By: Penny Rae Hawkins
Armed with an unwavering rock n’ roll spirit and eyes set to kill, Rolling Quartz clears the language barrier to kick some serious ass.
After debuting in 2020 with “Blaze,” Diadem have kept their eye on the five-piece Korean rock band for more kick ass tracks. On February 8, these dedicated fans received just that with the band’s first extended play Fighting. The album features six tracks, including full versions of previously released demos “Holler” and “Higher,” and brand-new tracks “Azalea,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Paradise,” “Delight” and title track “Good Night.”
Unfortunately, Fighting begins with its weakest tracks. The mixing for the long-awaited studio version of “Holler” is a tad underwhelming, not helped by the guitars being pushed so far to the back of the mix they’re nearly inaudible. It’s saved by angelic harmonies and fist-pumping conviction from the band’s rhythm section, particularly bassist Arem, but is overall underwhelming. Fighting’s opening track “Delight” misses the mark by the skin of its teeth, a strong track that misses a golden opportunity for a face-ripping guitar solo that Iree is beyond capable of. The If you ask me, somebody should ship Travis Barker out to Seoul to work with these talented young women. Some minor tweaks and more consistent production would shoot Rolling Quartz to the level they’re clearly ready to reach.
The strongest songs on Fighting live at the end of the album. Title track “Good Night” is a dark metal track where Jayoung sings from the perspective of a sadistic narcissist who has you, the listener, exactly where she wants you. With a deep voice and well-executed rap that doesn’t hold back, the vocalist is more than capable of selling this dark concept. Aided by hard-hitting drums from Yeongeun and stealth support from Hyunjung, this is easily the standout track on Fighting. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Paradise” has much lighter lyrics without losing its edge, delivering precisely what it promises.
“Azalea” soars into an entirely new emotional realm that can only be described as heartbreaking. The song’s repeated line “even if I die, no tears fall,” alongside delicate and intelligent guitar picking from Hyunjung and show-stealing solo from Iree, strike you in the heart with its intensity and melodrama. There’s really no flowery language or sweeping metaphor that could accurately describe “Higher.” It just rips, plain and simple. Its mosh pit-ready energy and unwavering eye towards victory makes the song one of the album’s points, just an unbridled display of pure, uncut talent.
Regardless of your fluency in Korean, this is a solid debut album for any rock radio playlist. While not a perfect record, Fighting spotlights a band bursting at the seams with potential.