Hwimory is a power metal band from Incheon, South Korea that’s been around the local scene for the last decade or so, and in 2010 released its first self-titled release. Guitar player Lee Jae-Wook also plays for a heavy metal band from Seoul called Mir, but Hwimory is inspired by pure classic European power metal. Apart from the Korean language, there is nothing exotic about this release. The album includes no folk, orchestral, or progressive elements, doesn’t shift to hard rock or heavy metal music, and no guest singers or musicians have been invited as is the case for many contemporary genre bands. Hwimory simply offers eight melodic, up-tempo anthems plus a short introduction in the key of traditional Helloween and Gamma Ray. The band also sounds a lot like earlier Stratovarius, HammerFall, and especially Edguy in the mid to late nineties. Fans of mainstream European power metal will need to give this a try.
As you might guess, the songs are based on powerful riffs and fast melodic solos. The drum play is fast and dynamic, and the bass guitar follows the patterns of drums and guitars but also has a few shining moments of its own. Some tracks include a few keyboard samples in the background, and they are rarely but decently employed. The vocalist offers everything a European power metal fan could wish for: a good high tone and a few energizing screams. However, he also sings a few lower parts and doesn’t sound too forced and high pitched all the time. Bak Jae-Beom reminds me a lot of a young Tobias Sammet, in fact.
There is nothing special to mention about the songs. One could say that they are generic power metal, performed with conviction. I must admit that the opening anthem “Higher” includes so many genre stereotypes that it put a little smile on my face. On the other hand, it also includes a short bass guitar solo in the middle after many ferocious guitar solos which, which is an element that I like a lot. My favorite track is probably the epic closer “A Bear – Part I”, which starts with a few darker and harsher riffs and melodic solos before the track grows more atmospheric (thanks to the keyboard) and prepares for a passionate vocal performance that sets in after two minutes. The song isn’t a firework of originality, but it features all of the elements that you either adore or hate about European power metal even though this band comes from an entirely different peninsula.
Fans of European power metal that are looking for a band that goes back to the basics should definitely check out Hwimory. Europeans get a free lesson on how to play their very own genre quite accurately by this quintet from Incheon.