Unchained is a Busan-based rock band that has been around for quite a while, releasing EPs and singles here and there. Their last EP was in 2005, and they’ve been relatively quiet ever since. So their recently released full-length album, Thorn, really came out of the blue, and at full force.
Thorn is a solid, juicy rock album, with a lot for the listener to sink their teeth into. It’s moody and emotionally dense, but manages to be simultaneously badass. The writing is polished and intricate, and the performances have a lot of bite to them.
Listening to this album is a non-stop blow-your-socks-off experience. Unchained never let up and drive through the music with remarkable endurance. The guitar, percussion, and vocal writing is agile and taut, so the music never feels like it’s dragging despite being emotionally heavy. The album has a good amount of melodic, harmonic, and textural variety, keeping the whole hour fresh and exhilarating.
The album is thoroughly gutsy. It’s like the group is venting through their music, but in a constructive, refined, and interesting way. I was discussing this album with Korean folk singer SellinSellySelline, who described the group’s sound as similar to Alice in Chains, but with a Korean rock spirit — meaning with a more mournful, angry edge to it. I like how Unchained doesn’t try too hard to be emotionally raw or impressive; good rock music just seems to flow naturally from their pores.
It’s remarkable that Thorn is Unchained’s first full album. Already, the group has developed a bold, convincing sound that is universally appreciable and a brilliant energy. This album is a superb treat and an exciting addition to the Korean rock scene.