Song Review: ATEEZ – Halazia

ATEEZ - HalaziaWith 2020’s Answer, ATEEZ established a precedent for releasing excellent material under the guise of an “epilogue” (or in today’s case, a “spin-off”). This December has been severely lacking in notable K-pop comebacks, so I’m excited to have a big-name track like this pushing us into the new year. With that said, my passion for ATEEZ’s music has drastically waned over the past two years. Beyond a stellar b-side or two, I’ve found myself a little exhausted with their overall sound.

For much of Halazia, I’m convinced this is the song to turn things around. It’s stuffed with many of the musical hallmarks I adored in their 2018-19 material. It’s dark and bombastic without resorting to shouted chants and posturing. There are proper builds and unique flourishes throughout, leading to a juggernaut finale that leaves me wanting more. However — and sadly, this is a pretty big “however” – the song’s chorus is all kinds of frustrating. It feels like ATEEZ have given us a three-and-a-half minute tease. An “Atease,” if you will. I’m not sure the payoff is there when it needs to be.

Even ATEEZ’s strongest music puts pre-chorus front and center, often exhausting itself before pulling back to deliver a sparse hook. Halazia is a definitive example of this structure, bringing the theatrics for its anthemic pre-chorus. The vocals hit with full power. There are even church organs. Then, we’re yanked into a dull (and oddly muted) hook before the song ramps up again for a rapid-pace refrain. I love these big, ballsy moments. But, I wish they had been arranged in a way that took better advantage of their momentum. It’s not that I want the song to be more straightforward. Weird is good in ATEEZ’s musical world. It just feels like there’s some important centerpieces missing here.

This disconnect prevents Halazia from being an instant standout for me, but I still think it’s the group’s strongest title track in a quite awhile. I could see it growing far more easily than the chant-heavy Guerrilla and I appreciate its spotlight on vocals. Plus, the accompanying single album delivers an interesting remix of the always-incredible Take Me Home. So all in all, this is a spin-off worth making.

Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

Grade: B


23 thoughts on “Song Review: ATEEZ – Halazia

  1. first

    like you, i honestly dont know how to feel about the song. there are some parts of it that i love (like the ending of the chorus and the final breakdown) and others that arent as great (the hala hala halazia part). still, i’ll take what i like

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At first I was not too sure of the chorus but I was totally sold by the end of the song. Gave me the goosebumps that only ATEEZ songs can give, similar to the likes of Answer. I wonder how it will age though, but I’m loving it right now. It is easily one of the most dynamically interesting Kpop songs I’ve heard this year which is a big plus point for me.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I perosonaly thought it was a lot like Enhypen’s Future Perfect mixed with Wayv’s Moonwalk. I like to think of the hala hala halazia part as kind of like the gaja part in wonderland where its just a build up to the chorus – so i really like this. Easy 8.5 for me too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I also have mixed feelings about this one. I’m not sure that I like most of the song, but while listening for the first time I could feel myself just like. Latching on. So I’m going to listen to this A Lot, I think, and the hala hala halazia part is going to be stuck in my head forever.


  5. I like it, especially the ending! You can tell the song is combination of their melodies from treasure era, their bravado and slight sentimentality from fever era, along with this new…dubstep? I’m not against it, just interested to see how they’ll utilize it in future comebacks.
    Between the screamo and the dubstep, it seems we can look forward to a restrained form of experimentation from them this era. “Restrained” is very relative when it comes to ATEEZ, but I still expect them to sound like ATEEZ, even if Leez is leaving.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I really like it, they don’t follow the expectations and create suspense with the song. As a psychology student we study a lot how to use neuroscience to manipulate, hear me out that aint bad. What I feel sometimes is Ateez songs they manipulate our expectations and delivery something else in some parts but pleasent, so even tho wasn’t what we were waiting for still good and they did that with the bell transition we were not expecting that but when it came was good and they build up in a different way and is satisfying, but in the second part they didn’t do that again but we were already expecting for that chorus and it was good to listen to it.
    Since english isn’t my first language will be extremelly limitated how I can explaim but I think they are super clever building those parts, they break rules but isn’t difficult to accept.

