2002 was a unique time in music. A bygone era where rock music was embraced in the loving bosom of mainstream media, used for Wrestling shows, movie trailers and shampoo commercials. Nu-Metal was the undisputed King of the mountain, bands such as Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and unfortunately, Kid Rock were ruling the roost and everyone seemed the happier for it. A time where it was hip and trendy to have neglectful parents, or a dodgy uncle and come from the trailer park of Shitsville, Kent.
However the undisputed champions of the raging teenage daddy issues were indeed KoRn.
In a summer where cheery Pop-Punk and a Red Hot Chilli Peppers comeback seemed to be the talk of the town. KoRn cut right through that lovey-dovey dross with ‘Untouchables’ an unapologetic scathing slab of hate and self loathing that made most Nu-Metal bands double take on their all too marketable sound and many a metal fan practically masturbating over those sweet, sweet mosh pits (What a lovely image you have placed into my mind for the rest of the day their – Mentally Scarred Editor)
However, this album didn’t come without its controversy and many of the KoRn faithful are still split today on whether this album was KoRn at its finest – or an overblown and bloated produced album as big as Jonathan Davis’s ever bulging gut back then. It was the first KoRn album since 1999’s magnum opus ‘Issues’ an album that showed that KoRn were able to hang with the heavyweights of metal – but that’s a story for another day.
The writing process of ‘Untouchables’ was apparently met with frequent arguments between members, drug binges, naked ping-pong matches with strippers and a eye watering four million dollar price tag. It was surprising that the album even came out, let alone become an album for angry teenagers across the globe.
The album kicks off with ‘Here to Stay’ a blinding storm of an introduction that has been a constant mainstay in KoRn’s set-lists ever since (I have seen them thirteen times and they have never once not included this song). ‘Here to Stay’ clearly sets the tone of the rest of the album and we are soon taken on a schizophrenic and psychopathic journey across the four corners of Jonathan Davis’s psyche.
A scathing song about his high profile and dramatic divorce in ‘Blame’ and an uncompromising hate filled love letter about the trappings of being a successful musician with ‘Hating’. The album was then lovingly tied and packaged with Head and Munky’s grimy, creepy guitar sound and disgustingly groovy slap bass style only Fieldy could muster (when he wasn’t off his face on meth amphetamines and beer). While the album may have bought the anthems to smack your best friend to, it didn’t necessarily mean that it didn’t come with its “tender moments”
For many the albums highlight comes with ‘Alone I Break’ a sombre, depressing piece of unsuccessfully coping with ones battle of mental health and up until that point, the closest KoRn came to a ballad! Its haunting gothic influences and drum machine techniques held a mirror to what KoRn really wanted to achieve with Untouchables and that was a more grown up sound.
It was their way to shun the Nu-Metal tag, that may have ruled the roost at the time, but was slowly corroding, thanks to bigwig label executives wanting a piece of the pie and Kid f***ing Rock. I could bang on about the death of Nu-Metal, but again that is for another day.
After the final note of album closer ‘No Ones There’ sends us off from this musical meltdown, what you are left with is the musical equivalent of smashing a bedroom to pieces after a rather nasty break up or when your overly conservative parents wouldn’t give you £5 so you could spend it on black lipstick and shag-bands for fears of turning gay, where all you are left with is the silent contemplation of the merciless anger that haunts many an adolescent mind.
Despite many a fan protests – there really is a track for every hormone filled moment on ‘Untouchables’ from blistering optimism, to seething hatred, to even amateur S&M antics in the bedroom.
Fun fact, I actually had one of my first intimate experiences to ‘Beat It Upright’ and I really want you all to have that image in your head (Again, thank you Nick. I’ve reworded this to something a little less crude so as not to TOTALLY TRAUMATISE OUR READERS – Ever Increasingly Mentally Scarred Editor)
Untouchables has gained some traction these days as one of KoRn’s diamonds in the rough, but it shall forever be an album that helped fuel the angst of many a teenager since its unleashing sixteen years ago.