Yesterday, I focused on the female rookie groups that debuted this year. Today, the focus will shift to male groups. And there is a fair bit to cover in this space. First up is EPEX, the latest male group to debut under C9 Entertainment, which is also the home of CIX. They are made up of 8 members in total, including Wish, Keum, MU, A-Min, Baekseung, Ayden, Yewang and Jeff. ‘EPEX’ stands for eight apexes, with each member representing an apex. They debuted more ‘recently’ at the start of June with their single Lock Down and the mini-album, BIPOLAR Pt.1 : 불안의 서 (BIPOLAR Pt.1: Prelude of Anxiety).
To me, I find that EPEX’s Lock Down gives me P1Harmony’s Scared vibes. However, the more recent release (i.e. Lock Down) is plainer and doesn’t really have that memorable factor that Scared had via its instrumentation. This doesn’t mean it is a bad song. EPEX’s debut single still manages to hit the mark as a hip-hop dance track, heavy with its sound that helps deliver an edgy sound. This also makes way for the showcase of rapping abilities, which (based on this release) appears to be EPEX’s greatest asset (I think over half of the members were rappers in this song). I just really like how the rappers of the group are continuously coming at you with their delivery, particularly in the first verse. Definitely a great first impression to make. Furthermore, the energy they channel is relentless. One of the rappers (Baeksung I think is his name – sorry if I got it wrong) also brought a wow factor to the song with his fast rapping. It was brief, but it is an attraction in this song. While it isn’t the first time we have heard such delivery before, it is also amazing and literally breathtaking to hear someone rap so quickly. While the rappers were showcased, the vocalists of the group also did a good job. As Lock Down opted for hip-hop dance influences, they really didn’t have much opportunity to show their abilities. However, with the parts they did have, they made really good use of their parts. Props to the members who partook in the bridge of the song. Just that part alone tells me that there is some unexplored talents in this group that I hope they bring forward in future releases. I also liked how the bridge slowed down the song, and brought in classical and music-box-like instrumentation. It was bit of a change, but it made the final chorus that bit more impactful. Talking about the chorus, it is a very forgettable sequence and wished it was more dynamic. Their shouty style was monotonous and just didn’t appeal to me. Maybe a chorus hook with a powerful melody could have done the job. For me, the best hook in the song ended up being the whispering of ‘Everybody Lock Down‘. Effective and got my attention. But as a whole, Lock Down is a good first step for EPEX.
I am not entirely sure what is going on in the video. Based on the lyrics, the song is all about the bad side of the social media. I guess they liken social media to locking down (as we have been doing since last year due to the pandemic). The isolation caused by social media being a prime example of this. Based on this interpretation, I figure the members are going to the extreme to get back control of their lives. They trade out the ‘million dollar hoodie and padding’ for bombs to make their statement against the evils of social media. Not sure if my interpretation is right, though that is what I have managed to make sense of the video and lyrics. Aside from the ‘story’, I liked the moodiness of the video and the use of the abandoned buildings to heighten that edgy feel. In addition to that, I think their main choreography set (i.e. the one in the thumbnail for their YouTube video) was nicely designed and fitted in with the rest of the industrial look of the video.
I really like how the choreography for this comeback was continuous and never really stopped. It really fitted in with the song’s aggressive nature. Even during the slower moments of the song, the members continued moving. I particularly enjoyed the bridge of the performance, with the members following and pausing in various positions to show pain, before regrouping to do that turn when the music box-like sequence and ending up in that kneeling position before the final sequence.
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10