Despite being active for over three years now, A.C.E has yet to breakout. I am certain that the group has built up a reputation that would surely intimidate other Korean acts based on the intensity of their music and the hardcore performances they pair with that music. Yet for some reason, they continue to be flying under the radar. It just leaves me perplexed and confused, given that I (and their fans) know that there is quality right here. Hopefully, that all changes with Goblin (Favorite Boys), which was dropped yesterday. It forms part of their fourth mini-album, HJZM: The Butterfly Phantasy, as the title track. It also features alongside the pre-release single, Stand By You, released back in July this year.
I really do hope that A.C.E has a breakthrough with this comeback. It is awesome! Goblin combines rock and hip-hop together to form a very intense atmosphere that is both captivating and thrilling to listen to. The rap-centric verses open up with a lot of sound effects embedded in the instrumental. The great thing about Goblin is that it doesn’t overdo it, and hence the amount of sound effects we have coming into the song is ideal. Enough to be a wow factor, but not so much to be ‘noisy’. Aside from the instrumentation, the rapping itself is definitely a highlight of this song. The rappers were extremely dynamic and impactful with their delivery. The pre-chorus is more vocal-centric and showcases the member’s vocals abilities. I really like the instrumental during this part, as it makes the song punchier and more epic. To me, the best part of the song is what bridge the pre-chorus/verse with the chorus. That line by Byeongkwan strikes at the right moment and launches us into a satisfying chorus. As for the chorus, the song amps it up but in a relatively refined manner (compared to their more robust and intense drops based on their earlier EDM releases). It is more melodic, as a result, but also thanks to the background crowd-like vocals that form part of the instrumentation. The members then follow up with a post-chorus ‘I’m a goblin‘ hook that prolongs the momentum and energy of the chorus which brings out that satisfaction. We get more vocals in the bridge and a subtle brewing background, before being thrown back into the chorus to close up the song. Everything works extremely well together in this song and this will, no doubt, make Goblin one of the best tracks of the year!
Another music video where the visual game is so strong! It was an expectation coming into this comeback, based on the aesthetic and stunning teaser images that the group had released for this comeback. I am not sure how Korean viewers and fans are reacting to the use of traditional outfits that the members were wearing. But I really liked the mixed between traditional and edgy in those outfits, completely skipping over the modern influence. For the other outfits we see them wear in the video, they seem be a mix of modern and edgy, compensating for that missing influence. I also really like the sets. The flashing lights seems a bit much as a viewer, but it seems like a logical style choice to reflect the intensity of the music video.
For the performance, I liked the aggressive nature of the chorus. It matches the song. And the same can be said about the rest of the performance. However, I felt that the members held back for their first performance, as they looked a tad stiff. I wished this wasn’t the case, as them letting loose and adding additional energy to their moves would have made this performance even better. But I would understand if they did so due to the constraints of performing live. I also felt the amount of dancers they had at the start seemed a bit much.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.8/10