7th Issue


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7th Issue Review

by Alexey Eremenko

Seotaiji began his career in a dance-pop boy band, but soon steered the group toward more heavyweight lyrical and musical matters, and after leaving his band he became South Korea's main alternative rocker. That's an especially neat achievement, considering that he's nowhere near prolific -- in the decade since his solo debut in 1998, Seotaiji released only three records (counting the debut), each lasting only about half an hour. However, this is a case of quality over quantity, because 7th Issue is a very well-done piece of modern rock/metal. Seotaiji doesn't attempt to hide his influences -- the music is indebted to American metalcore of the Sevendust/Godsmack kind. But Seotaiji adds an interesting upgrade to this -- admittedly pretty stale -- sound by shedding all the angst that seemed irreplaceable to nu metal and alt-metal since Korn first tuned to dropped A. Instead, he throws in a good amount of romantic melodies, although this move isn't a commercially conscious sellout -- the result rather reminds of Jesu, with the same big guitars that create a sunny mood, plodding ahead at a steady relaxed tempo. Seotaiji isn't really Justin Broadrick, and 7th Issue is more of a proto-Jesu, without this band's hypnotizing, majestic drone; some of the tracks are still fast ("Hefty End"), and most are too dynamic. But it's still the kind of metal that sounds positive rather than menacing. If that's not enough, there's another reason to enjoy 7th Issue as well: the quality of songwriting. The album is full of smart textures and arrangements, right up to tiny Aphex Twin breaks ("DB") that sound so natural they're hard to spot at first, and, while there are no instant hits here, a couple of listens will reveal all the small hooks to sing in. Even the short duration doesn't work against 7th Issue, because Seotaiji can free flow quality riffs like a rock & roll James Joyce, and he packs them tight enough to make the record a good example of the "less is more" adage at work.

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