Ko?n is allegedly the first nu metal band to come along, right at the start of the 1990s. As far as I can see, the introduction of this sub-genre ushered in a new marketable type of metal that targeted angsty teens and more-or-less distorted metal.
So, you're probably wondering what I'm doing reviewing this album if nu metal isn't my number one choice of music. Well, there's several reasons, bthe biggest being that I live in a metal deprived area, a place where metal bands don't think of coming to. When a metal band does come to town, I go to the concert 'cause I take what I can get. So, I hear that Disturbed and Ko?n are coming to my town. For Disturbed, it's their second time coming in the last two or three years. They introduced me to metal back when I was a kid, so I'm totally familiar with their entire discography. Ko?n, however, is a different story. I never really got into these guys, but to be fair, that's 'cause I never really tried. I heard Twist once, and then a little later I saw that one South Park episode where they appeared as guests, and as a result I heard the song 'Falling Away from Me
' from their 1999 album Issues
. I also heard their big song 'Freak on a Leash
Now, I'm no longer the type of kid who gets bullied by every kid in a Fiddy
Cent shirt, and I feel that, for the most part, I've grown out of nu metal. So maybe I'm not quite the right person to review this album, or maybe the fact that I'm not an angsty kid only sharpens my judgement of this album. I dunno. But anyway, to prepare for Ko?n's arrival, I downloaded a couple albums by them. This is the first one. Their self-titled '94 album.
I'll start by describing this album's sound. It has a dark, nitty-gritty tone to it, sometimes going for a heavy agressive approach, and other times it goes for a creepy nihilistic feeling that reminds me of early Marilyn Manson
. I do detect some rap influence here, which comes in the form of squealy sound effects that one might associate with Cypress Hill (all over the song 'Ball Tongue', for example), but thank Christ they don't resort to actual rapping. They just resort to the sound effects I mentioned before. Even then, these hip-hop sound effects don't occur very much throughout the album, so it doesn't annoy me. Most of the sound comes off as muddy and low, and full of odd little creepy underlinings.
The singer (Jonathan) reminds me a lot of Corey Taylor
from Slipknot, except this guy is better. He's less obnoxious, but he still has an annoying little undertone to his voice. There is a decent amount of range on it though, so that's good. He has a good amount of melody in his voice, and sometimes he has sort of a growly undertone that sounds pretty decent when its done right. There're times when he does this sort of creeping, low key semi-whisper that sounds pretty good along with feedback-ridden guitars and slow cymbal taps. The only dissapointing thing is when he shouts. Unlike bands like... say... Disturbed, the yelling sounds very amateurish... sort of like the band pulled some random guy off the street, held the microphone up to him, and told him 'Hey, shout into this and we'll give you a buck'. And
then there's the mock crying. Jonathan will do a sort of shaky whisper that sounds like he's on the verge of tears (Add that to the list of things Slipknot ripped off from this band). He really pushes that out during the climax song 'Daddy', and surprisingly, I don't find it annoying. It kinda gives the album a demented sort of undertone. The best moments in my opinion is when Jonathan goes for more melody (like the first lines in Need
To). These in the times when I can rock my head and say 'yeah, that's pretty decent'. So, in short, Jonathan's voice has a lot of range, he tries a lot of things with it. Some things work, and some things don't, but for the most part, he does it successfully.
The guitars are sludgy and abrasive, but they’re not too technical or flashy. This album is completely lacking of any kind of solo and is dominated more by simple ‘heavy’ riffs. I think a solo or two would’ve fit nicely on a few of the songs to change things up a little or even build on the atmosphere. The bass, unlike a lot of other metal albums, can be heard loud and clear all the way through this album. It’s loud and twangy, and some of the time it gets a little distracting, and even annoying. But I do like the fact that it’s high in the production.
starts our album off, and it builds slowly by utilizing that one-istrument-at-a-time thing that a lot of bands do. The drums come in, followed by guitar 1, followed by guitar two. And
'ARE YOU READY!" from our singer.
