You’ve got to give it to N-Sonic. After over four years on the scene without even a wikipedia page to show for it, they keep plugging along. It’s rare for a group of their stature to surprise me, but with Excalibur, they managed to do just that.
The song jolts from its opening moment, where a pounding drum beat gives the track instant life. This is not the preprogrammed, electronic percussion we’re used to from kpop. It’s a full-on, live-band feel, complete with distorted guitars and synth to give the track an immediate, almost punky glam-rock vibe. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other kpop single that’s utilized this kind of drum line. It’s so prominent that it really takes over the entire song. In fact, the production as a whole is incredibly effective. I love the wordless vocal refrain after each chorus. The mixing gives it a rich, almost tribal feel that stands as the song’s second unique (and awesome) element.
What holds Excalibur back from being a total revelation is the song itself. There’s nothing wrong with it, but stripped of the excellent production elements, there’s nothing particularly memorable either. I like how the chorus seems inverted, starting high and gradually dropping, but it doesn’t quite pack the wallop that the instrumental sets us up for. The verses are similarly forgettable, simply following an expected path rather than surprising. But like I said, those drums are so damn good that they basically make up for any of the song’s shortcomings.