Being billed as Apink’s younger brothers, I’ve taken a keen interest in Victon since their debut back in late 2016. Apink have always been one of my absolute favourite girl groups, and unfortunately, Victon haven’t been able to (atleast in my eyes) hit those high expectations set by their seniors. In fact, I didn’t really take much interest in them until last years infamous Produce X 101, where I was completely charmed by leader Seungwoo’s incredible charisma and skill. And because of X1’s untimely end, he’s just back in time for Howling (하울링), which might just be the groups strongest track yet.
Looking at Howling from a distance, you’ll find that it doesn’t do much to stand apart from the ground. In fact, it echoes much of what most boy groups have been pursuing recently, adhering completely to the predisposed moody template. But while most of those tracks rely on murky delivery and weakly formed hooks, Howling contains the strongest hook within Victon’s arsenal. It pulses with the kind of energy that so many angsty boy group tracks of the second generation revelled in. The swirling melody and production heavily remind me of the kind of A grade material groups like VIXX and Beast were releasing on the daily circa 2011 – 2014. Though the trap hi-hats remain ever-present throughout this hook, it’s still incredibly refreshing to hear such a soaring melodic refrain in modern day boy group kpop. Even better is that Victon attack this song with incredible energy, imbuing almost every second with driving pathos.
The verses on the other hand, are less successful. They are fine, but feel more like we’re treading past ground. In fact, you could probably play mix and match with the verses of The BOYZ’s Reveal and Pentagon’s Dr.BeBe and fit they would still work perfectly. Victon imbue theses segments with the kind of personality driven delivery that characterises their stronger work, which helps elevate theses segments against its the two aforementioned tracks. And I know this might just be my bias for Seungwoo talking, but I actually think this is the strongest example of moody trap boy group fare that we’ve seen all year. And one that I can see having longevity, unlike some of the other tracks. I still feel like Victon are hiding their true showstopper somewhere, but Howling is a strong step in the right direction.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10