Saturday, December 12, 2015

Black Metal Banchan - Part 2: Oathean + Doritos

For Round 2 of the Black Metal Banchan (if you don't know what banchan is, here's the Wikipedia link for it you lazy fuck :D).   Anyway, I chose this name for the series because it's fairly similar to, say, the classy smorgasbord (Sweden), the potpourri (France), or even the all-you-eat Chinese buffet of gluttony and self-loathing (USA).   There's a wide variety of food, and something for everyone!   Talking about black metal and snacks together are similar to this same concept, in that they go together quite well and you're bound to find something that you like, whether it's a certain band, a certain snack, or a combination of the two together!   I don't know about you guys, but for me personally, I love come homing home, immediately stripping down to my underwear, and putting on some black metal while enjoying a nice snack.   So who knows?!  You may just discover your new favorite snack and/or black metal band by following me on my journey deep into the mysterious heart of both the black metal AND snack scenes here in good ol' South Korea!!  

When I played Diablo for the first time (I think I was about
10 or 11), I remember being so scared to go into that monastery.
You just knew there was a bunch of evil shit in there waiting
to kick your ass.   I can't believe I didn't shit my pants when I
encountered The Butcher that first time.   Anyway, the
Tristram theme may quite possibly be my favorite song
from a video game of all time!
Last time, we talked about two classics- one was a classic Korean black metal band (Sad Legend), and the other was a classic snack (Cheetos).   This time, we're going to talk about two more classics:  arguably Korea's most popular black metal band thus far, Oathean, and arguably the most popular snack chips in the world (Doritos).   Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking.   Wulf, when are we going to actually delve into the KVLT Korean snacks and black metal???   Why are you playing it safe and just sticking to the obvious stuff?  Well, just you wait!   Just like in Diablo (or seemingly any RPG really), you start off with what's familiar and easy before eventually journeying deeper and deeper into the ominous dungeon below the abandoned monastery outside of town.   

Oathean - The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow (1998)
Interesting album cover, but I have absolutely no idea what's
supposed to be going on here.   Seriously!   Google
it or take a closer look and try to figure out what the deal is.
Anyway, it's still a cool cover, even if it is kind of weird.
Coming out the same year as their black metal brethren Sad Legend's (see previous post in this series) debut album, Oathean instead take a different, more death-metal and folk inspired approach to their brand of melodic black metal.   However, there are some similarities as well, such as the melodramatic, mournful guitar-driven melodies, the atmospheric keyboards,   What really makes this album stand out are the inclusion of traditional Korean folk instruments, such as the daegeum.   Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure if the band was able to find someone who was able to successfully translate the song titles into proper English, so you're stuck with song titles like "Transparent Blue Light, So Too Much Tearful", "In Fear With Shiver", and my personal favorite, "The Rotten Egg Smell Stuck on My Belly".
ESL song titles aside, the music itself is quite well done!

I'm pretty sure this is an older pic of Oathean, but I
don't know if it's the same lineup as the one on
"The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow".
Both Sad Legend and Oathean made their debuts in what is still considered a tiny metal scene (and played black metal, at that), so, with the exception of Scandinavia and Finland, we would all understand if these records were garbage.   Obviously, they're not at the same level as, say, "In the Nightside Eclipse" or "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", but the quality is quite good considering that before these albums came out, there was very little in the way of a Korean black metal (or extreme metal, for that matter) scene.

A good representation of what this album is all about can be found in the song "In Fear With Shiver" (haha it's hard to even write that with a straight face), which contains a lot of really interesting stuff.   Adventurous, wintry melodies, a sorrowful acoustic guitar and daegeum accompaniment, Kim Do-su's raspy howl that reminds me of a wounded, dying's a really interesting song!   Below I've posted a live version, and you can see how they replaced the daegeum part with their female vocalist (Lim Ji-nah) singing the melody instead, which is kind of cool.   Also, check out Kim Do-su's passionate vocal performance as well, especially at the end!

I feel like maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I'm starting to notice that these Korean black metal bands seem to be channeling the feeling of han (see my last post, and/or Wikipedia for a brief mention of what han is) in their music.   Yeah, I know that ALL black metal bands are attempting to channel these feelings of depression, isolation, hopelessness, etc. in their music, but the fact that Koreans straight up have a unique word that captures all these emotions/mental states (Sad Legend even have a song named after it) perhaps makes it worthy of at least briefly discussing or mentioning.    Remember, these albums were coming out in the late 1990s, before the whole DSBM (Depressive Suicidal Black Metal) trend became all the rage.   In the '90s, black metal was all about Satan, blasphemy, and misanthropy.   While I highly doubt these Korean black metal bands had any influence on the early DSBM artists and trendsetters, there's something to be said for this original, "sad" take on black metal.   I'm not entirely sure what the lyrics are to this album, but they're definitely coming from a dark place in the lyricist's psyche, and you can hear it in the music.   Pretty cool, and definitely an overlooked, unique detail in attempting to understand Korean black metal.   As I'm writing this, I just checked back on an Oathean video interview with ROKrock (a now seemingly defunct Korean rock/metal site) conducted a couple years ago, and it looks like the interview touched on this (han is mentioned) a bit as well, in that the first album especially feels very "Korean".   If you're interested, check it out!

Anyway, I have no idea what the band is up to these days, as I guess there's been a bunch of drama and turmoil in the Oathean camp as of late.   I probably shouldn't go into the details in this post (for now, at least), but as of this writing I'd say the status of the band is unknown.   Too bad, as many would argue that they're probably the best, or at least the most popular, Korean extreme metal band.

Recommended tracks:  "In Fear With Shiver", "The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow", and "Punishment of Being Alone, Its Cruel Strength Breaks Me Away".

