Without a doubt, ATEEZ is one of the groups to look out for during 2020. After a successful year of promotions and non-stop releases, the group rounded out their Treasure series earlier this year with Answer. So what was next for the group? Well, they were meant to embark on their Map The Treasure world tour. But that has been postponed due to the ongoing global health pandemic. And since then, we haven’t heard too much from the group, aside from virtual concerts and some special stages. But that all changed yesterday, after they returned with their fifth mini-album Zero: Fever Part 1. On this mini-album were two tracks (INCEPTION and THANXX) that fans got to vote to become the title track. In the end, INCEPTION was announced as the title track for this comeback.
The entire Treasure series has really built the group a powerful and explosive reputation. That is what I remember and think of the most when I hear of ATEEZ. INCEPTION, to me, felt like it stepped back from this reputation. It felt underwhelming and relatively safe. While it did have a powerful and explosive profile, it neither rivaled or exceeded their past releases, which is disappointing. Take that instrumental break we get after the first chorus. While its placement dared to be a bit different, it felt very weak thanks to the use of unexciting hollow drum synths. That section would have been a great catalyst to amp up the rest of the song and increase the intensity by many magnitudes. But it just fizzled and didn’t really help boost the song. And hence the rest of the instrumental stayed relatively linear and didn’t get exciting as it could have been. The song did have some positive aspects, however. These mainly revolved the members. Its quite a vocally-centric song. The melodies have a pleasant ring to them and I find them to be potentially catchy (I need more listens to confirm this). The rappers did a really good job of increasing intensity in the song. And both aspects come together to form a powerful bridge, which was my pick of best moment. But at large, INCEPTION has all the elements to be their next big track, but it unfortunately underwhelms.
I am confident to say that there is a plot line in this music video, given that the fans got to see story line previews prior to selecting the title track. From what I got out of the lyrics and visuals, it looked liked the members are trying to get back into a dream they once had of their lover. But each time they do so, the setting gets more worse, as if foreshadowing how dangerous this lover is. The music video starts off in a brightly lit classroom (kind of an innocent dream). But later in the video, we see the classroom supposedly ‘lit’ on fire. It gotten so bad that Hongjoong entered a dream of nothing (and from the ending, it looks like he is stuck in that dream). I wonder how the next music video will link up. Everything looked quite good, though I must question whether Seonghwa’s abs reveal was necessary for this particular music video.
Performance-wise, INCEPTION delivered, as well. You can tell that they were extra powerful with their performance given the energy and effort you could see behind each of their moves. I liked how they split into two groups for the second chorus. I also surprisingly enjoyed the dance break they had during the instrumental sequence that I previously described weak. When I listen to the song by itself, it definitely comes off weak. But when you see the moves they put together for that part, it actually helped the sequence come off intense.
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10