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Sunday, April 20, 2008

DVD Review: Korn - Live at Montreaux 2004

Korn - Live at Montreaux 2004
2008 Eagle Eye Media
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In case you're unfamiliar with it, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland has been an annual event since 1967. Originally the festival was stabled on the shores of Lake Geneva in a casino that has long since burned down. In its early years, the festival lasted three days, but now as one of the premiere music gatherings in the entire world, the Montreaux festival, held every July, lasts up to two weeks. Back in the day, Montreaux was strictly a showcase for jazz, however over time, Montreaux has broadened its horizons so much that heavy rock bands such as Deep Purple, Canned Heat, Yes, Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper have played the festival along with Carlos Santana, Marvin Gaye, Bo Diddley, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Clapton, BB King, James Brown, Charles Mingus, Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and a wide-berthed mix of genre artists. For you trivia buffs, the burning of the original casino at Montreaux is the inspiration to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" as the Purples were scheduled to play the evening it torched.

Suffice it to say, the Montreaux festival is of such elite standing to think of say, the Dead Kennedys or Napalm Death playing (despite the broadened vision of festival wrangler Claude Nobs) is unfathomable. Still, did anyone ever really expect to see a blaring crunch chord band like Korn on this bill? Perhaps the festival hasn't recovered yet from the belligerent smash-up the Bakersfield bangers left in their wake after literally ravaging Montreaux with a mega-sized crowd that not only pogoed inside Stravinski Auditorium for 75 minutes but also assisted in Korn's lewd larceny with perhaps a record for more F-bombs in one set than the festival has ever seen.

Certainly the addition of Korn to such an esteemed music celebration was probably looked down upon as lowbrow from the festival's more posh attendees, and make no bones about these guys; they're not about to downplay or censor themselves in the interest of good taste. Korn do what they do, they do it loudly and they do it with spiteful tongues and measures. At least they bring the noise and they put on an energetic crowd-pleasing show.

If you're still scratching your head wondering why Korn of all bands was recruited to play the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival, perhaps it's the madcap slap funk of Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu's five string bass or even the fact that James "Munky" Shaffer can put on a few demonstrations of guitar ingenuity, particularly with his wah-tube bullroaring distortion on "Dead Bodies Everywhere." For what some listeners view as a one-trick-pony script, Korn does manage to dazzle beneath the tonal blats of mayhem they're most noted for.

Korn: Live at Montreaux 2004 is a surprise at face value, but by all means does Korn live the moment and as they get their venue-packed audience to scream "fuck that shit!" in tandem during the finale "Y'all Want a Single," you will have realized that Korn has managed to touch so many lives as one of the instigators to the metal revival, and those primarily disaffected lives literally find release with what Korn expunges through their detonative music.

Featuring one of their last performances as a quintet before Brian "Head" Welch departed to seek religion, Korn: Live at Montreaux 2004 becomes an immediate artifact since Munky has been handling all of the guitar duties since. Maybe Head was ordered by a chiropractor to get out and rescue his back since he spent half of his time onstage in his reknowned hunched over position, but despite his personal reasons for walking out of the band, the fact remains he was a tremendous force to Korn's sound. Certainly they've lost a part of the aquatic ambience that Head could frequently produce with high note tweaks and otherworldly distorted keys. If there was anything that gave balance to the massive singular punch of Korn's streamlined metallic odes to hatred and self-awareness, it was Head's trippy lines. Not that Munky isn't capable of creating hypnotic moodscapes on his own, as evidenced by a quick little jam session between him and Fieldy during this set before launching into Korn's fan favorite tune about egotistical masturbation, "A.D.I.D.A.S."

Korn: Live at Montreaux 2004 is a live hits package up through Korn's 2003 album Take a Look in the Mirror. Obviously wanting to appease as many of their European fans as they could in what may be their only invitation to the famed Montreaux Festival, expected tunes such as "Blind," "Freak On a Leash," "Got the Life," "Shoots and Ladders" and "Falling Away From Me" peel off in layers while including a hefty portion of songs from Take a Look in the Mirror such as "Right Now," "Break Some Off," "Did My Time" and of couse "Y'all Want a Single."

Once you get over the oddity of seeing Korn in such an un-metal-like venue, you fall instantly into the set as the original five members pound aggressively and swing their pigtails to blazes. Expect to see Jonathan Davis hate fuck his cyberslut microphone as well as pull out his bagpipes, to which the primarly Euro-based crowd goes bonkers with appreciation.

Korn: Live at Montreaux 2004 is professionally executed, professionally captured with multiple camera angles and it perfectly captures the boom of one of metal's more historic units. Even when they blare out Metallica's "One" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," the dominant statement is that, whether you're a fan of Korn or not, you have to give them thanks for partially reintroducing metal music to the North American territories. Even as a stripped foursome (See You On the Other Side was a damned fine rebound after Head took off), Korn's presence is a reminder that metal in its revival stage might not've reached the same broadened capacity if not for the lingering tension of the intro notes and the "Are You Ready?" scream that launches "Blind" from Korn's self-titled debut from 1994.

Rating: ****


pcsolotto said...

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King said...

Thanks to the blog owner. What a blog! nice idea.