Hound – We Will Never Sleep (EP)

We Will Never Sleep coverI was contacted a few month’s ago by South Korean label Realize Records, who described themselves as covering punk, metal, rock, grunge, hardcore and more. If that sounds like a lot for one label to cover, it’s because the region doesn’t have the largest subcultural music scenes, so those bands that there are tend to work and play in a tight-knit community.

(This much is obvious if you’ve ever read the scene reports in zines like Maximum Rocknroll or any of the other larger zines, or indeed the smaller, more politicised ones who tend to be more internationalist in focus.)

Realize also tell me they cover artists from across Korea, Asia, Europe and Mexico, which is pretty far-reaching, with artists including Fatal Fear, Gwamegi, Velvet Coast, Hound, All I Have, Death I Am, Titikkoma, Abyss, Byblis, Ghaddark and others. I’d not heard of these bands before but figured I’d drop all the names in anyway, as it’s always cool to see labels from overseas getting some traction and eartime in other parts of the world!

Anyway, Realize have sent me a couple of EPs to review, from Hound and Velvet Coast respectively. Velvet Coast will follow next week; today’s review is Hound’s We Will Never Sleep, a five-track slab of metal.

Opener ‘Passion Assalamualikum’ opens with an ambient black metal-ish style, delicate yet dark thanks to its minor key as well as that guitar tone. But once it gets going it shifts into a more thrash metal style, blasting out riffs at speed with vocal duties being traded between the dude with the low, gruff voice and the guy with the high-pitched snarl. It’s followed by ‘Falling into the Bottomless Pit’, which opens in a more straight-forwardly chuggy fashion and with a riff that’s far more rock than metal. The same vocal partnership is in evidence throughout and things do get chuggier as we move forwards, although the song doesn’t vary a huge amount throughout – excepting a bass-heavy breakdown that works pretty well – and ends up feeling rather longer than its four minutes.

‘Seed of Treachery’ follows a similar model, although its guitar work is far speedier in the choruses which, coupled with some solid chugs from the rhythm section and thumping drums, keeps up a decent pace. The verses adopt a different approach, going for something more plodding, but it doesn’t quite work – perhaps because the production lacks the edge to facilitate the impact the band is doing for, or perhaps because the style of vocal delivery doesn’t quite fit what they’re aiming for.

‘Against the Weakness’ again draws on a mix of 80s and 90s metal influences; here the vocal work and riffs fit together more neatly and the drums keep things taut throughout. But it’s the final track, ‘The Chases’, that proves most interesting, with some strange vocal samplings at the start and a mode of vocal delivery that for a moment sounds like black metal doing nu-metal – a weird experience. After that it shifts back into the safe territory of decent metal riffs and blasts of guttural vocals.

Whilst We Will Never Sleep isn’t a bad collection of songs on its own merits, the most obvious thing that can be said about it is that it’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before. Although a wide variety of metal influences are drawn upon it doesn’t feel that they cohere together in any particular way, instead feeling more like a band who are unsure who or what they want to sound like.

That said, I’ve never been to South Korea and don’t know much about the country or Seoul in particular, so I don’t want to cast too much judgement about. But it’d be cool if, rather than imitating sounds that’ve come before or been done to death in other parts of the world, why not try and put a spin on things that’s more Korean? But, equally, maybe these guys want to deliberately reject anything that’s trad-Korean, or they want to be part of developing a traditional metal scene rather than something genuinely new and fresh. I don’t know. But as an outsider, or a musical tourist, I’d prefer to be hearing something exciting that I’ve not heard before.

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  1. […] on from last week’s review of Hound’s We Will Never Sleep EP, here’s the second offering from Seoul-based Realize […]