OK, enough dorky black metal chat!   Let's talk snacks!

Doritos Mango Salsa
I had to take a picture of these myself because
apparently they're so obscure that they failed
to show up in image searches for BOTH
Google and Naver.  That's how you know
I'm really bringing you the true underground of
the snack scene here in Korea.
OK, now these are seriously funky.   Possibly the strangest chip I've ever tasted, honestly, and I really can't decide if I like it or not.   At first it has this really cool salty, sweet (mango flavor), slightly spicy, zesty lime flavor if that makes any sense at all.   However, after a couple seconds it gets pretty sweet, and the aftertaste is kind of gross.   After waiting a bit, the sweetness goes away and you're left with a mild spicy kick that lingers for awhile.   Yeah, kind of like the Cheetos Honey Cheese I talked about in the last post, these wouldn't be too bad if they weren't so fucking sweet.   Bleh, yeah overall I'm not feeling these at all.   They started off quite tasty, though!

Doritos Nacho Cheese 
I'm pretty sure these are the same as the American nacho
cheese ones, they taste exactly the same.   Unfortunately,
I didn't take this picture, just found it on
Google.   As you can tell, Doritos at this time
were promoting the new Avengers movie, so
each of the different bags had different
Avengers characters on them.   I guess this
Captain America's go-to snack of choice, except
I imagined he'd be more of a Jacked Ranch Dipped
Hot Wings guy.   Oh well, maybe just in Korea?
these are as good as it gets here in Korea.   Also, these are the hardest to find as well, or at least it seems that way.   Most convenience or grocery stores only carry like the honey chili flavor (ugh) or the Cool Ranch, which is fine.   However, I guess it's kind of the same complaint I had about the lack of an original Cheetos flavor available...when you're in the mood for just some good ol' cheesy corn chips/snacks, it always seems like are out of the question.   In fact, I could just be getting paranoid, but I'm pretty sure all of the convenience stores near me just straight up discontinued carrying Doritos altogether!   I've obviously been in this country too long because A) I actually noticed that they stopped stocking Doritos, and B) I'm seriously considering writing to Frito-Lay and/or Lotte (who I guess is in charge of Doritos production in South Korea or something) to tell them that these flavors are wack!   Haha I doubt they'll listen to me or even respond, but who knows?!  I may even get some insider info about upcoming Doritos snacks.   Maybe they'll even put ME on the cover of the Doritos bag!!   Yes, that's it!!  I'll be famous!!!!  MONEY!!!  WOMEN!!!!  POWER!!!! IT WILL ALL BE MINE!!!!!!

Doritos Honey Chili
Starting to notice a pattern with the
While the traditional Doritos corn chip taste is there and I dig the mildly spicy chili flavor, unfortunately I feel like the honey taste is also slightly too strong and makes for a weird combination, aftertaste, and lingering flavor on your lips that you can taste if you lick them.   Yeah after awhile these taste fairly funky, but definitely not as weird/bad as the mango salsa one.   Still not as good as the typical nacho cheese flavor that you'd find anywhere in the US.   However, you'll find THESE anywhere they sell Doritos, especially to capitalize on the whole "honey butter" craze that's been all the rage here these past couple of years, although apparently everyone's starting to get sick of it now (thank fuck...I've never been a fan).

Doritos Cool Ranch
This is actually kind of interesting from a psychological perspective.   When I first came to Korea, I didn't really pay attention to the Doritos flavors because I guess I just never really saw them on sale, and when I did I think I tried maybe the honey chili flavor and wasn't very impressed.   Anyway, at one point I was really hungry and happened to be in a convenient store that had some Doritos in stock, but my only choices were the honey chili flavor and then some other flavor that looked like mayonnaise or something (Cool Ranch, obviously) but I think I must have been in a hurry because I didn't really pay attention to what flavor they were, other than I knew that they weren't the honey chili and so they were most likely a better flavor.   Upon trying them, I remember later being kind of disappointed...until I realized halfway through the bag that the front of the bag did indeed say "cool ranch" (in Hangul, "쿨렌치"), but since it was in Hangul I guess I just didn't bother reading it and just went by the mayonnaise/cream picture underneath it as an indicator of the flavor they were going for.

I took this pic, but I have no idea why it looks
almost like a black and white picture.   The
bag has just a weird color I guess, plus the
lighting in my room is awful.
Anyway, I felt like a moron, because back home I of course would have no problem eating Cool Ranch Doritos.   So was I not that into these because of the different packaging, or are they actually inferior to American Cool Ranch Doritos?   Personally, I'm going to go with the latter.   I'm eating them right now, and even though it's been years since I've eaten the American version of the Cool Ranch Doritos, I'm pretty sure the Korean version is the same.   So yeah, that's kind of interesting, I suppose!   Or maybe I'm just losing my mind.

There were actually a few other flavors it looks like I missed the boat on.   One of them I never got a chance to try (Yogurt-flavored Doritos, (huh?!)), and the others (Doritos B.O.M.B. (I guess similar to Roulette which you guys had in the States?) and Extreme Barbecue (Korean-style, of course!)) I'm pretty sure got pulled from production awhile ago because I haven't seen them on sale for a long time.   Anyway, sorry I missed those!   As a gesture of conciliation, here's the Korean commercial for Doritos B.O.M.B.:

Going to be interesting to see how Doritos play out in Korea in the future.   These current flavors just aren't going to cut it.   I have no idea about the numbers so I could be full of shit, but for what it's worth, I never see Koreans eating Doritos (or Cheetos, for that matter).   Frito-Lay and/or Lotte need to step up their game, because I know these could be huge here!

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