The early 90s was just the start of a lot of upheaval for rock and roll. Combined with the alternative wave becoming much sharper, there were many bands emerging from the hair metal and thrash movement that could no longer compete with the changing times. Rock and roll knows how to adapt, however, and the world still had a little hard rock at its fingertips.
In all of the genres that went through those 10 years, there were still grizzly as hell bands ready to shake up the system, whether it was through the way they played their instruments or the different things they had in mind when they fell from actually writing the lyrics. Along with the arrival of grunge bands, you had the pop punk explosion as well as the industrial and nu metal boom that was about to take over the world in the next few years.
Nor is it to say that everything had to be brand new, with old guard bands coming to the fore and reminding us that they could still kick ass through two different decades. The 80s had really worn out their welcome by this point, and it was time for the new rock and roll regime to take over again.
In the very beginning, grunge was what really started rock and roll’s more moody side. Although Soundgarden might have taken a bit more bite out of the usual hair metal scene, you could still see the roots band at the heart of it all. It would take a few more years for the angst to set in, and Korn made their presence known from the minute they hit the scene.
In 1994 there wasn’t even really a way to describe what these guys were doing, playing guitars out of tune to an absurd level and Jonathan Davis doing long rambling tangents that made him sound somewhere between a metal singer and someone. one who has just escaped from a mental institution and has decided to lead a group. Although the lyrics themselves could have been really disturbing, we were on the cusp of something much more aggressive than what had come before.
Although there has been rap rock before, you can really credit Korn with pioneering the nu metal aesthetic. Sure, they might not have had the clear hip hop chops of someone like Linkin Park a few years later, but all the vibe of a tortured child looking to pick on all the pain of his life is practically the model of what every heavy band later tried to do. There was a lot of ugliness on those early records, but it’s a darkness that touches a lot more hearts than people realize.