Sahon – Blood Shall Be Paid


South Korea is the home of K-pop (which admittedly I have grown to like), but if you search enough, you can find heavy metal. A few years ago, I searched the Korean underground for metal, and found a few bands that I enjoyed. However, one band stood out the most – Sahon! Sahon is, without a doubt, my favorite metal band from South Korea! I really enjoyed the unbridled intensity of their fourth and fifth albums. And now, after 6 years, Sahon has released their sixth full-length album, “Blood Shall Be Paid”!

Artist: Sahon

Album: Blood Shall Be Paid

Label: Brutal Records

Release Date: 8 March, 2024

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Originally written for Dovendyr – Heavy Metal Historian

This is easily one of my most anticipated albums of 2024, especially considering how much I like Sahon. I found out that a new album was on the way in June 2023 via Sahon’s Instagram. Bassist Lee Yong-ho announced that the album had 9 new songs. Additionally, more information will be coming soon. That additional information came via Instagram in October 2023. Sahon announced that they had signed with Brutal Records, who have been proactive in promoting Sahon’s upcoming release. So, with eager anticipation, I waited for Sahon’s new album.

The artwork for “Blood Shall Be Paid” maintains a sense of simplicity, with a grayscale image of two cloaked figures looming over another fallen figure. Initially, I was on the fence about the cover art, but it has grown on me over time. The artwork conveys a sense of desolation, especially with the barren wasteland in the background. The lack of color, in my opinion, helps the album become a bit more distinguishable from other releases this year. It may not be the most visually compelling cover of the year, but it does a lot with just a few shades of grey.

The album’s audial assault begins with the title track. I really like the use of the ominous open notes and the siren at the beginning of the track. And then with a bang, the opening riff begins! “Blood Shall Be Paid” (the track) contains some killer riffs. But, I think my favorite is the riff in between the verses. That riff is so fun and has a touch of groove to it, sounding like something from Obituary or Exhorder! Combine that with Lee Yong Ho’s vocals, which sound deeper compared to previous Sahon albums, and you get an incredible opening track!

Following this comes “Burst Out” and “F. Oxy”. “Burst Out” is a fast-paced, unrelenting track, while “F. Oxy” is a slower, more mid-tempo track. In both songs, the drums are more pounding than the opening track, thanks to drummer Kim Kyoung Hong. However, my favorite part of these tracks has to be Lee Chang Myeong’s guitar solos. Both of them are spectacular, but I like the solo from “Burst Out” more because of that closing dive bomb. 

“Liberty” picks the pace up with more excellent, intense riffs! The riff in the verse sounds like it’s right out of Exhorder, and the riff following the solo is intricate. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album, because of its unyielding speed. “Obscene” slows a little, but still maintains the same intensity from the previous track. It leans more into death/thrash, with pounding drums and a more chugging guitar sound. The bass on these two songs is a bit more audible too, which makes them stand out a bit more.

“Professional” is a more mid-tempo track and honestly my least favorite of the album. It’s got a more punchy opening and sound, like “Get Back Again” from “10 Years in the Battlefield”. It’s far from being a bad track, but I just find myself listening to the other tracks more often. The next song, “The End”, is luckily not the final song, but it does pick up the pace significantly. Lee Chang Myeong provides another fantastic solo, and Kim Kyoung Hong doesn’t let up in the slightest. On top of that, I can hear Lee Yong Ho singing in English for a few lines, which I think is pretty cool!

“Total Annihilation” maintains a similar pace, with a blistering fast main riff and another killer solo! Sahon released this track as a single before the full album. Initially, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this track, but since its initial release, I’ve come to like it. Hearing it alongside the other songs on the album made it more enjoyable. “Blood Shall Be Paid” closes on a high note with “You are the Next”. This is one of the best tracks on the album. Between the intricate thrash opening riff and the slower, more groove metal riff, there is so much to enjoy with this track.

This album was absolutely worth the wait! It’s unyielding in its ferocity, with plenty of great riffs and energy. It combines a lot of elements from previous Sahon releases into one album while building off of them. But most of all, this album is fun! It’s enjoyable from start to finish and the Sahon trio give it their all. What a way to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band! Biased as I am, “Blood Shall Be Paid” is easily one of my favorite albums of 2024! Congrats to Sahon on an incredible sixth album and 25 years of astounding metal!

(I remember seeing a post about the album’s release mentioning that a tour – both domestic and international – was in the works. If Sahon can tour America, I hope that they can add a stop in Baltimore, MD! I would love to see Sahon perform live someday!)

(One final note: I had hoped to provide a Korean copy of this review in addition to the original English copy. However, at this time, I am not proficient enough in Korean to write all this out, and using a translator app felt like I was almost cheating. If I’m going to write this review in Korean, I want to put in the effort to write it properly. And with my current proficiency, that would’ve taken longer than I’d like. I have been teaching myself Korean on and off for about 6 years now, and still have a lot to learn. Perhaps when I am more proficient in the language, I will revisit this review and write in Korean properly.) 

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