Take a Look in the Mirror is the sixth studio album by American nu metal band Korn, and is the last studio album to feature their full original lineup, with Brian "Head" Welch departing from the band soon afterwards (however, Brian rejoined the band a decade later, in 2013, with the release of The Paradigm Shift). It was also the last studio album by Korn under Epic/Immortal.
The album continued Korn's lowering in sales, debuting at number 19 and peaked at number 9 with first-week record sales of about 179,000, due to the release date of the album being pushed up to a Friday, with fewer sales than if it was released on the standard Tuesday. The track "Did My Time" was previously released as a CD single for the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and the track "Right Now" was accompanied by a provocative cartoon video animated by Spike and Mike. The ending track "When Will This End" is followed by a long silence before a live cover of Metallica's "One" starts playing. The album was also released in a "clean" version which utilized backmasking as well as growling in place of profanity. The band has admitted in interviews to writing this album at somewhat of a rushed pace, due to the sales of Untouchables not reaching the heights they were expecting, and having to write with the time restraint of being on that summer's Ozzfest tour. Take a Look in the Mirror has sold over 1.2 million copies in the US and over 2 million copies outside of the US according to Nielsen SoundScan as of January 4, 2013 and was certified platinum on December 16, 2003. It has been claimed that the album was rushed, due to the lower than expected sales of Untouchables which had left the band in debt.
Critically acclaimed rapper Nas is featured on the album.
Take a Look in the Mirror marks Korn's attempt to return to a more aggressive sound as featured on their earlier albums, with guitarists Brian "Head" Welch and James "Munky" Shaffer mostly utilizing thick, heavy distortion and the occasional clean tones for contrast. The album features strong elements of nu metal and has the aggressive sounds featured on their early work, as well as a reworked and re-recorded version of the track "Alive", which had previously only been released on the band's first demo, Neidermayer's Mind. Also of note is the song "Play Me" which features rapper Nas, making Take a Look in the Mirror the first Korn album since Follow the Leader to feature such a collaboration. Furthermore, Davis plays bagpipes on "Let's Do This Now", marking the return of a tradition that has, to date, only been absent on Untouchables. Regarding the making of the album, guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer recalled "We weren't in the best space. The songs weren't flowing and the creativity was a bit muted from these personal dramas each of us had." He also claimed the album was a forced effort.Jonathan Davis of Korn said “[This album] is about us as a band, taking a look in the mirror and remembering where we came from, remembering our roots, going back to basics,” Davis said. “We reflect and look back why we really got into this band to begin with and why we started it. It’s to make aggressive, heavy music. Over the years … we were just experimenting. It always was Korn, but it was different spins on what we were doing. So this time we wanted to make an aggressive, heavy album and just kill it. And that’s why we’ve produced it ourselves. Nobody knows Korn better than ourselves.”.
Take a Look in the Mirror has received mixed reviews from professional critics but acclaim from fans. Metacritic scores the album 49 based on 9 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews", while the user's average score is 8.2/10.AllMusic's Jason Birchmeier states the album is "a little paradoxical, but that's precisely what makes Take a Look in the Mirror so interesting, especially for longtime fans" and goes on to say that "because of the emphasis on brevity and variety (and especially quality), the album's over before you know it and you're left feeling hungry for more Korn." On the contrary, Entertainment Weekly scored the album a D, saying "Korn remain[s] technically proficient, but Take a Look in the Mirror serves only to make the case that the genre has officially screamed itself into caricature." NME gave the album a negative review, criticizing it for being a "self-parody", they wrote "this is an exercise in sterile studio-rock. Meticulously Pro-Tooled, and built almost entirely around bassist Fieldy’s relentless, sludgy mid-range, it’s an approach that demonstrates little craft and even less actual feeling." In 2005, the album was ranked number 384 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.
In a 2013 interview, guitarist Head cited Take a Look in the Mirror as "the worst record we did."
The album contains a scrapbook of photos from the band's personal collection, titled "SkЯapbook", instead of a front cover booklet, however, some copies do not feature a booklet, instead, it was released with a normal front and inside cover. The limited edition version contains a bonus DVD.