[Review] BLACK6IX’s “Swamp Of Despair” is a mess but at least it’s an ambitious one

Though they’ve yet to enjoy mainstream success, rookie group BLACK6IX have drawn on K-pop’s past to release a pair of solid singles. This refreshing adherence to a 2011/12 sound continues with the dramatically titled “Swamp Of Despair“. There’s no trendy tropical house or EDM to be found here. In its place is a flurry of symphonic touches and moody electric guitar.

These kind of over-the-top production elements are right up my alley, and almost guarantee that I’ll enjoy a song. However, I don’t think “Swamp Of Despair” has enough meat on its bones to compensate for some glaring production issues. Like its namesake, the song gets swallowed up in its aural ambition. All the right instrumental touches are there, but they exist in a mix that fails to capitalize on their innate excitement.

“Swamp Of Despair”’s commanding orchestral introduction sets us off on the right foot, but immediately clashes with the heavily filtered vocals (note to producers everywhere: Auto-Tune and orchestration do not mix). The instrumental has so much potential. I mean, who doesn’t love a dense blend of thundering drums, strings, and electric guitar? Yet, the mixing feels muddled, giving this immense sonic palette an oddly compressed feel. “Swamp Of Despair”’s driving chorus is fine, but like everything else it’s held back by dull mixing and unnecessary effects. Chalk it up to high ambition on a limited budget, I guess. I certainly appreciate the fact that BLACK6IX chose to swing for the fences rather than play it safe, but the execution is unfortunately lacking.

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