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Korean Rock Spotlight: Pyha Jang's Latest Project Project Gonguri Keep It Slow And Low On 'Unwanted Man' [AUDIO]

By Jeff Tobias | November 21, 2014 11:32 PM EST


Ask any physicist: everything is relative, even time. So how does that account for the appeal of doom metal?

Doom metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that emphasizes the slow and the low. In contrast with death, speed or thrash metal, doom metal prizes glacial tempos and thick textures.

Gonguri, a doom metal band that emerged this year from Seoul, exemplify doom metal's best qualities.

As arbitrary as building a genre around such-and-such beats per minute might seem, on their song "Unwanted Man," Gonguri exploit the benefits that come with slow, sludgy sounds and speeds.

The three-man group released their debut cassette, simply titled "2014 EP," in July. The four songs contained therein are unrelentingly dense, almost suffocating in their saturation.

If the voice heard on "Unwanted Man" seems familiar to those following Korean metal, that's no error. Gonguri is the latest vehicle of Korean black metal icon Pyha Jang, the wunderkind solo artist who turned heads with his 2008 album "The Haunted House."

The song begins with the kind of head-nod-inducing groove that is a signature of doom metal. This is a "feel" that can be traced back to Black Sabbath, who first investigated the visceral thrills of crawling tempos on "Electric Funeral" and "Black Sabbath."

While Ozzy, Tony, Bill and Geezer gave birth to this aesthetic, it was nurtured and made modern by groups including Eyehategod, Melvins and Sleep.

Gonguri travel down the path blazed by all of these vets of sludge, following in a manner that is worshipful yet attempting to strike out on their own.

What gives this music its potency is found in the subtle variations.

Gonguri do not plod along at a single tempo throughout, but rather make nearly-imperceptible shifts, allowing drum fills to act as cues to kick it up a few notches or allow the pace to further slacken. These variations give the slowest parts their gut-wrenching power, a sort of drama that can only come with contrast.

If "Unwanted Man" was all movement and no acceleration or deceleration, it'd be boring. Instead, by adding these minute differences, Gonguri succeed in making it triumphant.

The thick guitar textures on "Unwanted Man" go hand-in-hand with these tortoise-slow speeds.

Imagine a normal rock song played on a tape player and slowed down: as the speed decreases, the pitch goes down, too. This is meant to be the slowest of the slow, typical music taken to all possible extremes.

After all, without a sound bolstered by crushing guitar tones and hefty drum fills, music this slow would be in danger of collapsing. By maintaining sustained riffage throughout, Gonguri's song feels natural and powerful, like watching a waterfall or volcano in slow motion.

It's exciting to see a band emerge with this much self-possession and it'll be interesting to see where Gonguri go next, at whatever speed they choose.

Listen to Gonguri's 2014 track "Unwanted Man" RIGHT HERE

Jeff Tobias is a composer, writer and teacher currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been studying the music of Helmut Lachenmann and stepping up his breakfast burrito game.

Tagged :  gonguri, unwanted man, doom metal, Pyha, korean rock, Korean Rock Recall


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