Did Sepultura Steal Korn’s Sound for Roots? Max Cavalera Calls Jonathan Davis’ Claims “Childish”
I don’t think Korn and Soulfly will be touring together anytime soon.
You may recall that earlier this month, Jonathan Davis revealed feeling angry when he first heard Sepultura’s Roots:
“One that I thought was a big compliment, but I also thought was fucked up, was Sepultura’s ‘Roots’ album. That was just a blatant Korn rip-off, and I had it out with producer Ross Robinson about that, because he just took our sound and gave it to Sepultura.”
Unsurprisingly, during a recent interview with ‘Démentièllement Vôtre‘ (by way of The PRP by way of Blabbermouth), the Cavalera brothers were asked about Davis’ comment… and, unsurprising, they don’t agree with the Korn vocalist’s assessment of their work.
“I don’t see it like that. I think especially the sound of Korn, in my opinion, with the bass, is horrible. We didn’t have that; we had a lot of low end and things that the Korn album didn’t have. So I don’t see why he would be pissed off, because I don’t see that much of a [similarity] between the two of them.”
“Plus, Korn wasn’t the only reason we wanted to work with Ross [Robinson.] He had done a Fear Factory demo that I really liked and had a really raw sound. And he had done a Deftones song on the ‘Adrenaline‘ album that I really liked.”
“Saying that is like saying Sepultura should be pissed off at Cannibal Corpse because they used [producer] Scott Burns. I’m not pissed off at Cannibal Corpse; I think they’re great. ‘Cause we were one of the first that used Scott Burns, we should be mad at all the bands that use Scott Burns? That’s childish. So he’s just really being childish. And I really don’t give a shit about Korn or anybody.
“We [were] very different from [Korn]; we have own way of playing and the songs are different. Everything is different. It’s just the same guy that recorded [both albums]; that’s the only similarity.”
Okay so here’s the thing: creatively speaking, I’ll take the Cavaleras over Jonathan Davis any day of the week. But they’re still completely full of shit.
For one thing, the Scott Burns comparison isn’t really apt. By the time Sepultura first worked with Burns on Beneath the Remains, which came out in April of ’89, he’d already worked with Death on Leprosy (1988) and Spiritual Healing (February of ’89). Later that same year, he’d produce albums for Obituary and Atheist. He produced Cannibal Corpse’s legendary debut, Eaten Back to Life, in 1990, which turned out to be a real banner for Burns (he also produced albums that for Napalm Death, Deicide, Exhorder, and Malevolent Creation). When Sepultura hired Ross Robinson, he was not yet the highly-in-demand producer we think of him as today; he hadn’t yet worked with Limp Bizkit or Slipknot or Machine Head or Vanilla Ice. The line from Korn to Robinson to Sepultura, in other words, is much straighter than the line from Sepultura to Scott Burns to Cannibal Corpse.
But for the sake argument, let’s say that, yes, Cannibal Corpse definitely hired Scott Burns because of his work with Sepultura. That doesn’t change the fact that Roots was a very Korn-y departure from Sep’s signature sound. They had started to introduce simpler, more tribal elements on Chaos A.D., but the songs on Roots are full-on nu-metal. And speaking of that horrible bass sound: Paulo Jr. never sounded the way he does on Roots prior to that album. And love it or hate it, that bass sound is a big part of what makes Korn Korn. So it’s not hard to see where Davis is coming from when he says Roots owes a massive debut to Korn.
Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section (as if you needed an invitation). I need a stiff drink because I just had to defend Korn from Sepultura and now I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.