Almost ten years ago when I started exploring Korean music, one of the first places I looked was punk music. 99Anger was one of the bands that came up in the limited search results. Even though the band has since broken up, their music was a beacon of how great Korean music was. 99Anger’s final album 2 released in 2009 and I probably found it sometime in 2010 or 2011. It’s one of those albums that’s not in heavy rotation, but when I see it appear I will listen to it from start to finish.
99Anger was a punk band that combined both punk and hardcore in their music. The ferocity of the music was a culmination of the three members who created a standout and easily recognizable voice within the Korean independent scene. A lot of this was provided by Hyun Lee Yang and his vocals. Another big exception was that 99Anger’s songs are in English and could easily be sorted into United States punk rock without anyone knowing the band was from South Korea. The strength of 2 is the never ending energy that starts with “It’s Not My Problem” and ends at “Sick And Tired.” Each song is played and performed with an intensity that’s difficult to find with albums. Most bands will present a very polished version of themselves on the album and then push forward with more energy at live shows. 2 feels like you’re at a live show.
There are a lot of classic tracks on the album. “Music Brings Me Here,” “You The Enemy,” and “The Answer” are the songs that I recognize the quickest, but there among the ten songs there isn’t a track that falls below the album’s high standard. Given the bands long history, they put out four strong releases and continued to perform even after they stopped recording. The end of 99Anger was bittersweet as one of the long running bands in the punk community.
But even though 99Anger closed its time, lead vocalist Hyun Lee Yang continued with a new project. Originally called Gus Benevolent, he shortened the name to Gus. His first release, A Thing Called Tomorrow, features 99Anger songs along with originals. I don’t think there will be a band that can reach the same plateau, but the legacy that 99Anger left behind is amazing.