Now, it's here where I think it's mighty unfortunate that I heard Slipknot before Ko?n. Why
? 'Cause this song has a lot of parts in it that are in the song (sic) by Slipknot. Gahhh, Slipknot was rippin this band off and I didn't even know it? Ah well, can't be helped. Moving on. Now, before anyone gets their panties in a knot about the comparison to Slipknot, don't worry. Ko?n surpasses them quickly by having their songs not sound like a compilation of amateurish ideas crapped out by 209,573 different band members. There's more of an even flow to the music, even if the song structure is a little on the juvenille side. I was a little skeptical when that second track comes in with a stop-go pattern just like the intro to track one, but everything smoothed out from there structure-wise.
As this is the debut, the songs have a sort of immature progress to them, switching from catchy hooks to abrasive pounding moments. It is a little shaky, but it isn't blatantly akward or stupid. There is a fair share of moments where not much interesting is going on, and I find myself waiting for something else to come up that's interesting. There's also a few sort of obnoxious moments in the album, like in the song Clown
when Jonathan keeps saying "I'm just a fucking mental" through gritted teeth. Fortunately, the interesting moments outweigh the boring/obnoxious ones, so the album manages to hold itself up. Unfortunately though, by the time Shoots and Ladders
finishes up, I'm starting to get bored. By Helmet
in the Bush
, I'm fairly detached from the album and very bored, and I'm just hoping for another unique song to come on. Well, it turns out that Ko?n is good at reading the listener's mind. Let's talk about that heavyweight finisher.
Simply looking at the song length was enough to tell me that there would be something special about this one It's a stunning 17 minutes... this is something I expect from bands like Sunn O
))) and Weakling
, but a nu-metal band? ... .... ...Oh wait, didn't Slipknot--- oh, for fuck's sake.
then I looked at the title. Daddy.
Now, look at the album cover for this album. Take a good long look at it, keeping the title of the song in mind. Compare notes with your fellow classmates or some shit. Kay, now tell me what its about. Need
a hint? Probably not.
So, the rape song begins, interestingly enough, with an A Cappela from Johnny boy. Great way to kick off the song, in my opinion. Very ominous, and best of all, it quickly makes this song become seperate from the others.
then the vocals switch, the guitars come in with a creepy, slow riff, and the point of view of the singer goes from the rape victim to the rapist. Thankfully, we don't get as graphic as you might expect from a pedogrind band or anything(Ko?n may be regarded as disturbing and gross by some parents, but they're no Intense Hammer Rage
), but the emotional intensity is very prevalent. I think that's what makes this song the best song off the album. The way Jonathan's voice breaks down throughout the song makes you feel like he's panicking. It's one of those slow, winding songs that sort of sucks you down into its pit.
then there's the climax where everything pretty much comes to a halt, and the drums lightly tap on the cumbals, the bass sluggishly plods away, and you know something big is coming, and when it does, you're kind of unprepared. Jonathan really starts to breaks down to the point where you can't understand what he's saying. He's out of breath, his voice goes all high and squealy, and he is just freaking the fuck out. After the big bang, the song tapers off into silence. Oh, and I won't bother talking about that horseshit 'hidden track'. It's just a couple fighting about a vaccuum or some crap like that. There's some back story behind the recording, but it really has no context and in my opinion it kinda lessens the big climax of Daddy. Other than that conversation about the vacuum, Daddy is a pretty damn impressive song.
So, for the most part, Ko?n's debut is a pretty okay album. Like I said, nu metal isn't really my thing, so calling this album 'okay' is pretty good for me. It's defenitely an enthusiastic debut, full of anger and angst and all those wonderful bowl-of-sunshine feelings. There are plently of juvenille and amateur writing flaws, but that's to be expected. The songs could've had more range, as well. Maybe a good interlude would've been nice, or a small creepy little song like Slipknot's 'Tattered and Torn
' (I may strongly dislike Slipknot, but hey, Tattered and Torn
was a good one). I think I would've been really into this album at a younger age, but even now it's still an okay album. It's innovative for its time, and fairly interesting for most of the time. By the fourth song it gets a little predictable, but it's still a fair album.
Favorite songs on it are: