(Today’s guest post comes to us from an NCS reader who goes by the name VyceVictus. He has seen a bit of the world, it seems, including South Korea. Here at NCS, we enjoy spotlighting metal from lesser known corners of the metallic universe, and so this post fits us like a glove.)
During my time in South Korea, I was introduced to the local metal and hardcore scene in Seoul. I was just getting into metal at this time, so the scene was particularly influential; my first ever live show and mosh pit was in Korea.
I’d like to share with you guys a few of the bands that I experienced. Mind you, some of this stuff ranges back quite a few years, so it might seem a little dated. Rest assured, there are some master-level headbangers to be found amongst these catalogs, and I rock these albums in regular rotation to this day. I hope you will too.
The first is from the band Vassline, probably the premier Korean Metal(core) band. They are relatively popular veterans who are still active over 15 years in. They received the Korean equivalent of a Grammy for best rock album a few years back, which should be a solid indicator of their acumen. I’m not versed enough to accurately define musical styles, but to my ears their sound is a mix of Heaven Shall Burn and Arkangel with a heavy injection of Screamo coursing through the veins. Take a listen:
Vassline: “Assassin of Death”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Vassline-Assassin-Of-Death.mp3|titles=Vassline- Assassin Of Death]
Next up is another favorite, Samchung. They are decidedly more hardcore, but they also display a powerful sense of melody in their riffs and solos. Grasping for a comparison, I’d say something like a cross between Motorhead and Madball would be a good approximation of their sound. Their live show is…intimidating. The vocalist sounds like a biker-gang axe-murder, the bassist looks like Odd-Job’s convict brother, and the drummer is no shit Animal incarnate (that’s right, the Muppet.) But offstage, they are the nicest gentlemen in the world.
Samchung: “Way of Man”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Samchung-Way-of-Man.mp3|titles=Samchung- Way of Man]
Mixing things up a bit, we have some Korean Black Metal by the band Oathean. They are another crew of respected veterans who helped cultivate the Korean metal scene. The lead singer/gutarist not only runs a local club space in Seoul, he is also the promoter of the Asia Metal Festival. Oathean are noted for using traditional instruments in some of their songs, adding a unique touch to the genre.
Rounding it out is Mahatma, bringing straight-up thrash. Really not much to say here. Straightforward yet intricate pounding brutality. Although it’s great when another nation brings a signature indigenous element to metal, it’s also just as important that we see how much we have in common. You don’t need to have a gimmick if you just play straight-up killer music, and that’s what we have here. I could easily imagine seeing these guys in a Chicago death metal show or at Duffs Brooklyn (the fact that they opened up for Shadows Fall during their Korean tour is further testament to that universal appeal.)
That was just a broad stroke of what Korea has to offer. If you’re interested in more, check out the Myspace links to the bands I attached. The scene is pretty close-knit, and they usually promote a lot of other bands. You can also check out two of the main Korean metal record distributors, Dope Music and GMC Records at http://dopemusic.co.kr/ and http://gmcrecords.net/ respectively. Most of the stuff is in Hangul, but it’s relatively easy to navigate. Another site that is English-readable and international-shipping-friendly is http://www.mrkwang.com. He has a huge selection of all kinds of Korean music.
Alright dudes, hope you enjoyed some of these tracks. Let me know if you have further questions about any of these guys or the Korean metal scene in the comments. I would also love to hear if any of you have been to Korea and about the awesome experiences you’ve had there. Peace.