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Sounds like … the defining nü-metal sound of Korn and A Perfect Circle, but joining the likes of Haste the Day and Norma Jean in making metal with a positive message. At a glance … Brian "Head" Welch is no less hardcore metal than his days with Korn, but while his lyrics have gained much spirituality, his music has lost some of his former band's hooksTrack Listing L.O.V.E. Flush Loyalty Re-Bel Home Save Me From Myself Die Religion Die Adonai Money Shake Washed By Blood
Gold records, girls, and green… the world told Brian "Head" Welch that there was nothing he needed saving from. As guitarist for Korn, the defining nü-metal band of the 90's, he topped the Billboard charts, sold millions of albums, and even won a Grammy. But even though he experienced massive success in the music industry, success in living was still to come.
As the story often goes, Head's rock 'n' roll lifestyle brought with it a whirlwind of excess, and he eventually found himself addicted to methamphetamines and alcohol while also struggling with an abusive marriage that eventually left him a divorced single father. It wasn't until his then 5-year-old daughter repeated lyrics to the sexually explicit Korn song "A.D.I.D.A.S" that Head realized things needed to change. After contacting a Christian friend via e-mail, he began a gradual change of heart that eventually brought him to the open arms of Jesus.
Head distanced himself from Korn emotionally for almost 2 years before officially saying goodbye in 2005 while in the midst of a multi-million dollar contract negotiation. After ditching the drugs and straightening out his life, the guitarist began a new musical journey. Save Me from Myself, Head's long awaited Christian debut (which shares its title with his best-selling memoir), explores his former life as an addict, his departure from Korn, and his desire to reach out to young listeners for Christ.
At first listen, Save Me from Myself feels a bit like watered-down Korn—heavy and loud, for sure, but not as catchy. The eerie, minor motif that opens the album has that distinctive Korn vibe, and although Head's guitar work is no less big and brilliant than it was 10 years ago, the overall hooks of the songs aren't quite there. Korn found its niche as the first band with a grunge-goth metal sound. "Flush", this album's first single, just doesn't have quite the same effect as "Freak on a Leash" did back in 1998. Also, lead singer Jonathan Davis has such a distinct voice—strange and trembling—making Korn easily recognizable. Head's vocals on Save Me from Myself don't instantly grab the ear in the same way.
That said, it's impressive that Head capably handles all the vocals on this album. The redeemed guitarist holds his own, splitting his performance between cleanly sung melodies and guttural screams, not to mention a surprising harmonized chorus on "Die Religion Die." Though it's only his solo debut, Head clearly demonstrates enough experience to know what works.
Also, despite the lack of hooks, you begin to gain a better sense of Head's creative and musical vision as you sit with the album more. "Re-Bel" opens with a choir of children, but it's not a ploy or a pointless musical tactic. The lyrics come from the perspective of children facing serious family issues ("Mom and Dad don't notice me/They work 6 days a week/Sundays we all go to church/But we don't even speak) as Head responds from Jesus' perspective, "Rebel, the world has abused you and I'm here to choose you." The serious tone of the music fits these lyrics perfectly without sugarcoating the real issues.
It's the message that is most noticeable with Save Me from Myself. The depths through which Head explores his former life and new life are insightful and reach into a deeper place than you'll hear from most Christian artists. The surprisingly poignant "Die Religion Die" examines the current state of Christianity and the need to focus on Christ first: "Church is not inside your building walls … It's time to see religion die." Head goes on to suggest that we as Christians should not be so consumed with our differences, but unite as believers in Christ to better the world around us—a rather mature observation for a new Christian. Even the interesting (though dark) cover art has deep spiritual meaning to Head, who says, "It represents me being trapped in addictions, and getting set free from it from the angel that is standing behind me."
Despite the album's soul-probing depths, I'm don't think it was really necessary to record the sound of someone vomiting (preceding "Flush") to convey the ugliness of drunkenness and addictions—how lovely to hear that in your headphones. But then Head's approach to songwriting is honest and unflinching. Rather than take the easy route, he goes in deep for confession ("Flush"), examines dark addictions ("Money"), and ultimately spreads the good news ("Washed by Blood") in a way that's authentic and genuine in both music and lyrics.
Even though the music of Save Me from Myself isn't quite on par with the super hit material of Korn from the late '90s, it is nevertheless a very good nü-metal album with an amazing story of redemption. The content is so much more positive that anything released by Korn, that I can look past the absence of hooks to find a great deal of hope. It's easy to get swept away with how God has saved this man from death, moving him to walk away from the security of a successful band into a new life with Christ.