Save Me From Myself by Head
Release date : September 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
Penned by erstwhile Korn guitarist Brian Phillip “Head” Welch, the highly anticipated debut full length Save Me From Myself forms a musical companion to Welch's New York Times best selling autobiography. In March 2007, Welch announced the release date of his inaugural book. Entitled Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Speed, and Lived to Tell the Tale, it was slated for issue during July via HarperOne Books. That specific tome chronicled the guitarist's days as part of Korn's lineup, his struggles against methamphetamine addiction, and his subsequent conversion to the Christian faith. Following its initial week of publication, the memoir debuted at number twenty on the New York Times bestselling “Non-Fiction” list. From July 5th to July 18th, Welch conducted a handful of in-store appearances at key North American cities such as New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
Welch left Bakersfield, California outfit Korn during February 2005, citing moral reasons, and the fact he wished to spend more time with daughter Jennea Marie Welch, as what motivated his ultimate departure. Welch had distanced himself from the group for a period of eighteen months, and during his final days with Korn, had attempted to reason with them in regards to their lifestyle choices. Met with frosty responses, Welch departed. Accompanied by members of the Valley Bible Fellowship, Welch was baptized in the Jordan River in Southwest Asia on March 10th.
Authoring material over a period of several months, Welch felt he had composed three album's worth of music. Korn bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu was originally contacted to handle production, but didn't respond to queries. Whilst searching to find a suitable home in the Arizona area, Welch entered Fortitude Studios in Phoenix, and laid down material there from 2005-2007. With the assistance of Steve Delaportas, Welch produced the album. Provisionally entitled It's Time to See Religion Die, Save Me From Myself 's lineup of musicians included, Welch in various musical roles, Archie J. Muise, Jr handling rhythm guitar, Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails) stepping behind the drumkit, and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas) occupying bass. The album's release was originally pencilled to coincide with the issue of Welch's memoirs, but that date wasn't met.
To issue the album, Welch founded Driven Music Group alongside music industry veteran Mark Nawara and entertainment law attorney Greg Shanaberger. Driven Music Group announced a distribution agreement with Warner Music Group's Ryko Distribution in June 2008, so that Ryko would distribute all physical and digital releases handled by Driven Music Group in North America. Via Welch's official MySpace page, a three minute sample of inaugural single “Flush” began streaming on June 16th. On July 8th, the single was exclusively issued via Itunes. Filmed in Los Angeles and released on September 5th, “Flush”'s music video was directed by Frankie Nasso of Nova Entertainment.
Without doubt, Welch's conversion to the Christian faith forms the basis of Save Me From Myself's lyrical content. However, those who feel that Welch may be a “Bible basher” type personality nowadays will be pleasantly surprised by the record's actual material. Initially, let's critique the album's lyrical content. Save Me From Myself reverts between the following; themes lifted from the 2007 tome, and Welch's viewpoint at this specific juncture. In particular, the tracks “Re-Bel” (written after Welch was told about a child who held personal issues as the result of poor parental treatment, reminding Welch of how he had neglected his daughter), “Money”, and “Die Religion Die” detail a somewhat immature perspective. Unfamiliar with Christian music, and perchance new to Christian faith, such a perspective is likely fresh to Welch for those aforementioned reasons. Welch boldly announces intentions to “kill religion”, but arrives at that opinion when the distinction between religion and lifestyle is firmly established amongst those who hold Christian beliefs. Consequently, these numbers seem a little pedestrian.
In the vein of Metallica's ninth studio album Death Magnetic (also issued during September 2008) Save Me From Myself's guns become ablaze from the inaugural notes. As the inaugural trio of compositions unfold, Welch affirms his distinguished songwriting ability. Unquestionably the album's greatest moments, “L.O.V.E.”, “Flush” (regarding Welch's erstwhile methamphetamine addiction), and “Loyalty” (concerning the guitarist's departure from Korn, and where to travel from thereon in) prove ample in surpassing overall expectations for Save Me From Myself. Boasting massive, hook-laden choruses, the three collectively possess Nu-Metal tendencies which simply withstand the trials of age. Audibly an innovative musician, Welch's creative prowess has seemingly rekindled. An additional highlight, the title number bears a somewhat more haunting ambience when critiqued against the album's fellow songs (although Save Me From Myself's material, whilst unexpected, largely features equitably darker tones). Echoing the strained line “God, save me from myself…”, Welch's heartfelt sincerity in mouthing that line broadens its overall appeal.
In all truth, most expectations foretold the arrival of a cheese-laden “I Love Jesus” type Pop affair. However, Welch has ventured towards a wholly differing path. Ever since the guitarist's departure from Korn, admirers of that outfit have dearly yearned for the likes of Save Me From Myself. From its opening moments towards its concluding riffs, Korn's distinct style dominates this album. In light of Korn's seventh and eighth studio records, namely 2005's See You On The Other Side and 2007's Untitled, little, if any, confusion exists regarding the identity of the main songwriter behind Korn's past material. Sadly, this forms the album's central weakness. Aided with the support of his erstwhile comrades, these tracks would prove immensely delightful. Welch's overall execution is mostly precise, although its musical quality would be far superior with the inclusion of his former group mates. Should you draw joy from Korn's material, Save Me From Myself is an essential purchase. If you never heartily embraced Korn's Nu-Metal stylings, Save Me From Myself can do little if anything to sway that opinion. A weighty debut, Welch's future ventures are highly anticipated.