With yet another eye-catching concept, the seven-member K-pop group KINGDOM came back with “승천 (Ascension)” and the mini-album History Of Kingdom: PartIV. Dann on March 31. After a breathtaking teaser rollout, the boy group returned with another installment of their story.
A Musical Cross-Over
The album’s lead single, “승천 (Ascension),” is a skillful blend of traditional Korean musical sensibilities with a fresh, contemporary hip-hop sound. Produced by ROHAN & DDANK of AllRN:D–the team behind KINGDOM’s discography since its debut–the track would sound right at home within a cinematic historical K-drama. “승천 (Ascension)” is paired with lyrics that utilize pure Korean words and phrases and with the traditional music style, strengthening the album’s elements of historical Korea. KINGDOM’s standout vocals and powerful rap verses are foregrounded with an ethereal and dramatic composition without sounding cluttered.
“승천 (Ascension)” is also right at home within KINGDOM’s discography. Its composition builds on the group’s rich lore, which takes inspiration from several historical kingdoms. The debut track “EXCALIBUR” pairs KINGDOM’s edgy EDM-inspired sound with the use of an organ and piano. The ancient Chinese aesthetic in the music video for “Karma” is complemented by the use of classic Chinese instruments throughout the track. And finally, “Black Crown” is grand and cinematic, bringing back some of the organs from “EXCALIBUR” alongside heavier percussion.
Ascension and the Story of Dann
The latest installment, History Of Kingdom: PartIV. Dann is the emotional journey of King Dann and the Kingdom of Change. After capturing his family, rebellious forces in the kingdom make Dann their next target.
The music video for “승천 (Ascension)” doesn’t fall behind the lore while delivering the story and beautiful visuals. We see the member fighting beside Dann to protect his Kingdom from invasion. He shows up many times wearing royalty attire and leading them all, as he is also the official leader of the KINGDOM. The story ends with Dann watching the palace burn while fighting, and he promises, “I will return as I ascend.” And, in true KINGDOM fashion, the next member to tell his story, Louis, is briefly shown in the end.
There’s a nice balance and contrast between scenes, wherein some of the members are wearing dark noble and military-like uniforms. In contrast, they sport delicate and colorful hanbok in others, some of them twitch elements of their Kingdoms.
7 Kings & 7 Kingdoms
What sets KINGDOM apart is their commitment to a concept that stays present throughout each release. Each member of the group represents seven kingdoms and their respective kings: Dann is the Kingdom of Change; Arthur, the Kingdom of Rain; Mujin, the Kingdom of Cherry Blossoms; Louis, the Kingdom of Beauty; Ivan, the Kingdom of Snow; Jahan, the Kingdom of Sun, and Chiwoo, the Kingdom of Cloud.
Each album recounts the history of each member. According to the group, KINGDOM’s first release, History Of Kingdom: PartⅠ. Arthur begins with the seven kings, lost and trying to find themselves. History Of Kingdom: PartⅡ. Chiwoo recounts the tale of the Chiwoo and the Kingdom of Cloud, represented by a traditional Chinese dragon and his knights. In “Black Crown,” the lead track of History Of Kingdom: PartⅢ. Ivan, listeners were taken to the Kingdom of Snow and King Ivan’s descent into evil.
KINGDOM drew the attention of many by having detailed visuals every comeback to go with their concepts. While still being cohesive, each album and music video represents each kingdom in a very distinct way. “Karma” comes in strong with Chinese folklore and imagery, and “EXCALIBUR” stays true to its name, drawing inspiration from the legend of King Arthur while giving us space fantasy visuals and still being a solid initial point for the story of all Seven Kingdoms. “Black Crown” brings the Kingdom of Snow to life but doesn’t fall back on the portrayal of Ivan’s inner conflict. Finally, “승천 (Ascension)” doesn’t disappoint with its historical and traditional Korean culture elements.
Want more music? Read about XG’s debut with “Tippy Toes” here.