“See You On The Other Side” really needed to succeed. With all the hindrances that KORN faced prior to the release of this album (we will get to some later in the review), the band and the fans desperately needed this album to be successful on many levels. Although the album did succeed on a financial level, there is still quite a bit of foundational aspects that keep “See You On The Other Side” from being one of the band’s best efforts.
After the initial backlash from KORN fanatics over the band’s darkest and heaviest album since their debut, “Take A Look In The Mirror,” it was an almost obvious guess that the band would take their sound back towards their lighter and more eclectic ways that made them famous. And “See You On The Other Side” does accomplish this. It’s far more commercially viable then their last few records (whether it was pressure from fans, a new contract with Virgin Records, or just the band’s choice is still debatable) and the album still cuts itself with this double edged sword. Many of the songs are instantly memorable but the others are far too watered down and shallow to be worthy of some of the more substantial work that KORN has accomplished.
What really makes me shake my head it shock though is that the album just starts off to an amazing push. The first four songs are quirky, catchy, and overly well written. “Twisted Transistor” leads off with a ballsy riff and a wonderful sing-a-long vibe and then the next three songs retain some of the darker imagery and depth that I loved prior to this album without losing the radio sensibility of the band. Suddenly the album falls into a sort of rut where the band seems to drag along for the next section. The songs seem eclectic, unfocused, and unguided as the band experiments with some more modern techniques (like the odd synth that threads through the overly Gothic sounding “Throw Me Away”) and overly loses their Nu Metal edge. And although it does get better towards the end, most thanks going towards the clap-a-long groove of “Coming Undone” and the aggressive and more complex “Liar”, the other songs tend to be forgettable and lackluster. The album has some great cuts but as an full album it doesn’t compare to the last few the band released.
Ironically, one of the elements leading into “See You On The Other Side” that should have been a major factor towards its relative ‘hit or miss’ nature didn’t affect the album as much as it could have. The loss of Head from the guitar role (which amazingly was the first line-up change for the band ever) could have been an amazing detriment for the album but the band covered well for it. Hell, the band even started throwing more traditional sounding leads (like in the track “Liar”) instead of using that odd tone Head was known for. They covered the gap in a very clever and unique way making his departure in the name of Jesus less impactful then it could have been.
An added bonus to the edition that I have in my collection is a second disc of ‘bonus’ material. Strangely enough some of the favorite tracks come from the B-sides (although they are not contained in the ‘Songs to check out’ section because they are not truthfully part of the album) and many of them should have been included as album cuts. “It’s Me Again” and “Eaten Up Inside” both are amazing tracks and any fans of the band need to buy this version for them. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘remixes’ (at all for that matter) but even for those first two tracks its worth the extra money.
Other than the above mentioned new and older elements of the album, “See You On The Other Side” is still undeniably KORN. Fans of the band that have followed them for a long time are going to enjoy the throwback flavor of their lighter more eclectic side, but it still is not what KORN used to be. The parts are there: the bass and riff heavy music, the Gothic toned crooning of Davis, the odd Nu Metal song writing, but most of it still feels a little unfocused to be amazing. It has some good moments but it just fails to deliver as a whole.
Songs to check out: “Liar”, “Hypocrites”, “Twisted Transistor”.
(Online January 15, 2009)