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 Introduction to Korean Rock

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muckie
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PostSubject: Introduction to Korean Rock   Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:32 am

I consider myself somewhat ahead of the pack when it comes to a non-korean embracing K-Rock, though definately not the first. Back in 2003 we had the korean channel Arirang syndicated through our cable network and that was my first exposure to both korean culture and music, during the time the Hallyu (or "Korean Wave" as they call it) was picking up steam internationally. The first korean rock CD I bought was the debut by Jack in Seoul (who unfortunately never made another album). During this time I made an effort to hunt and discover as many korean rock, metal or punk bands that I could find.

Korean rock has had a long history, going back to the 60s/70s with some of the early pioneers being Songolmae, Shin Hyun Jung, Sinawe, and Boo Hwal, to name a few.

However, although rock and metal found an audience in Korea, most of the music was largely conservative up until the late 80s/early 90s. South Korea's musical evolution has been rather sporadic and abrupt. Certain trends have caught on much later than usual like punk for instance having no real presence until the mid-late 90s. Korea also didn't have goth rock or new wave for instance in the true sense.

Seo Taiji is considered one of the major icons of contemporary music, and the guy is still going in full force today, managing to sell out his concerts within minutes. He began as a bassist in Sinawe and debuted in 1992 with his group "Seo Taiji and the Boys", which was more dance/pop oriented than his later stuff. His song Nan Arayo/I Know was a huge hit from that album, and with this record he influenced a wave of dance and hiphop in Korea. However, Korea eventually saw the rise of many imitators, mostly manufactured pop groups (as Taiji and the gang wrote their own music) which eventually led to Taiji attempting to counter this trend by embracing a more hardrock and metal sound. Influences in his music are varied. I give him alot of credit for not wanting to follow trends in an industry governed by manufactured pop though.

South Korea has a very narrow music industry. Most of the scene is dominated by boybands, girlgroups, ballad singers, and the occassional hiphop group. Rock is somewhat of a minority in the scene and tends to be looked down upon by many koreans because of its ideals. South Korea does not have the same kind of counter-culture as Japan, for instance, as it is largely a collectivist society. Most groups doing rock or its respective subgenres are independant, but this makes for some rather unique music.

In the next post I will give a list of some essential korean rock groups.

Please discuss your experience or questions, comments, critique, etc. regarding Korean rock or metal.
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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:55 am

N.EX.T
If the japanese have X Japan to represent a major band with crossover appeal, then koreans have N.EX.T.
This group, led by frontman and keyboardist Shin Hae Chul, who had a successful solo career, started off doing more dance-oriented music before changing to a progressive rock sound. Though on every album there's always some track that hints at their theatricality. For example, the first album, Home, was influenced by funk and disco, but some conceptual tracks like "At the grave of grandmother" and "Father and I" hint to a more ambitious approach that would be more fully realized in their later material. All of their albums in my opinion have something good to offer, it's hard to reccomend just one but if I had to, it would be The World, as that album really impressed me when I first heard it.

Seo Taiji
Taiji is the 'king of k-pop' just as Michael Jackson is the king of pop-rock. Although I admit there is a tendency for people to overrate his music, this guy is good at what he does since he covers alot of genres. The first album was dance and hiphop oriented, almost like New Kids on the Block kind of stuff, though in my opinion much better. The second introduced more rock tunes but still keeps the "girly taste ballads" as one korean reviewer put it. I reccomend the third as an introduction to him if the early stuff does not sound appealing, as it is more rock/metal oriented. When he went solo on the fifth release, he embraced a much heavier, nu-metal sound. Pretty good if you're into the genre.

Sinawe
This was the band that Taiji originated from and is one of the more endearing korean metal bands of the 80s. If traditional metal is your thing (and even if Taiji is not your thing for that matter) try these guys. They also recall some of the really early hardrock/heavy metal bands from the seventies at times, which leads us to...

Boo Hwal
These guys were also big but hard rock purists may disavow their later work for being more balladish. The first two albums are a good start. I think they have more of that 70s hr/hm vibe than Sinawe, perhaps.

Crash
These guys are often compared to Sepultura. Korean thrash metal, their album "Endless Supply of Pain" was a powerful debut in my opinion. They also collaborate with Taiji on his song Gyoshil Idea. Most of their stuff is pretty good and they stay in touch with their roots.

Dulgukhwa
These guys are one of the prime indie rock bands from the 80s. I have heard their LP and they definately have a good sound going but I haven't heard enough of them yet to have a good opinion of their career as a whole. Still worth checking out.

More coming soon....
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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:15 am











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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:27 am

Of course no k-rocker could be without this one by Lim Jae Bum:


Sung in english too!
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James B.
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:26 am

I dig the melodic aspects of "Farewell To Love" by Sinawe. The tone and volume in the rhythm guitar at the begining of the verses really clashes with everything else going on.

The "My Worst Enemy" song makes me wanna find that cd and explore further.

That Lim Jae Bum sounds like Rough Cutt playing at a South Korean military base bar Laughing very hard


Wait till Chewie sees this thread

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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:26 pm

this is interesting... must delve in a bit further.
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springozzy
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:42 pm

Here is another good Korean metal group. I have the cd At the end of death

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQuDKAfLMsQ
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James B.
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:36 pm

Here is an "easier" view of the link above....Thanks springozzy !


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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:52 pm

I hear lots of K-Pop at work (I work at a hotel in Koreatown, Los Angeles) but they never really play any of the K-Rock stuff. I'll have to show this thread to my co-workers and see what they think.
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Fat Freddy
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:38 pm

James B. wrote:
Here is an "easier" view of the link above....Thanks springozzy !


Pretty good stuff. headbanger

Is that Mike Terrana (Rage, Yngwie, Masterplan, etc.) on drums in the above clip? Sure looks like him.

*EDIT, checked Mike Terrana's Wiki page and it is indeed him!

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chewie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:22 am

Some interesting stuff here. Something about Wild Chrsyanthemum sample sounds like The Little River Band.

That Downhell is pretty cool!
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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:50 am



"Hayeoga", from the second album circa 1993, here's one reason why Seo Taiji & The Boys could be considered the Run D.M.C. of Korea. Notice they cover the guitar solo from Testament's "First Strike is Deadly".
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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction to Korean Rock   Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:07 pm

I recently acquired the last two EPs released by N.EX.T and their leader, Shin Hae Chul. Both are 4-5 track EPs and exceeded my expectations. As always, Shin's solo stuff is more pop/dance oriented and N.EX.T's is metal/hard rock. The ones in question are N.EX.T's 666 Trilogy Part 1 and Shin's Reboot Myself Part 1. As you can see, they were intended to be a series of short EP/mini-albums but with Shin now deceased (in 2014, at the age of 46) there may or may not be any more releases unless they were already recorded and being prepared for a release in some form or another.

Sad to see that he's gone now. The man was known for being outspoken on cultural matters and of course, N.EX.T's lyrics are rife with social commentaries. In our terms, we'd consider Shin somewhat of a liberal, in contrast to some of South Korea's attitudes. He was suffering various ailments including prosopagnosia (the difficulty of recognizing faces) and went into a brief coma after suffering a heart attack. Apparently there were attempts to do surgery and the autopsy revealed that there was medical malpractice involved, for which a lawsuit was filed. Such a shame. All of N.EX.T's work, including their dance/funk influenced stuff is good. I don't know which record to suggest for starters, but World or The Being are a good choice.

On a more positive note, looking forward to watching the Taiji Boys 20th Anniversary 1993-1995 live concert DVD that should be arriving to me today.
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