KornuCopia's second album "Sick Sick Sicks" has taken a fundamental step forward in song composition, lyric structure, uniqueness, vocal emotion, performance and musicianship. Much akin to the first album "Five" (released in 2012) founder Raw Zero wrote, performed, and produced this latest offering. The conceptual difference between the 2 albums is that the first album focuses on the balance between greed and compassion in the human race whereas the second album focuses on exposing the oppressively greedy, or as Raw calls them, the "Sick Sick Sicks". However, Raw decided to save the bulk of the exposition until the last 3 songs while reserving the first 3 songs as an attempt to connect with the listener.
The intro of the opening track "Law Zero" is pleasantly misleading with an electronically treated, stereo-panned tremolo effect almost reminiscent of "How Soon is Now" by The Smiths. The intro swells and then transitions into a very hooky non-linear guitar riff that, according to Raw, was inspired one day after listening to Pantera. Law Zero makes no bones about its meaning with the lyric "(Law) Zero states fighting for life should supersede that of gain". Raw is attempting to connect with the listener by suggesting they exercise their capacity for compassion universally because "Law Zero transcends cultures". Start-to-finish the song proves to be an interesting mixture of rock, electronics, and conceptual lyrics.
"Insane" is the next song and follows up with virtually no gap between songs. The beginning is a medium-paced strum on an acoustic guitar balanced with an electronic, stereo-panned effect holding the metronome. The verses over the acoustic portion present a lighter/happier exposé on a sort of psychotic approach to life. The song then blows wide open at the chorus with an explosive entrance by the drums, bass, and electric guitars. Raw provides his description of insanity throughout the chorus before transitioning into a minor key breakdown which concludes with the lyric "while the despots sell the world". The finale of the song brings the real feeling of insanity in the composition with a nerve-jangling effect not unlike "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles.
The title track segues from "Insane" but into something different musically and lyrically. This is the only song on the album in a drop-D(flat) tuning and the lyrics are mostly written in a story-like fashion helmed by a female protagonist. She feels the power of "Law Zero" yet she lives the life of "Insane", so she decides to start asking "why?". By doing this she has freed herself and become aware of the greed imposed by the Sick Sick Sicks. Musically speaking, the emotion in the song really captures the changing emotions of the protagonist. After she realizes "the sickest are all those who don't need yet take" the song enters a finale creating a feeling of angst overlaid by a feeling of hope and enhanced by the use of two different time signatures.
The fourth song "Tilting at Windmills" is a perfect "A-Side/B-Side" splitter as it has a palette cleansing quality about it. Musically, this song is an interesting take on the blues in the way that it is executed with an industrial feel. Lyrically, this is the first song to attack the Sick Sick Sicks by reminding them they are tilting at windmills (aka crazy/delusional). Raw outspokenly reminds the Sick that:
"We need a soul, don't need a "title man". We need a heart, don't need dividing lines,
We need the air, don't need a sky of smog. We need the land, don't need a toxic hog."
The fifth song "End Game" is completely free of ambiguity with its sarcastically-drenched verses and its simple question in the chorus. Raw chooses an odd yet unique approach for the rhythm of this song by incorporating a step-filter to the rhythm guitar coupled with sleigh bell percussion and rounded out by another stereo-panned tremolo effect similar to "Law Zero". To strengthen the chorus lyric "What's your end game?", Raw decided to bring in full drums and acoustic guitars in the vein of "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?" by Led Zeppelin.
The album closer "No More" is a milestone for KornuCopia in the sense that it represents Raw Zero as a fully realized composer. Clocking in at over 9 minutes this song is far from boring and never piques a desire to skip forward. The song is essentially a 4 part movement with a variety of instruments and tones that really compliment each other throughout. Raw appears to base his lyrics around the idea that there's an apathy created in a quest for greed that makes one ignore the suffering that goes on in the world. Much like the rest of the album Raw provides a notable vocal range and emotion to convey his insistence that this apathy should be no more. The lyrics climax at:
"No more death for profit, No More dividing cultures, No More absolute power"
The song's, and album's, finale sums up the spirit of "Sick Sick Sicks" by sampling one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, possibly of all time, by Charlie Chaplin. Beginning at 6:06 minutes the final vocals fade out and then Chaplin's 1940 speech begins softly on top of a finger-picked acoustic guitar and accented bass line provided by Raw Zero. As Chaplin's voice elevates in vocal intensity so does the number of instruments. By the end of the speech Chaplin is passionately pleading with mankind and Raw is doing no less using a combination of acoustic guitar, electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, synth, and violins. This song is truly a feat that Raw Zero will most likely have a difficult time following up on the next KornuCopia album.
In conclusion, KornuCopia has released an impressive 2nd album with "Sick Sick Sicks".
by Will Wallace
February 4, 2015