Popular Korean rock doesn’t do heavy or hard rock. In the era of post-singer/songwriter and the current need for every song to have a rap segment, there isn’t room for a hard rock song, let alone a group dedicated to it. Knowing that, I satisfy my need for hard rock elsewhere, mainly in Western rock bands like Guns ‘N Roses and Nickelback. So imagine my surprise when I discovered an up-and-coming Korean band that not only did the rock thing, but went “balls to the wall” hard. And I’m not talking about the style common in pop-rock groups, either. I’m talking about pure, unadultered, hard-hitting loud rock, full of wailing guitars, thrashing drums, killer bass and screaming all over the place. I would like to introduce you to my new favorite band of Top Band fame, AXIZ. Crank up the volume to 11, motherfuckers, and get ready to scream!
The EP begins with the band going full force on “Why Don’t You Give It Up”, and the first thing that hits you is that voice. Junhyung has the voice of a young man imitating his favorite front-men of 80’s hair bands. And like many of them, he can let out a mean scream, almost to the level of the current scream king, YB. “Why Don’t You Give it Up” is a great lead-in track because it shows you what they’re all about: loudness, guitar riffs out of this world, and a lead singer with the confidence to front all that noise. But the king on “Give It Up” is an amazing guitar solo by guitarists, Miyeon and Jiwan. Those two can shred an electric guitar like no one’s business and you can hear the ferocity and technique behind it. Sure this track is loud, but you haven’t heard loud yet.
Thrown into this debut mini is the lead rock ballad “날 안아줘 [Give Me A Hug]”. A sudden drop in pace, but it is a good ballad. Unlike much that’s out there, there are no strings and piano in this tune. It starts quietly, rises a bit in the bridges, and goes all out for the chorus. Junhyung doesn’t do too well with falsetto, but his quieter segments show a different side to his singing. One that is capable of holding a tune very well. But man, can that kid scream.
“Circus” opens with a drum solo lead-in and goes into a shout-along track that belongs on a jukebox in a dive bar after several drinks. The guitar solos could not be better and the drums could not be louder. Welcome to the made up show tonight is right, and the shouts are more than at home on “Circus”. However, like any record worth its weight, the best is saved for the album-ender, and no one does it better than AXIZ on “Mr. Zero”.
Bassists don’t get too much play in rock bands, but excellent bands know how important they are. And this one has a girl! Bassist Ha Jin wields that thing like a sniper: precise and deadly. The bass riffs in the choruses are fucking amazing, and not just for a rookie. Junhyung’s voice-distortion works perfectly; not too much to be unbearable, but just enough to get the distant anger through the verses. “Mr. Zero” is melodic in its ferociousness and as a band, they sound amazing on it.
Since YB’s stint on I Am a Singer, I’ve been waiting for the next rock release that would capture that kind of live energy. YB’s latest single, “Blue Whale” is not that. AXIZ’s ‘Give Me a Hug’ does not feel as cozy or warm as the title suggest. It is loud, no-holds-barred power rock. It is a lot of fun to listen to, full of energy and there needs to be more of this! I can’t stop gushing, so go have a listen…or ten.
Hi! My name is Xtian, and I’m a total pop music whore. I’m from NYC and can be seen dancing in the streets with headphones permanently glued to my ears. I may not have had a musical background, but I’m a lover of all things music, so I’m excited to be bringing a new voice to the McRoth’s funhouse. Y’all can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or better yet, follow me on twitter, where I do most of my social media-ing, @drowningn00b. See y’all lataz!