Well, this is it. The last of the as-of-yet unreviewed vinyl from our May visit to Asia. I enjoyed digging at the various shops in Seoul’s Hoehyeon Underground Shopping Center, and it was down there at Pastel Records that I found this pair of Black Syndrome titles. I was even able to get them at a slight discount, showing up with cash in hand at closing time.
I couldn’t find much about Black Syndrome. They were one of the early South Korean metal bands, and like their peers they borrowed heavily from the hair metal scene both in sound and in look. So let’s just take a listen to each of these and see what they have to offer.
Fatal Attraction (1988)
Black Syndrome come out of the gate fast and hard on their debut with “I’m Your Man”, establishing a fast pace and revealing that at least some of their songs are sung in English. The guitar work is intricate, especially on the ballad-ish “기다리는 마음” (“A Waiting Mind”). Throughout side A I was wracking my brain trying to figure out who these guys remind me of, and it finally hit me – Cinderella, specifically how those glam metallers sounded on the song “Gypsy Road”, which came out the same year as Fatal Attraction. Black Syndrome feel a tad heavier than their better-known contemporaries but hey, what do you expect when one band is named after a princess and the other after something that sounds more like a lung disease you’d get from working too long in a coal mine.
Recommended track: “Rock The Speed”. This is probably the most metal that Black Syndrome get on Fatal Attraction – driving guitars and rasped vocals that show some range. The lyrics are in Korean, but the chorus is in English:
Rocking desire Rock the Night
Rocking desire Rock the Speed.
You get the gist. It’s a song about rocking that has an interlude filled with all kinds of fancy guitar flourishes. Honorable mention to “I’m Your Man”. Dishonorable mention to the last song not he album, “온 국민이 함께 부르는 노래”. Is this actually by the same band? It doesn’t feel like it. It’s more like some poor audio quality 1970s style folk rocker with a female singer. Seriously… is this supposed to be on this record???
If you’re buying this on vinyl, check and see if includes the half-sheet insert with lyrics on one side and a color band photo on the other.
On The Blue Street (1991)
Black Syndrome’s third record opens with a song called “Feed the Power Cable Into Me”. That title alone is enough to give me pause. It’s actually a decent hair metal jam even if the lyrics are a bit weird. Next up is “개인적인 외로움”, and now we’re moving into blues-based hard rock, and I like it. The B side starts off with the two-minute instrumental rocker “Blue Revolution” before taking us into a Ratt-like direction with “First In Line”. Good stuff.
This one comes with a four page insert with lyrics and photos, so once again make sure to check to see if it’s inside before pulling the trigger on the vinyl.
I gotta say, those South Korean bands in the late 1980s/early 90s knew how to rock!