day, the lord bring us Korn’s 12th album.

Initial thoughts: The Serenity of Suffering is exactly what I hoped they would make coming off of The Paradigm Shift.

I have to give this many more spins before I do a write-up, but it’s out there everywhere. Spotify, Korn’s official YouTube channel, etc.

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Nintendo Switch

It’s about time they showed this thing. Looks like all the rumors were true for it. Main concerns: if the battery life is garbage this thing is dead in the water. The slide off controllers look are tiny! I hated how the Wii remote felt and this looks like it could be just as bad (at least it’s not an awful rectangle anymore).

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer

Rumored for ages, it’s finally official. A tease to be sure, this looks to be what everyone expected. Holding off this long to show anything and giving a year out release must mean they are confident they can finish it by then. It takes Rockstar forever to make a game, but no one makes open world games like them.

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Logan Trailer

This is the Wolverine everyone has wanted to see! They’ve kept things very quite while filming and I think it’s paid off.

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October Horror

No, this has nothing to do with the election.

Tis the season! I’m way late to this. It was October 15th by the time I realized I haven’t watched any horror movies. I’ll try to knock out 4 more by Halloween. To start:

Krampus– Great, great movie. From the guy that brought us Trick R Treat, comes a story of a family with the misfortune to meet Saint Nicholas’ shadow, Krampus. From the folklore of Austria and Germany comes Krampus, a being that punishes bad children at the end of the year. Max, a boy around 10, is a good kid who loses his faith in Santa Clause when his immediate family comes to visit his home for Christmas. With his belief gone and a wish of ill will towards his family, Krampus hears it and comes knocking with his minions. What starts off as a Christmas movie along the lines of A Christmas Story and Home Alone, Krampus descends into a chaotic monster movie. The build up is just right, everything is calm and step by step the horror comes closer to the house. Stranded and alone, the once bickering family is forced to rally together to survive Krampus’ game of cat and mouse. There are some awesome practical creature effects and a rather surprising ending. I love how Krampus looks. Tall, but hunched over, horns, crazy looking hands. No dialog keeps him extra creepy and different masks hide his face (like the elves) but you can see his eyes and sometimes his real mouth. It’s rated PG-13 so the gore is very low, but there is some crazy stuff that will send younger kids running for the hills. Bonus points for the awesome animated segment for Krampus’ backstory. A great idea with phenomenal follow through (it looks fantastic), I recommend this one a lot.

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father– This isn’t a horror movie. It’s a documentary. I’m putting this here because it’s real life horror and it’s so mind boggling it fits here. When Andrew Bagby is killed by his deranged girlfriend, his family and friends are devastated. His parents devote their lives to get justice for their son. The girlfriend flees to her native Canada and the parents follow her there when she’s arrested. With the start of the judicial process underway, it’s discovered that she is pregnant with Andrews child. Andrew’s childhood friend, Kurt Kuenne, a film maker, decides to travel the country to collect the stories of Andrew from all his friends and family. The goal is to show Andrew’s son, Zachary, who his father truly was through the dozens of people he touched in his life. While Kurt is doing this, the crazy woman was bailed out not once, but twice by the Canadian government. The reasoning by those in power defies logic. A lunatic was set loose and the results were so catastrophic that many people lost their jobs and new legislation has been pushed to reform Canadian bail law. Like all the best documentaries do, this one one stick to you long after you finish watching it.


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Shameless S7E03

Home Sweet Homeless Shelter

An episode of growth (depending on your perspective) for Fiona.

It’s one problem after another and Fiona gets called into them all. She’s trying to keep the diner running and it isn’t going well. She’s cutting costs to keep staff and the food quality has taken a hit. Ian has a manic episode at work and she cuts out to go help him. When she gets back, the place is falling apart with the cook having walked out. Then she gets a call about Deb. Not caught stealing strollers like I thought, but shoplifting. The amount of stuff she tried to smuggle was ridiculous, she got way too confident in her skills. Fiona gets her out of getting arrested by claiming low IQ. A close call that Deb has to take on the chin.

Looking into the woman who owns the diner, Fiona gets inspired to take total control and put herself first. In a family meeting, the kids are soon to never forget, she tells them everyone (but Liam) has monthly rent to pay for or they are on their own. If they want to stay together as a family, they are now forced to prove it. The biggest line, she no longer wants to be the emergency contact for everyone. She can’t provide for herself if she keeps getting pulled in every direction at once.

Frank has taken on a different approach with his kids. He’s gotten new ones. At the local homeless shelter. On a mission with his new found inspiration of getting a “do over”, Frank scrambles to provide for his family. When the shelter they are in gets the notice of shutting down in a week, Frank sets up Gallagher’s Home for the Homeless in an open house down the street from his original family. Frank had a busy but rather successful day of grifting.

Carl gets hit with the ax from his first real love. When Dom’s father comes barreling at him for giving her gonorrhea, Carl looks for answers. He gets tested and it comes back negative. He turns to his older brothers who have to break the harsh news to him. Carl doesn’t take the news lying down. Let’s so how quickly he bounces back.

Kevin’s new business venture pivots to a different business model that turns out to pay way better for way less work. Svet’s dad makes a surprise appearance and that throws the trio’s relationship off. I like how the show keeps their plotlines weird and quick. It’s like getting updates on your neighbors that may or may not be more dysfunctional than you.

Very little on Lip this week. His internship sucks and he has to learn to suck it up.

My favorite moments on Shameless are usually between Lip and Ian. Brothers close in age, they have always been the closest and can relate to each other the best. The helpful ear Lip offers Ian was touching and greatly needed. I hope they continue to anchor each other because they both need it.

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Movie Menagerie 5

Hitman: Agent 47– A middle of the road action movie based on a video game franchise. Not a bad movie, it just doesn’t do anything new or very interesting. I’ll give it good marks for casting Rupert Friend as Agent 47 (he looks just like the game character) and Zachary Quinto makes a good turn as a bad guy. Super soldiers made via genetic alterations, a scientist regrets his work and his daughter with all the answers hidden in her mind. Sandwich that in between good action set pieces (additional good marks for the elaborate assassination set-ups the franchise is known for) that are often marred by stuntmen turning into obvious CG ragdolls.

The Monuments Men– A team of men head into wartorn Europe to help secure as much of mankind’s greatest artwork as they can from the Nazi’s and return it to the rightful owners. It  was a staggering amount of art, in the millions of pieces. Just the amount of man power to move it all is staggering to think about. An interesting movie directed and led by George Clooney. The ensemble cast gets a fair amount of screen time as they spread out to chase leads and cover more ground. The risk was great as the went into active war zones. They were under a time limit as the Nazi’s were pushed back and got more desperate, often destroying caches as they retreated. The movie is largely upbeat (often oddly so with surprisingly goofy moments…the tone of the movie is rather disjointed) but also carries the weight of human sacrifice in the face of a terrible evil. An aspect of WWII that is I think often skipped over, Monuments Men is a story worth watching.

Keanu– If you’ve watched Key & Peele on Comedy Central, you have a good idea how this movie plays out. Taking the spin from John Wick of a man losing his dog to some very rude criminals, Keanu is about a dork who gets his cat taken and he goes with his cousin to find her.  It’s got it’s moments but the big laughs are few and far in between. Oddly enough my favorite moment is a complete throwaway line near the end of the movie. It’s a bring back from a character introduction and it’s there and gone in about 3 seconds. give them credit for finding enough material to spin into a full length movie that stays interesting and mixes things up as it goes (the crazy factor gets ramped up with just about every scene). Worth watching on a rainy day, especially if you’re a K&P fan.

ARQ– I saw this Netflix Original pop up on the service a few weeks ago and just got around to watching it. I thought it was going to be an outer space sci-fi movie but it’s all about time travel. Set in the not too distant future, Renton is hiding out with his girlfriend Hannah in an abandoned house. Seconds into the movie masked men barge into the room and drag him to the basement. Things get worse from there and he gets killed, only to wake up back in bed at 6:16am next to Hannah moments before the men come charging in again. As the time loops repeat, we watch as Renton and Hannah put the puzzle together of what’s happening to them. What starts out as a home invasion for money turns out to be much more. To tell any more would give away too much of what makes ARQ so great. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a movie like this so much since Primer. Time travel stories can get really messy but writer/director Tony Elliot keeps the story very tight and easy to understand (props to the editing and production design as well). Each added wrinkle is spaced out just right to keep away any monotony and expands the world that these characters live in to be much bigger than you think at the start. The production is kept small with everything happening in just a few rooms of the house. I really liked the cast too which helped make everything play believable. Great special effects when called for as well. Nice surprise, I recommend it to any sci-fi fan.

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Halt and Catch Fire <> Season 3

Warning: Spoilers all over the place.

They could have named this season Flight of the Phoenix. The seasons starts with Mutiny starting to make a name for itself and not even by the end of the season, it’s all ashes.

