Review Summary: North Korea tackle the leap into full-lengths with their funky post hardcore. It's just a shame it feels a little disposable.
Despite their roots in Envy On The Coast and The Dillinger Escape Plan, North Korea (technically now simply known as 'NK') have maintained a low-key DIY aesthetic since their quiet inception three years ago. Free EPs Basement Tapes Vol.1
offered glimpses into a brand of energetic, rhythmic post hardcore - but one which wasn't afraid to experiment musically or dabble in melody, and one which wasn't too worried about taking itself that seriously. In refusing to get stuck in the rigidity of a particular sound or austere concept they created something catchy but lively, gritty and interesting; a sound which was diverse and dynamic but didn't fall under its own weight because, most importantly of all, it was fun.
Nothing To Be Gained Here
carries more or less straight on from the EPs. The likes of "Confessional", "Customer" and "Shoulder Gorilla" are the bass heavy numbers featuring Ryan Hunter spitting out his Mike Patton-esque vocals over a layer of fuzzy guitar riffs, all spinning out on separate tangents and licks. "Memo", "Vacation Days" and "X It Out" are slower and quieter, developing complex vocal melodies over a colder and tenser instrumental base. "Set A Fire"'s catchy chorus and explosive ending are album highlights, as is "Customer's" bridge, led by Hunter's soaring vocal melody, and "Confessional"'s thunderous two-note riff. North Korea's funk-driven sound has therefore transferred well onto their début LP, losing none of its spark in avoiding over-stretching itself on the longer format. With such a unique and punchy sound, it's subsequently a bit of a disappointment (and a surprise) that the mark it leaves doesn't seem to last that long.