This year's Road to Kingdom
was so much harsher than last year's Queendom
. Despite there being no live audience in the studio, the groups made use of the I-shaped stage to present large-scale, versatile and inventive performances. All seven teams did well and gained more recognition that was much deserved. While watching the program, I began to fall for Pentagon's on- and off-stage charms and talents. They may be known more for their quirky image and upbeat sounds in previous releases, but Universe: The Black Hall
will introduce you to a very different side of them that may make your jaw drop.
From a pool of over 800 tracks, Universe: The Black Hall gathers 11 catchy and addictive songs, most of which are written by the members! After Never, Energetic, "Shine" and other hit songs, Hui continues to prove that he's a hitmaker with the dark and strong title track Dr. BeBe (Track 1) co-produced by Nathan. Dreamy yet powerful, Dr. BeBe highlights the theme of "Love, Fall, Hurt and Crazy" to describe a toxic love that makes them go insane. The concept, beats, costumes, makeup and acting all add up to the perfect stage they've shown.
Hui's other composition "Shower of Rain" (Track 3) and Kino's Die For You (Track 4) are my picks aside from the title song. A mid-tempo hip-hop plug, "Shower of Rain" has a very addictive chorus, and the beginning of the song somehow reminds me of Block B's songs. Kino collaborated with his M.O.L.A. teammate Nathan for Die For You, which is inspired by Harley Quinn. As much as I love these two songs, I agree that Dr. BeBe makes a better lead single. You can't deny that "Shower of Rain" and Die For You are very high-quality side tracks though!
Produced by earattack, Worship U (Track 7) is a refreshing and lighthearted mid-tempo synthpop number with cute lyrics about adoring and protecting their loved ones. Pentagon sings another fan song for Universe with the uptempo pop number "Asteroid" (Track 2), which is mainly composed by Andrew Choi (SHINee's Why So Serious?) and Coach & Sendo (SHINee's Everybody). I love how this song allows most of them to sing in a low pitch, especially Shin Won who sounds so much better with a deep voice.
Pentagon works with the composers of SUMMER! again for the R&B ballad TALK (Track 5), for which Jin Ho and Woo Seok took part in writing the lyrics. Hui and Flow Blow create their signature dreamy vibe and sounds again in the EDM dance number The Black Hall (Track 6). Zoom Up (Track 8) offers a mysterious feeling with guitar riffs that keep repeating from time to time.
The album wraps up with "Camellia" (Track 9) and Someday (Track 10). Co-produced by Yuto, the modern rock ballad "Camellia" expresses their gratitude to Universe over the past three years. The main vocal line of Jin Ho and Hui show off their singing talents in "Someday," which is perhaps the best present for fans during Jin Ho's enlistment.
The Korean version of their Japanese single Happiness (Track 11) is also featured in this album. Kino worked as the main composer of this upbeat, refreshing song with new jack swing beats. Following the legendary "Spring Snow," Kino has done it again with Happiness!
Universe: The Black Hall represents another milestone for Pentagon, as they pull off a more mature, sultry and dark ambience and style that is totally different from their past releases. Can't wait for their next album!