WhamBamSam reviews: My Quest for Korean Metal

This month marks my 13th year of Taekwondo. I absolutely adore it, and through my love of kicking people I have become interested in Korean culture, even going so far as to take Korean for my college language requirement. However, as a sane person, ardent metalhead, and vicious elitist I have no tolerance for K-Pop whatsoever. This quandry compelled me to ask Gildan Bladeborn - who is something of a resident expert here on the review boards on obscure and interesting metal - if he knew of any good Korean Metal. Unfortunately he was unfamiliar with the music of the far east. But when the going gets tough, the tough go to youtube, and so began my venture in search of metal music from the Korean peninsula.

It did not begin well. The first band I encountered was called Black Hole, who were presumably so named for the sheer massiveness of their pussies. I tried at least 4-5 songs and all of them were crappy ballads trying to be passed off as metal without even the decency to use distortion. The next band in line were a group of metalcore wankers called Vassline. There is little as musically despicable as harsh vocals poorly executed, and their sad attempt at screamo/growling was nothing short of deplorable. There really are very few redeeming qualities to either band beyond names that easily facilitate this paragraph's half-assed jokes.

The third group I encountered - a Thrash Metal band called Crash - didn't do it for me either. Then again, if you're into Thrash you probably don't care about the yammering of someone who describes Metallica as "what Iron Maiden would sound like if they were less talented and slightly constipated" so I'll just post the video here. Come up with your own damn opinion.


My fourth investigation finally yielded success with my discovery of Legend, and their 2009 debut album The Lost World which some courageous hero conveniently put up on youtube in its entirety complete with track numbers. They describe themselves as Melodic Speed Metal, but a more accurate description would be Melodic Power Metal, with occasional use of symphonic and progressive elements. Yes, they do play very fast, but that's commonplace in Power Metal, and production is too clean for it to really be considered Speed Metal (good thing too). Legend are technically quite impressive instrumentally. Their singer, while not exactly on the same level as the likes of Bruce Dickenson or Rob Halford is also good, but his accent errs on the side of gratuitous whenever he attempts to sing in English, which he unfortunately does for most of the album. Between this issue and my not speaking Korean very well, I can't understand any of the lyrics. This issue combined with their impressively fast playing make a lot of the songs sound a bit samey on the first few listens while you get used to it, but there's certainly a lot to like here. Here's one of the English songs where the Engrish even finds its way to the song title (it's also one of the best songs on the album).

As I said earlier it really is a shame that they insist on doing so much of the album in English. While the Korean lyrics aren't any more understandable unless you happen to speak the language fluently, the vocal performance is much clearer and hence of significantly superior quality in the singer's native tongue. Here are the two songs I consider to be the best on the album, both of which are in Korean.

The three songs posted, along with the title track are my favorite songs on the album, with the only weak point being the rather dull ballad "Harmony" which unfortunately was chosen as one of the only two initially English songs to be redone with bonus versions in Korean, the other being "Death Knight" which is embedded above.

One of the really disappointing things about The Lost World is that it's rather more problematic to purchase than it ought to be. It isn't available on Amazon or the iTunes store, and almost certainly wouldn't be something one could just pick up while at Best Buy. The only site I found selling it was this one and the $14 they're charging is a bit steep. On the upside, if you can find another piece of Asian media that strikes your fancy and so drive the price over $25 you'll get free shipping.

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Yeah, ask me for progressive metal from say... Tunisia, and I'm your guy, but the far east isn't really my strong suit (or at least metal from the far east isn't, I've acquired some working knowledge of a few interesting Japanese performers in other genres).

Glad your search proved fruitful - I'd say the 4th time was definitely the charm, that first Legend track was pretty damn decent, very reminiscent of various European bands in that genre, and so much more pleasant than K-Pop it's not even funny (haven't listened to the other ones yet). Shame the album isn't more widely available, I could see myself adding that to my collection, but not at a $14 dollar price point.

 

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