Utilising the underused and unsettling art of death photography as its central concept, KoЯn's latest audio-visual offering follows in the ghoulish footsteps of its predecessor; single and music video 'Rotting In Vain'.
Let’s not beat about the bush. The music of Insane doesn’t really work; it flails about, messy and unfocused in its flitting between disjointed, half-formed ideas. Despite containing what could be their filthiest, most diarrhoea-inducing drop to date, the song fails to successfully weld together its disparate sections. Things hold up very well until the chorus, which somehow manages to sabotage all the good work put in up to that point. Being as it is unrelated in almost every way – harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, productionally – from the rest of the song, it can only but alienate its listener and hamper the overall effect. Unless of course that’s what they were going for; in which case they’ve succeeded admirably. Don’t get me wrong, I love modes of composition that challenge established norms. However, in such cases the piece at hand has to have some other element that will make it a unified whole, which Insane sadly lacks. And yet – flaws aside – it’s still weirdly likeable, perhaps because we can see where Korn is going, even if they don’t quite get there.
The video achieves a much more concise balance of aesthetics than its musical counterpart, combining Korn’s now-familiar 19th century gothic setting (established on ‘Rotting In Vain’) with a very 21st century quick-cut horror technique. Its main idea is based on the Victorian practice of photographing recently deceased family members – often alongside their living relatives – as a means of immortalising their memory. Although a disturbingly macabre concept to our squeamish and sanitised modern-day mind-set, the logic behind it is really quite touching. Since the rate of death was much higher back then, the sight of a body (especially one of a relative) would not have been uncommon. For the Victorians, dressing up the dear departed for a pallid picture may not have seemed so odd then as it does now. Look at the bright side, at least they would’ve made for compliant sitters!
Now satisfied that I’ve thoroughly creeped you out, I’ll hurry us along to talking about the narrative. It’s just a regular day at the office for our professional photographer protagonist; another jolly old corpse-bride photo-shoot, and what fun everybody’s having! That tuberculosis has the model looking drop-dead gorgeous, isn’t she just to die for? Oh stop it, you’re killing me! Seriously though, snuff it… right, that’s it, the joke’s dead. Ghastly mori-puns aside, it’s a pretty nifty video. As our gaunt hero descends under the camera’s cloak, something strange his way comes. Through the lens he sees his female subject, or at the very least her soul, struggling through a tormented limbo of sorts – animated vigorously into life.
This is where the aforementioned aesthetic combination kicks in, and to great effect. In an inspired montage of rapidly inter-cut still and moving images, the cadaver comes alive: dancing; screaming; and generally expressing her pain of having been taken from life far too soon. Petrified at the display, our photographer escapes his cloak to find her back as he left her; dead as a dodo. This episode repeats a few times until curiosity overwhelms him, and – feigning satisfaction with the photographs – he dismisses her and her bearers in order that he might conduct the very same experiment; this time upon himself. Whatever will happen to our faithful friend? Will he make it through the ordeal unharmed, or will he perish in the process? Well, I guess you’ll have to watch it to find out now won’t you…
‘Insane’ is out now via Roadrunner Records