    Anyway, there is a lot of psychological science behind IT and marketting and honestly makes a lot of sense to use it in songs too. Cause we are musical beings and is super important to feel pleasure with music. Reason why is important to respect personal taste always otherwise becomes torture instead. But I really like this song, is clever feels like something a third gen group could delivery, the vocals are really great is dramatic, feels like epic even if isn’t. They know what they are doing and Yosang deep voice and hj rap… are awesome.

    Liked by 9 people

  7. I used to be obsessed with ATEEZ’s music before they finished the pirate series they had going on for a few years. Kingdom Legendary War didn’t help much either because of my personal rivalry of the groups. I only started listening to them again when they released ‘Guerilla’ because that chorus completely shocked me.

    I really like this song and I think it’s fine but I feel like it could have been much better. I like the pull back before the chorus. The “hala hala hala hala halazia’ part is great. It continues with that epic, sort of grand sound but I’m not too sold on the chorus. Jongho’s part sounds slightly too monotone for me and I also wish it was longer. It switches to Hongjoong’s rap too quickly. I also don’t like the final part of this song as it sounds out of place. The blaring alarm sound doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know why I’m being so nit-picky with this song…

    It’s a great song. It’s an epic song that sounds like a finale to the story that they’ve created until now. I don’t know if it is the finale or not but it does sound like it.

    Overall, it’s a great song that I think could have been elevated to be much better.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I like it. Although that chorus hasn’t grown on me yet, I can see it worming itself into my head as the time goes by. In addition, the song’s production is great.
    Maybe an 8.25 for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I liked this one – the prechorus was amazing and so was Yeosang’s part. Honestly I feel the song will get better in the lives with their more “raw” voices – I feel Jongho is the only one who escapes most of the effects of digital production and mixing. Seonghwa, Yunho and Yeosang get seriously affected by it as their voices are more on the deeper zone and get oddly suppressed sometime. So it is only in the live performances do I get the full effect.

    I’m not so sure about the way things pull back before the chorus, but I did like Jongho’s part after that. The raps were great! I’m sure this one will grow on me like Guerrilla too!

    I honestly liked Guerrilla’s chant heavy nature myself 😂 It works so much better when they sing live – any off-pitchness, shouting etc just make it sound even more intense and amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ok wow. I thought Guerrilla was brilliant, a heady, bombastic, self-assured anthem. This seems like – and I don’t mean this negatively at all – the comedown when you’re no longer so sure of your mission, and you cry out in bewilderment. So this is a win for me. Also, the choreography so perfectly expresses the concept. I love dance even though I know so little about it.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Mostly I’m leaving this comment because I just want to tell you, Nick, that I always come here immediately when ATEEZ has a comeback because I think your reviews are always spot on. You say exactly what I think about the songs but can’t put into words yet (or as well).

    Second, I want to up-vote your frustration with this song–not because it’s a bad song but because it’s a good one that was *so close* to being great. And I’m worried it wasn’t great for reasons that might bode ill for ATEEZ’s future (musically speaking, that is–popularity-wise, they seem to be doing just fine). It’s been upsetting me all day, and so I’m going to use this comment to do a little self-therapy to figure out why. Bear with me, or not, as you choose:

    I agree with you that ATEEZ (really, EDEN) was such a welcome shock to K-pop in 2018-2019 (into early 2020 really with “Answer”–one of my favorite pop anthems of all time). EDEN has always been an absolute genius at making deep cuts in the global pop/rock canon–British and West Coast punk, speed metal, ska, 80s electronica and Nu Wave (he loves the 80s)–and mixing those into the K-pop canon in a way that sounds fresh but isn’t so far outside the norm that it damages ATEEZ’s marketability. Their early global appeal is good evidence, I think, of how all these Easter Eggs resonated with audiences.

