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Korean Rock Recall: Looking Past The Hype On Pyha's 2001 Teenage Masterpiece 'Hyungga Is A Tangled Story, Pt. 1' [AUDIO]

By Jeff Tobias | September 24, 2014 05:17 PM EDT


Sometimes, a story can be more important than its subject. Who is Robert Johnson without the myth of his sold soul? Would his legend stand just as tall without having a supernatural story to support it?

Korean black metal artist Pyha has a similarly unbelievable backstory. However, in his song "Hyungga Is A Tangled Story, Pt. 1," Pyha shows that his music can stand on its own, whether or not the legend surrounding it is true.

Needless to say, this rather obscure (and extremely oblique) music doesn't cast a shadow as long as Robert Johnson's. But the rumors about it are just as intriguing.

In 2008, a CD-R of Pyha's album "The Haunted House" made it to the West Coast metal label tUMULt. Like many black metal acts, Pyha was a solo artist, playing every instrument. And like many black metal acts, he was very reclusive, with little known about his whereabouts or motivations. And according to the label, the music heard on "The Haunted House" was recorded back in 2001, when Pyha was a mere 14 years old.

A 14-year-old cranking out a DIY recording isn't anything new. However, even a casual listen to "The Haunted House" would be cause for concern for its creator, no matter what their age.

Simply put, it's some of the most singularly intense black metal to come from any continent. Lo-fi, monomaniacally aggressive and devastatingly pained, "The Haunted House" is a staggering document.

The song "Hyungga Is A Tangled Story, Pt. 1," is the album's stand out track.

It's not totally implausible that an ambitious angst-ridden teen could be responsible for music of such marked ferocity. After all, in contrast with the far more technical genre of death metal, black metal emphasizes intensity over proficiency.

Besides, "Hyungga" does contain moments of perturbing amateurism. After a minute of thick fuzz, the distortion recedes to allow for some arpeggios on a blatantly out-of-tune guitar to be heard.

A sign of inexperienced youth?

Perhaps. But this sort of "error" is a hallmark of many black metal artists, no matter what the age; flaws such as these are often built into the genre.

Melodramatic whispers and synthesized voices accompany this sullen guitar. Following that moment of askew balladry, a hard cut occurs in the music. The sheets of fuzz have returned and will be with us for the song's remaining six minutes. The torrential distortion is joined by a domineering drum machine pattern, which also maintains its stolid mid-tempo lurch throughout the song's duration. Pyha's voice, tortured and guttural, is the most dynamic element, moving from banshee shrieks to lion-like roars.

The song is repetitive and single-minded to the bitter end. It's also incredibly effective. To represent emotions like pain, despair or rage, is to represent a distinct mindset. These are not complex emotions and as such, the music doesn't need to worry itself about variety in its structure. This is pure music.

But beyond any intellectual analysis, "Hyungga Is A Tangled Story, Pt. 1," rocks.

The beat is something a caveman might nod his head to, which I'd consider high praise. The vocals, however wrought, are as invigorating as they are cathartic.

No matter how old Pyha may have been when making this music, the powerful statement it makes stands alone.

Check out Pyha's "Hyungga Is A Tangled Story, Pt. 1" RIGHT HERE

Jeff Tobias is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Lately, he has been studying obscure tuning systems and working on his jump shot.

Tagged :  Pyha, Hyungga is a Tangled Story, The Haunted House, tUMULt, black metal


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