Have you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed over traditional Korean instruments with post-rock metal? Enter Jambinai! After their debut in 2010, Jambinai has gone from strength to strength resulting in a performance at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018. ‘ONDA’ is the bands’ third album and its an assault on the ears and mind.
At the centre of the music are a guitar, a bamboo oboe (piri), the bow-stringed haegum and the zither geomungo. With tracks like ‘Sawtooth’ or the raw Nightwish-esque ‘Square Wave’ – you’ll hear these instruments often become electrified. The zither and guitar interplay to create crunchy basslines and melodic replacements for keyboards. The piri and haegum often then take over where a lead electric guitar would. In tracks like ‘Small Constellation’ and the epic 13 minute ‘In The Woods’ there are sections where the strings are like guitar solos. Then the shoegaze post-rock electric guitars will often come in and flood the traditional instruments. Often it feels like war.
Across ‘ONDA’ one of the things that struck me was the aggressive passion behind the music. Most tracks have vocals from the band (both male and female) but they wrap around huge drum filled explosions of noise and guitar thrashing. Most post-rock relies on the bludgeoning repetition yet Jambinai refuse to let their tracks sit still. In some ways it reminds me of the angriest Sigur Ros tracks if they were full of shoegaze metal… and Korean. ‘Event Horizon’ is the best example of the ferocity as the entire track is a constant build-up of noise and chords. Usually its the kind of things you get in a middle eight section but here that is an entire four-minute track of powerful catharsis.
The title track ‘ONDA’ closes the album off brilliantly too. It starts off reminding me of Mongolian tribal metal band Tennegar Cavalry. Its beats are deep and the traditional instruments and vocals are like calling chants. Then at the two-thirds mark, it explodes into a gothic chanting post-rock anthem. You can’t help but be overcome with the electricity that the band pulses through the speakers.
Long term readers will know I have a penchant for mash-ups of culture or genre. Jambinai does just that and in doing so creates a perfectly dark and heady treat for all rock and cross over fans. I’d love to see them live in a stadium – it is where their music belongs. Visceral rock defined.
Recommended track: ONDA
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