KoЯn: MTV Unplugged
KoЯn - MTV Unplugged - [Virgin Records]


Could someone PLEASE plug these guys back on?
Whatever made Korn release an "MTV Unplugged" is probably not what makes that annoying dude play the three songs he knows on guitar (including Radiohead's "Creep", which Korn also needlessly cover here, Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters", and Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" - which they gladly don't cover) over and over again whenever you're having a campfire. So why? Why? This album's release is so puzzling, for Korn seemed to be doing ok with 2005's mildly successful "See You On The Other Side". So why make such a misstep when the highly expected eight full-length (with famed drummer Terry Bozzio replacing hiatus-drummer David Silveria) in sight?

Seriously, why should nu-metal work acoustic? Genre-wise, it leans on effect, simple composing (if any) and a wall of distortion. Doing an unplugged Korn is equivalent to doing a Hendrix unplugged…without the amps the magic is gone. Don't take this the wrong way, I do like this band (and Hendrix, but that's an entirely different story) but some things are just better left untouched; having your songs work just the way you wrote them and fail to work in others only means you were a good enough musician to match the right sound to the right content. In a sense, some songs are untouchables.

Opener "Blind" is powerless, regardless to the Latin boosting injection given to it by the percussion. "Hollow Life", though a bit unbalanced, has a better arrangement (the eerie piano and ghost-like-saw-violin add great volume) and presents Jonathan Davis's great vocal variety well. On the next track Korn slaughter a sacred; one of their best songs and best nu-metal songs ever – "Freak On A Leash" – is stripped out of arms, softly plugged out from the electric machineries which made it live, and has Amy Lee crouch to pass her water and put some eyeliner over its violated anemic corpse.

Best and only good number here is "Falling away with me", and it's given the title for the way it uses mellow instrumentation (even using a Glass Harmonica) to emphasizes the song's meaning, making it ever so personal.
"Got The Life", Korn breakthrough single, is also given good treatment; dramatic strings, diverse percussion and frenetic bass compliment to the original frantic song. The four songs out of "See You On The Other Side" lack amp-power again; "Twisted Transistor" almost manages to elude judgment by being very energetic and crisp, but is still in no comparison to the original catchy radio-friendly single. Closing track "Throw Me Away" also eludes thanks to bombastic arrangement of backing instruments and Davis finally putting his great voice out. Never was the phrase "too little, too late" been so fitting.

Having the The Cure's Robert Smith as guest is a good reminder of better "MTV Unplugged" album, starting with The Cure', and going back to the chill down your spine in Nirvana's, the nights spent with Alice In Chains', and the empathy to Pearl Jam's. Smith pitches in to rescue this one a bit in a medley of Korn's "Make Me Bad" and his very own hit "In Between Days".

This is Korn, not Corn-ell (who's recent "Unplugged in Sweden" is also a much more worthy contender) – so I suggest you all to skip this one, ignore it and say "See You On The Other Side" is their latest (and a pretty solid) album and keep your fingers crossed for their expected eight (this summer) and ninth album (with original drummer David Silveria back on the seat, sometime in 2008) to come.

Ofer Vayner

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