There And Back Again: Brian Welch, Korn and Christ
From Krafty Kuts to Ke$ha, if anybody is a trendsetter in misusing the letter ‘k’ on the top of my list would be nu-metal band Korn. Trying to create a unique look, the eye-lining, dreaded hair-styling, stone-faced band sets themselves apart by creating songs about pain, murder, violence, and sex that only appears to have found a niche market in angst-driven adolescents. With the “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color” attitude, Korn has made quite an infamous name for themselves selling over 35 millionalbums with an impressive 11-album discography. But there’s more to this band than meets the eye. Back in 2005, guitarist Brian “Head” Welch quit Korn. The reason? Jesus. In an interview with Christian entertainment review site PluggedIn Online, Welch said,
“The last two years I was in Korn I partied non-stop and started doing speed every day. I got so addicted that I got scared. I tried to go to rehab, but that didn’t work. No one could help me. Then I ended up seeing if Jesus was real, and He instantly took the drugs away. He revealed Himself to me and gave me the strength. Once I figured that out, I knew I was accountable to God.”
In a brief news post from MTV, James Montgomery wrote, “On February 8, he [Welch] had apparently written a ‘letter of resignation’ to the band’s management. In the note, Welch detailed a long list of reasons for leaving the band, including increased moral objections to Korn’s music and videos.”
Korn, though they appeared fine from the split, went at it Taylor Swift style. In their 2005 album See You On The Other Side, lead singer Jonathan Davis sings “Your messiah was never mine” and in their 2007 untitled album, Davis writes, “I read your little book, Head/Ha ha ha ha.”
So it appears the split was a good thing, at least from Welch’s standpoint. He started his own heavy metal band called Love and Death and experienced some success with the debut album Between Here & Lost.
You would think this would be the end of the article right? Wrong. It was reported earlier this year that Brian Welch rejoined Korn. What changed? Brian left drugs, bitterness, anger, depression and fear. Why would he go back? Needless to say, there was an outcry from the Christian populace about this decision. About that, Welch writes for loudwire.com saying,
“I was getting some crap from a few Christians that were commenting online that KoRn weren’t ‘honoring The Lord’ in their music. There was a time when I didn’t think God would be very into KoRn’s music and lifestyle, but I’ve learned that He loves everyone where they’re at. And I know God loves KoRn’s music because it’s passionate and very honest. I just trip out on these people that have the balls to judge people so harshly with their negative, hateful attitudes. It’s crazy how bold people are online. Not one person has come with their negative attitudes to my face. Luckily, most of the Christians are cool and ‘get it.’ I only have to deal with a small number of knuckleheads.”
Needless to say, with Korn’s music being characterized as rancid and morally questionable, it makes us wonder what Welch is thinking. With his latest album, can Welch influence Korn into making a Paradigm Shift away from their brokenness? Adam Holtz, from PluggedIn Online, in a review of Korns’ latest album, writes, “There’s no paradigm shift to be found here… He [Davis] speaks, often longingly, of death, suicide, violence, insanity, nihilism, hopelessness, meaninglessness, sadism, and torture. And the resulting gulf between the Gospel of Christ that Welch has embraced—a message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation—and the hopeless vacuum of Korn’s collapsing worldview is simply vast.”
I understand that in order to convey truth and raw emotions, things need to be said or expressed in certain ways. But how far is too far? Taken from a recent article published on the Papyrus about Eminem and his latest album, “…neglect your presumed notion that all his [Eminem’s] content is highly inappropriate, and look at his art for what it is; a reflection of his inner thoughts and emotions.”
With eleven albums and nothing but hopelessness and despair to show for it, what kind of impact can a Christian make in that setting without dulling the message and truth of Christ? Jesus ate with the sinners, but never played in a band actively promoting sin. Jesus was harsh and offensive, but never to the point of dishonoring His mission and Father. But on the other side, maybe Welch’s influence is exactly what Korn needs. Maybe inside the darkness Welch is the light that will guide them to Christ. Because God is never satisfied with where we are, He calls us to bigger and better things. Things that will ultimately bring Him honor and glory.
Ask yourself this, after eleven albums, can Korn be ultimately redeeming and glorifying to God with their lyrics and lifestyle? Or do they need the light of the world, the light that came to save even those trapped in the darkest of places, and to reject the way they have been living?