    And then we got the FEVER series, which I also agree with you was a bit meh compared to TREASURE. I think what we were seeing with FEVER, honestly, was the downside of KQ being an independent company that does most all its production in-house. As they tried to leverage the pandemic to catapult ATEEZ ahead of other 4th-gen bands and be everywhere all at once–global tours, Kingdom, Imitation, MC-ing, drama OSTs, etc.–that put a LOT of pressure on Eden-ary. Where the Big 3 have a huge stable of songwriters and sub-contractors to draw on, KQ doesn’t. The irony there is that the fresh sound that an indy team like Eden-ary can give you to launch you ahead of the Big 3 needs precisely the kind of incubation time/space that competing with the Big 3 doesn’t allow you. And in FEVER we predictably started to see the consequences of that pressure–some drift back toward K-pop norms, some self-quotation.

    I was hoping with you that The World series would be different–a return to EDEN, if you will. And even though we sadly got “Guerrilla” as the title track for Ep. 1 (a turnt-up but underwhelming mash-up of NCT and Block B), that comeback also gave us “Cyberpunk,” which got me really excited. “Cyberpunk” is exactly the kind of song that EDEN can write that no one else can; it’s so, so very good. So, I was really looking forward to “HALAZIA,” hoping it was going to continue on the “Cyberpunk” track. Nope. Or, I should say, Nope? It does have all those promising elements that you listed in your review; it does have nice build-up; it’s got that big, beautiful post-chorus. But the anti-chorus sucks the momentum out of the song and fails to pull it together, leaving it emotionally flat for me–even though the lyrics themselves are moving. They’re about doing the hard work of bringing light and color back to the world even if you know that you’re not going to be the ones to profit from it. And that’s true for ATEEZ: they’re never going to be BTS; those days are over. But they can still clear space for the 5th generation to do their own thing, free from the constraints–musically and otherwise–that hampered previous K-pop generations. Just Mingi’s brave mental-health hiatus alone shows how much things have changed.

    But ATEEZ can’t bring the revolution if they exhaust themselves musically, and “HALAZIA” makes me worried that’s what’s happening. The chorus even sounds tired, despite all the theatrics around it. And the song is so stuffed with self-quotes (“Hala Hala,” “Precious,” “Deja Vu,” even “Cyberpunk”), presumably in service of ATEEZ’s storyline, that it sags under the weight of it all, close to collapsing.

    In spite of all these problems, “HALAZIA” is still a good song: that’s how insanely talented Eden-ary are; even when they’re worn out, they still do good work. I just hope they get the time and space they need to get some fresh air, take a deep breath, and remember why they got into this business in the first place–to change The World.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with the last paragraph.

      It isn’t a bad song. It just sounds like they are stuck in a rut, literally and metphorically. The song hits the same points and the same notes are prior songs.

      I think they need to take off a month and go listen to lots of other stuff.

      And then remove their usual starting files from easy access and try to rebuild their set of go to sounds from scratch, which will always come out fresher and newer. Basically, get a new computer, new year, new start.


  12. It’s not hitting for me. It sounds like a mess. But then I thought that about Guerilla and it really ended up growing on me. So I dunno.


  13. I feel like maybe Im too biased or maybe Ateez makes music specifically for my tastes but I LOVED Guerrilla and I just so happen to love Halazia too. When I first heard the song, the muted pre chorus had me waiting on edge for the actual drop and when the chorus actually came thru, Jonghos voice did not disappoint. I rarely think Ateez ever disappoints and at least to me, this song didnt either.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I thought the Guerrilla comeback was amazing, but Halazia’s vocals, choreo, and then concept Is just so electrifying! The chorus seriously has me coming back for more. Solid 9, only because I’m not someone who is very fond of the dubstep near the end.

    Liked by 2 people

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