Out of all of Joe’s failings, Ryan’s death was the worst of all of them. Ryan was young and inexperienced in just about every way. Like Cameron, brilliant, but he didn’t make it out the other end. Cameron got burned but her situation had a simpler path out of the rubble. Ryan never thought of (or knew of) how Joe makes his business moves in secret. This made him pull the trigger, for what he believed would be in helping and defending his mentor, when it actually was the worst thing he could have done. Plus, Ryan found out he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. That’s rough for a guy who thinks he’s the smartest person in every room. He thought he could cover his tracks only to find first hand that there was tech out there that he had no idea about.

Episode 8 I’ll call The Coup. Donna and Cameron had always been a great but dysfunctional team. They made it work for awhile, but those last few times where Cam would disappear (and she always held up progress on Mutiny because she insisted on doing everything herself) pushed Donna over the edge of tolerance. In this episode, Gordon is little more than a passenger, Voting Cameron out of the company is probably the best scene in the series so far. Intense and crushingly sad. Donna had her reasons and as everyone else did back her, it wasn’t a crazy idea. Cut off like a diseased limb, Cameron goes to Japan with Tom to work in the videogame industry.

Episode 9 sent me for a loop. They jump ahead 4 years to 1990. Donna’s plan failed. Mutiny collapsed. She’s divorced from Gordon and has made partner at Diane’s VC company. Gordon has managed to make the networking plan that he and Joe were working when Ryan killed himself to its fledgling status.  Joe is all alone day trading stocks by the look of it. Cameron has been in Japan the entire time making Space Bike into a successful series with Atari. When Donna finds out Cam is going to be at Comdex, she reaches out to Joe to help get all of them together to discuss a new business venture.

It was great to see Joe and Cameron together and having fun. Their scars healed over a little too much. Seeing bullheaded Donna was quite a bit different. So the big idea is the World Wide Web. In 1990 the Internet was still tiny. A few companies had access to it, it was tiny and was more or less just for academia. These people, the visionary, the engineer, the coding savant and Donna could be the ones to build the door that gets the public online.

The contempt in the room is a hurdle, to say the least. Joe butts heads with Tom (everyone more or less does that with Tom) but the real sticking point is between Cameron and Donna. When Cam admits that she’s as much to blame for the implosion of Mutiny as Donna, is a big revelation and admission for her. Then the other revelation comes on just as strong: she can’t work with Donna again. A flip comment about ditching Joe if Cam wanted to was all it took. What they originally had, what made their work so fun and exciting, is gone. She can never trust Donna again. Given the ultimatum, Donna leaves only to book a flight to Sweden. This leaves the original trinity to work together, for now.

A lot happened this season and it was all pretty great. It’s confirmed that next season will be the last and the fallout from season 3 has me teed up and ready to go for it.

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The Jungle Book (2016)


Jon Favreau is a hell of a director. He also knows how important a great cast and crew is. A reimagination of the decades old book and decades old animated Disney movie, The Jungle Book is an impressive movie and a technical marvel.

Found in the jungle as a very young boy by the panther Bagheera, Mowgli is being raised by wolves. Referred to as a “man cub” Mowgli has a hard time finding his place in the pack. When the tiger, Shere Khan, finds out a human is living amongst them he vows to kill him. In his journey to stay alive, Mowgli discovers fantastic characters, danger, and himself.

Right from the start, The Jungle Book grabs you by the eyeballs and guides you through a world that only great cinema can. From the Disney logo, we zoom away from Cinderella’s castle over the water into a river bed surrounded by foliage. Once through the film’s logo, the camera turns to the right and we’re in the Jungle Book. Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi, and aside from a quick scene with his father, is the only real life character in the movie. All the animals and 99% of the environment is computer generated. Cutting edge is putting it mildly. The animation on every level is amazing. The animals all have weight to them making them look that much more real. Even though talking animals is fantasy, it all looks right and is convincing to the point where my suspension of disbelief was locked in and I just believed that all of this was happening. The “Bare Necessities” song with Baloo (perfect casting Bill Murray) in the river is crazy. The finale is especially mind blowing.

The amount of care and planning to pull this movie off is impressive. Remaking a beloved classic is a daunting  task to start with and the way they pushed this story with new tech is daring. So much could have gone wrong.  The cinematography is genre defining stuff. It’s shot so well, the transitions are perfect and the soundtrack pulls everything together. With Favreau launching the MCU with Iron Man in 2008 and this, he is Disney’s golden goose. They’ll let this man do whatever he wants and we’ll all be waiting for it. This was a big surprise for me.

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