Sunday, December 6, 2015

Black Metal Banchan - Part 1: Sad Legend + Cheetos

Metal magazines and websites always talk about metal and beer, but what about metal and SNACKS?   Yeah, I know that anyone who listens to the excellent (and my favorite) podcast Illogical Contraption knows that they always do a snack chat segment during their show, but I always feel like I'm missing out on all the good stuff they're talking about because I'm not in the US right now!   Well, I've decided to make matters into my own hands by not just doing my own snack chat (with local Korean snacks since that's where I'm living at the moment), but also making it relevant to metalheads the world over by exploring the mysterious realm of the Korean black metal underground.   Obviously, Korea doesn't have a world-famous METAL scene at all, let alone a black metal one, but that doesn't mean there are some hidden gems lurking amidst the shadows...

Sad Legend - Sad Legend (1998)
First of all, that's a pretty cool album cover.   Yeah it looks a bit amateurish, and the Sad Legend logo is lame as fuck, but it definitely makes sense when you listen to the music itself.   Even if you didn't know this album was by a Korean band, this still feels kind of "exotic" or unique.   Being both atmospheric and melodic, it's kind of reminds me of like old-school Graveworm or something like that (even though most of Graveworm's stuff actually came out after this album was released).   Anyway, what's cool about this album is that it's absolutely drenched in gloomy keyboards, wailing female vocals, haunting male clean vocals, enchanting melodies, and mournful guitar leads, with all the other typical characteristics of the genre such as rasps, blastbeats, etc.  It all feels very late '90s and slightly dated, but I feel like that's part of its charm.

I really wish I could provide a link to their Bandcamp or something, but I have a feeling this CD is long out of print (it's going for between $55-$200 on Amazon right now!) and the band seems to be currently inactive.   Maybe it's on iTunes?   I don't know.   Anyway, you can find it on Youtube (sounds like a low quality upload, but whatever), so check it out if you want!

Sad Legend - classic lineup
The cover art also perfectly captures the mood, I'd say.   I feel like overall thematically what they're going for is represented in the title of the first track, "Han".   In this case, I believe what han is referring to is the Korean phenomenon of a kind of collective feeling or consciousness of the Korean people who constantly feel "oppression and isolation in the face of insurmountable odds (the overcoming of which is beyond the nation's capabilities on its own). It connotes aspects of lament and unavenged injustice" (Wikipedia).

I'm not exactly sure which incarnation
of Sad Legend this is, but thought it
was a fun pic so I decided to include it.
While the validity of this as an actual psychological phenomenon is questionable, my Korean girlfriend (her Malicious Intent black metal horde name is Gumiho) assures me that it's a real thing.   I feel like the music definitely seems to capture that emotion.   While it would have been cool for the band to maybe incorporate some traditional Korean instrumentation or something to further drive this concept home as "authentically Korean" or whatever, I think it's still really cool the way it is.   Anyway, even though I don't really listen to this kind of music anymore, I still found this to be a good album and worth checking out if you're interested in Korean metal or you're looking for some melodramatic, misty-forest-under-a pale-moon-at-midnight melodic black metal.

Your typical cheonyeo gwishin, being all creepy.
If you wake up in the middle of the night to find
THIS standing in the middle of your room,
you may be in trouble.
Also, I could be mistaken, but the woman on the cover reminds me of a cheonyeo gwishin (virgin ghost), a spirit that is commonly featured in many East Asian ghost stories, and, nowadays, movies.   If you've ever seen the American remakes of like Ringu (The Ring) or Ju-on (The Grudge), you'll know what I'm talking.   The girl/woman with the dirty long hair over her face, batshit insane facial expression, and contorted body lurching towards you?   That's a cheonyeo gwishin.   She may not look so bad on the album cover, but just do a quick google image search to see the actual face they have hiding under that creepy mane.   I wouldn't advise you to do this before attempting to go to sleep for the night.  

 Recommended tracks: "Han", "Dawn of Despair", and "Realm of the Soulless".  

Korean Cheetos

Surprisingly, this music seemed to go rather well with the snacks I'll be talking about tonight.   "Why?" you may ask.   Because we're talking about a legendary snack that's in a sad state of affairs right now here in The Land of the Morning Calm.   Korea, we need to talk about your Cheetos situation.   The trend right now is to have everything be honey-butter flavored or sweet and salty, and Korean Cheetos are no exception.   For one, everyone knows that Cheetos should be cheesy, or at least have that option should you want just some good ol' original Cheetos.   However, in Korea, sadly, you don't have that option unless you go to an international mart or something.   From what I've seen at least, you unfortunately only have three flavors to choose from on a regular basis: BBQ, Spicy & Sweet, and Honey Cheese (ugh).   

"Spicy" and Sweet
Let's start with the Spicy & Sweet first.   Honestly, it kind of sucks.   There's too strong of an imbalance with the taste, with it being too sweet and not spicy or salty enough.   In fact, if I didn't know that it was supposed to be spicy in the first place I wouldn't have even noticed.   If you thought maybe you wouldn't be able to handle it because you're in Korea (they love their spicy food!), not to mention also the fact that Chester Cheeto himself is belching flames on the front of the packaging, I can strongly assure you that your mouth will be fine.   It even has spicy peppers and garlic too on there, presumably to emphasize its heat!  C'mon guys!

BBQ...I have no idea what the fuck is supposed to be
going on in this artwork.
Next up is the BBQ.   First of all, this should be amazing because Korean BBQ kicks ass and is one of the best ways to spend an evening with your bros.   In fact, one of the best things about Korean metal shows is that afterwards everyone (bands and their fans) goes out for BBQ afterwards, all the while drinking plenty of Korean beer and gross soju (we'll talk about those another time).   Anyway, a slam dunk for Cheetos right?   Wrong!!  This shit is fucking wack, especially if you compare it to how great Korean BBQ is!   The Cheetos version of Korean BBQ is completely underwhelming- it has a weak taste, it's too sweet, and doesn't really taste like BBQ at all.   It kind of reminds me of like a shitty version of American BBQ chips or something.   It just doesn't really leave much of an impression, other than "blah".   Koreans deserve a Cheetos snack that truly represents what Korean BBQ is all about!   That moksal (pork chop) grilling on the packaging is false advertising!

Finally, we have the dreaded Honey Cheese...

...actually...these aren't too bad!   I spoke too soon!   I had assumed that they were going to be garbage because of the previous two disappointments, but these are surprisingly decent!   They're still a bit too sweet, but at least you can actually kind of taste the traditional Cheetos cheese flavoring or whatever insane chemical shit they use to get Cheetos to taste the way they do.   However, they're still too sweet (too much honey flavoring) and not salty or cheesy enough, and I find myself enjoying it less and less the more I eat.   But then again...ahhh! I don't know what to think, can't make up my mind.   I just wish there was, at the very least, a regular, original Cheetos option.   Anyway, this is arguably the least offensive of the bunch.

No comments: