[Review] HarryBigButton – Man of Spirit

HarryBigButton is a post-hard rock three piece band formed by Siwon Lee (Bass), Sungsoo Lee (Vocalist, Lead Guitar), and Taegi Kim (Drums). Their newly released third full-length album Man of Spirit is a combination of their 2014 EP Perfect Storm, various singles released in between their latest offering and Perfect Storm, and new songs. Man of Spirit delves into some of the destructive human behaviors of the 21st century, as well as touching bottom with somber moods. The album hammers us with a strong spirit and probes into soul-searching. In addition, it offers calm moments and thrilling fun rock ‘n’ roll lead by Sungsoo’s roaring, yet tamed voice.

Throughout Man of Spirit the band explores human behaviors that are prevalent in some societies around the world. The first track that stood out was Contamination. Contamination starts off mellow with distorted vocals whispering “invisible hands swallowing your brain and soul” and continues murmuring “hatred, ignorance, selfishness, dirty tricks… controlling the world by your fingertips.” These days in most countries, our thoughts can be conveyed easily through a phone, computer or tablet and our outlook on the world can be corrupted by those same outlets. Its very easy to speak our minds, cyber bully others, and even nourish ignorant minds. More often than not we discover that friends, family and people we admire reveal their innermost thoughts on subjects like immigration, race or basic human rights and other things that leave us sadly disappointed. This track touches on today’s world problems that shouldn’t be ignored because each day we grow more apart due to hatred and ignorance. As we further listen to the album, Social Network is another track that exemplifies another human behavior that has developed in recent years due to technology, egocentricity.

Social Network, focuses on new friendships and self-centered individuals on social media. The track starts off with a rapid swift guitar riff escorted with fiery drums and a ferocious bass as Sungsoo vents, “I wanna know I wanna know.” Nowadays we can easily befriend people from around the world, but for some, as the friendship’s honeymoon phase dissolves they start to notice things that perhaps aren’t reasonable to share with the public. Sungsoo confesses, I don’t wanna know what you eat or where you go I cannot take it anymore.”  Too much of even a good thing is bad and certainly oversharing is annoying. HarryBigButton strikes down narcissism in one swift move with Social Network. Next, the band dips into a somber mood with SOS (Save our Souls.)

Save our Souls is an enraged yet, sorrowful piece with an unyielding bass line, smooth guitar and steady cymbals with harsh rough vocals that further create a mournful ambient environment. SOS stood out the most on Man of Spirit and is perhaps my favorite, but it’s also bittersweet. I can’t help but think this particular song is written about the tragic Sewol Ferry Disaster. It starts off with a powerful bass riff that leads into Sungsoo’s gravelly hoarse voice screaming “You told me I should stay still no matter what happens.” The song is further carried by the steady sounds of the cymbals and acts as a light in the darkness. He continues to cry “Mayday mayday we’re going down.. Mayday mayday we’re still down here.” Many people around the world were shocked with the news that more than 300 people, mostly students, had drowned en route to Jeju island. As reports came out it was found out that many were still trapped inside the vessel.Though perhaps it sprung from a sorrowful feeling, SOS is a beautifully strong track that brought tears to my eyes, as well as rocked my soul. On the other hand, Drifter dwells in the intimacy of one’s woefulness.  

Drifter dips into low spirits, despair and confusion led by enduring drums and a bit of rebellious guitar melodies. The enunciation of the lyrics in the beginning are comforting and light hearted, “what a life what a day what a wonderful world what a dream what a hope what a love what a perfect world.” The song strolls in an airy way all the way through even though it takes a plunge midway. Just like in real life, we go through ups and downs and the song continues with the same emphasis “Who am I? where am I?.” Some of us can willfully crawl out of a rough patch, but others need help. Sungsoo continues with a tamed voice, “hello hello can anyone save us out of the darkness.” Life is certainly not perfect, but as we struggle to find happiness it’s important to ask for help. Drifter is perhaps the most instinctive piece in the whole album as it follows a natural occurrence of the peaks and valleys in our lives. Furthermore, in a world where everything influences every aspect of our lives, HarryBigButton demonstrates to us their strong spirit with Man of Spirit, Control and Perfect Storm.

Man of Spirit is over the top in every aspect with a strong instigative message, vigorous vocals, solid bass lines and prominent drums. Man of Spirit starts off with an ostentatious bass and guitar that capture your attention instantly followed by over the top drums. With a deep inhale Sungsoo releases a hard hitting roar “Stay hard! Shout loud! Stay awake! Stay awake for your freedom!” It’s no wonder the album is named after this song, it’s what rock dreams are made of and what every fan wishes to experience live. It’s over the top in every aspect without being overwhelming, it builds up suspense and like lightning it strikes down with a ferocious “FREEDOM!” chorus. On top of everything else it carries a strong message of staying alert at all times and to fight for our freedom. In the political climate we are experiencing in America I have certainly gained some strength from Man of Spirit. Furthermore, Control and Perfect Storm exemplifies our battle with ourselves.

Control and Perfect Storm both have a sense of urgency, struggle and self discovery. Sungsoo immediately jumps into “I can’t control myself” accompanied by a urgent high paced rhythm that flares continuously. He jumps into “I know you want me to be smart, I know you want me to be rich…” As they blaze through the song Sungsoo intentionally starts off by whispering “I can’t control myself” and with every line he increases the pitch until he reaches “why should I?” with an unflappable assertive uproar. On the contrary, Perfect Storm battles its demons with a delicate melody. Sungsoo smoothly delivers the verses “It wasn’t light like a butterfly It wasn’t right but a cruel lie… I’m breaking through the perfect storm.” HarryBigButton captures the process of finding your inner strength to combat everyday expectations from either society, family or friends. Self-discovery is perhaps the most difficult aspect of humans especially when we have to stand up firm in what we believe in to find personal or spiritual freedom. After the storm, calm sets in and the sun always comes out. In Man of Spirit you can experience the calm, as well as the energizing sun rays through various tracks like Coffee, cigarettes and rock n roll, Fun is Fun and done is done, Trust Game and Circle Pit.

Coffee, cigarettes and rock n roll is the calm after the storm, while Fun is Fun and done is done, Trust Game and Circle Pit are the energizer bunnies. Coffee, cigarettes and rock n roll carries a soothing melody, with a bit of an accent and a playful arrangement of lyrics. Sungsoo slowly reveals his natural self and despite the slow paced environment he’s in, he patiently waits for coffee cigarettes and rock ‘n’ roll. The lyrics arrangement is clever and diverting.  On the other hand, Fun is Fun and done is done, Trust Game and Circle Pit are exactly what the titles disclosed. They are a breath of fresh air, stimulating, daring and simply downright exhilarating. They are all bulldozers of energy, as they explode into breakneck tunes from start to finish.

Overall, there’s a playful yet serious nature despite the hard sound and rough vocals. It offers a reflection of our current behaviors, but it is also a good source of inspiration for those that are going through turbulent times. There is a balance between elements that make the album enticing and fun without being repetitive or overwhelming. HarryBigButton delivers a constructive view of the world with hard rock ‘n’ roll melodies in Man of Spirit.

You can find HarryBigButton on Facebook & Twitter.

Please purchase Man of Spirit on iTunes

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Tracklist:

1.Man of Spirit
2.SOS. (Save Our Souls)
3.Contamination
4.Drifter
5.Social Network
6.Fun is Fun and Done is Done
7.Trust Game (album ver.)
8.Circle Pit (album ver.)
9.Coffee, Cigarettes and Rock’N’Roll (album ver.)
10.Control (Vintage ver.)
11.Perfect Storm (album ver.)

 

 

 

 

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