Released: 2005, The End Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
The logo looks as if it reads “Oaken Spleen” or “Gut Head.” I can live with either, I suppose. The blurb says “quality Melodic Death from South Korea.” And you know what? It is. Take that, Kim Jong! Who’s Rick James, now, bitch?
Despite an intro that suggests a PBS special, the disc is pretty hot for an underground release. The production is, for sure, a little raw—the vocals are up in the mix a bit too high, the bass is a bit much, and the guitars could probably use a fresh mix, but all in all, this is heads and taint above a lot of what gets called “Melodic Death” these days. This compares favorably to vintage Swede lore as Prophanity, Gates Of Ishtar. The Moaning, and even Mithotyn.
Where the band excels is in the instrumentation—there are oodles of classy keyboards and faux-classical instruments about, and yet it never sounds like video game music (a la Children Of Bodom). It could compare favorably to Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, and neither band feel insulted.
The drums are excellent; Woon Kim is a human tsunami. This was obviously done on a budget, so anything that stands out like this is due to the sheer force of musicianship, and not studio trickery, as is so common.
Vocally, Do-Su Kim goes for a standard Black Metal rasp, without screeching like a weasel with a fork in its bowels.
“Depths Of Despair” sounds like a creepier Kalmah; the piano accompaniment is completely out of nowhere—like Satan having dinner music while he tears into a pleasant slice of milk-fed lamb or veal, while Nero tortures Augustine in Hell. “The Origin” and “Wandering Soul” sound like vintage Euro-Death all the way, with a handful of Monumentum-like keyboard.surprises here and there. Japanese Blackened ‘Shroom-Metallers Sigh are a decent reference at times. “A Life Of Suffering…” has more of a Dissection feel, before bringing in a number of folk elements, akin to LUNAR STRAIN-era In Flames (think “Star Forsaken”).
Most of the tracks flow nicely into one another—all in all, this is a solid release, on par with anything out there, from a corner of the world hardly associated with this sort of genre. There are no bad tracks; that which does not stand out, still manages to contribute atmosphere. Like dirty sex or pizza (but not sex with dirty pizza), even when it’s less than awesome, it’s still way better than anything else you might have going.
This comes highly recommended, and is easily the best obscure Melodic Death catch since Plastic Earth.