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Korn 

Untouchables (Immortal/Epic)

Getting all misty-eyed in heavy metal was once frowned upon. But when Korn's Jonathan Davis wept while reliving his childhood abuse on his band's 1994 debut, his tears helped wash away the stifling masculinity that had turned metal into something of a caricature in the mid-'90s, when mucho manly death metal reigned supreme.

At the same time that Davis exploded metal's emotional constraints, his bandmates followed suit sonically, drawing up the blueprint for nü metal with subterranean bass, guitars that aped turntables, and beats as funky as garlic breath. After close to a decade of such boundary-pushing, Korn's fifth album is its most expansive yet.

Something of an update of one of this scene's most important precursors, Faith No More's Angel Dust, Untouchables is equally bruised and brazen. "Alone I Break" is Korn at its most contemplative, with acoustic guitar, saturated beats, and pleading lyrics leavening the band's turgid crunch. "Hollow Life" is just as resonant: a brooding, haunting number in which spectral synth makes Davis's Mike Patton-esque delivery doubly chilling. Combined with the eye-watering wallop of lead single "Here to Stay" and the industrial nihilism of "Wake Up Hate," it forms Korn's most dense, well-rounded effort yet: a record that raises the bar for this genre so high, Fred Durst couldn't reach it if he were standing on Aaron Lewis's shoulders.

More by Jason Bracelin

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