Korn with Rob Zombie
7 p.m. Friday
Chesapeake Energy Arena
100 W. Reno Ave.
Twenty years and 11 albums in, Korn is as loud as ever.
Backstage, though, things are much quieter, and the toned-down partying has the metal outfit refocused and rejoined by founding guitarist — and born-again Christian — Brian “Head” Welch after an 8-year absence.
“I came back and it’s like old times, but better,” Welch said. “Everybody has their head on straight. Everyone is thankful for life, music, a career and family, whereas before we were just like, ‘Woo! Party!’ It helped me that we could have a good time with music without killing ourselves.”
There was many a drink and drug imbibed during those long nights of well-deserved, if excessive, celebration of Korn’s continued reign over the hard rock world, enjoyed since its eponymous debut album hit shelves in 1993.
There’s a buzz about the band that its members haven’t felt in some time, one that Welch promises fans will feel during Friday’s show at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“There’s a huge new energy on stage … an excitement,” he said. “If you don’t love what you do, people can read between the lines and see that. We love what we do right now.”
After bringing nu metal to the mainstream, winning two Grammys and selling over 30 million albums, the band has stayed hungry, relevant and experimental — even since its relative peak around the time of “Freak on a Leash” — dabbling in dubstep and electronic music in 2011’s partially Skrillex-produced The Path of Totality.
“Korn isn’t afraid to try new things. That’s helped us not to become stale,” Welch said. “We returned back to the basics but with a new twist on this new album. It’s not the same all the time. People might hate it or love it, but it’s different all the time.”
But trying something new for the band’s 11th studio album, The Paradigm Shift, unleashed in October, meant getting back to basics and evoking Issues-era Korn over a decade and a half later.
“We concentrated on song quality — to get the best songs we could with big choruses and the things that move people, the things that move us: guitar riffs, mosh pits and sing-along choruses,” Welch said. “We focused in on that, and it does have a vibe of our older stuff, but with a new twist.”
And fans new and old have responded, helping Korn get its first No. 1 spot on Active Rock National Airplay chart with “Never, Never.”
“A lot of people are saying it’s the best album in 10 years, and that’s a huge compliment,” Welch said. “We’re excited that they’re excited. They love the traditional sound returning.”