SEOUL—The boys of K-pop powerhouse Enhypen open their latest mini album, “Dark Blood,” with the ominous and rousing “Fate,” a dark and brooding introduction to their baroque world of the undead. “The fate that I devoted my life to, how could I forget?” the septet questions, as the track sets the tone for the whole album, an otherworldly invitation from the seven boys.
As the haunting riffs chase you into oblivion, “Fate” crescendoes with Enhypen embracing their cursed immortal destinies, one including you, dear listener. The dramatic bass wraps around your throat, much like the clutches of a vampire, thumping, thriving, catching up to you as if pulling you into the shadows of the seven members.
This visceral type of storytelling has always been the group’s musical strength. A signature style they’ve mastered since their debut, where they open passageways of fantastical, tangible imagery through their music. The boys of Enhypen have always brought dimension to their work, something more than just beats and melodies, to conjure synesthetic spaces.
They’ve pushed through the battlefield, arrived victoriously after a world tour, and are now claiming their rightful spots as storytellers in the K-pop scene.
For their latest, the septet is all too immersed in a dark carnival of desire, one they’ve been privy to since 2020. Blood and fangs aside, Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo and Ni-ki made their grand return this year to the gothic world of vampires since their compelling debut with “Given-Taken” in 2020.
Red strings of fate
On May 22, the immortal princes released “Dark Blood,” a six-track mini album that takes you into their newborn “Blood” series, in which they tangle around with the red strings of fate, and explore bonds bound by something more than blood.
In an exclusive interview with Inquirer Super, leader Jungwon details how the boys merged different mediums for the concept. “‘Dark Blood’ is an album that unravels a captivating fantasy-like tale, so we prioritized the storytelling aspect,” he tells Super.
“The connection with the webtoon ‘Dark Moon: The Blood Altar,’ which incorporates characters inspired by us, allowed us to present something new and enriched the overall narrative of this album. Although it took us a bit of time to fully immerse ourselves in this new attempt, we thoroughly enjoyed the process and managed to bring it all together in the end,” Jungwon says.
Since their debut, Enhypen has always played around with the concept of vampires. The boys have inspired the narrative of the webtoon “Dark Moon: The Blood Altar,” an epic vampire fantasy of romance and destiny. For their latest offering, the septet combines the two mediums, blending fantastical fiction and musical prowess for “Dark Blood.”
“Bite Me” is easily Enhypen at its best, a track that captures their standout vocal tone. The song is a catchy yet minimalist interpretation of vampiredom, bleeding sensuality and desire in every word. “Bite Me” is all percussive rhythm and booming bass, helping the band’s vocals shine with a melodic chorus. It’s addicting and mystical, the perfect way to reintroduce their rich lore to new listeners.
To devour or be devoured
Meanwhile, “Sacrifice (Eat Me Up)” comes in waves, lingering in the psyche, with daunting reverb drowning you in the boys’ twisted calls for help. The septet’s regretful vocals wrap you in tendrils, ready to devour or be devoured.
In “Chaconne,” they take inspiration from the 17th century “dance of death,” sensually flirting with mortality and fate. It’s a slow-burning duet between the listener and each of the seven Enhypen members, as they melt away every single one of your inhibitions. It’s a forbidden dalliance, a risk they’re willing you to take, as Enhypen takes your hand, their voices coy, lilting, asking you to “dance for me forever.”
For their pop R&B cut “Bills,” the seven are surprisingly frank and sweet, using the pragmatic metaphor of piling bills to make sense of their devotion. It’s an easy listen, banking on the boys’ ability to evoke emotions through their voices.
Meanwhile, “Karma” is the track made for concert halls, domes and arenas, ones Enhypen now fill to the brim with their soldout shows. The funky rock track encompasses the septet’s youthful energy, a welcome contrast to the previous introspective mood. It’s the perfect end to the six-track run of “Dark Blood,” foreshadowing what’s yet to come for the septet.
Since its release, the album has taken Enhypen to new career highs. “Dark Blood” placed at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, marking their first top 5 placement. It sold over 1.3 million copies in its first week of release. “Bite Me” also marked the band’s biggest debut on the Spotify charts, with over 1.8 million streams on its first day. The group also earned their biggest Spotify streaming day on May 22, with over 9 million streams.
The boys bring a new level of experience to “Dark Blood,” coming off the success of their “Manifesto” world tour. They’re sophisticated, with confidence and charisma in their veins. Onstage, they’re glittering and untouchable just like the immortal.
Searching for purpose
Yet, in “Dark Blood,” the boys of Enhypen are more human than undead. Beneath the yearning of the album is its fearless promise of eternity, as the seven capture the innate romanticism of vampires. It’s the boys overcoming the uncertainty of their own desires and anxieties, not just as artists, but as mere mortals. In this album, Enhypen’s vampirism is a surprisingly relatable portrait of the human condition. As they cling to what’s left of their humanity, they relent to searching for purpose, one which they find in their other half.
In this case, Enhypen finds Engenes, the name of the band’s fandom. “Dark Blood” then evolves into something more than just a brush of souls, but an intertwining of fates. It’s Enhypen and Engenes in this world. And it’s more than enough.
In an exclusive interview, Enyhpen answered Inquirer Super’s questions about the behind-the-scenes of “Dark Blood,” their evolving group dynamic and the things they learned about each other.
Aside from “Dark Moon,” do you have any other favorite films, books, webtoons or anime that really helped you embody “Dark Blood,” and this comeback’s fantasy feel?
Jungwon: I listened to “Vampire” by Dominic Fike a lot.
Heeseung: Nothing specific comes to mind, but I tried to explore a wide range of references in order to tap into my creative mindset for this album.
Jay: I referred to the webtoon “Noblesse.”
Jake: I also don’t have a particular reference to pinpoint, but I delved deep into the concept and contemplated how I could make it my own.
Sunghoon: I drew inspiration from the vibe of the movie “Twilight” to fully immerse myself in the fantasy feel of this album.
Sunoo: Webtoon “White Blood” and the movie “Twilight” helped me better embody the album’s concept.
Ni-ki: I also sought creative inspiration by watching “Twilight.”
The looks and styling for this comeback are really surreal and showcase a more unique side of Enhypen. You even shot gorgeous underwater photos. What was that experience like? Do you have any favorite styles or looks from the concept photos? What was your favorite and what was the hardest to shoot?
Jungwon: My favorite was the “Full” version. I liked how highlights were added into my hair to give me a fresh look. I personally found our underwater shoot for the “Half” version to be particularly difficult because I have a slight fear of water, but we were able to safely wrap the shoot with the help of safety instructors on site. (Author’s note: Enhypen’s “Full” version, above, showed off their charismatic charms with edgy prince-like black coats and metallic accessories, while the “Half” version, below, placed them in a sunken set, donning regal open-collared white shirts with long sleeves and black trousers, much like sailors of the romantic era.)
Heeseung: I liked the “Half” version best, because of its aesthetic charm. Shooting underwater wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but I’m very content with the results.
Jay: My favorite was the “Full” version. I think I really got into character and did a deep dive to fully embody the concept.
Jake: I personally liked the “Full” version most as well, because it’s a great representation of the album.
Sunghoon: In terms of styling, I liked the suits and coats we wore for the “Full” version. For the concept itself, my favorite was the “Half” version, because we were able to try something new and it’s been well received by Engenes.
Sunoo: My favorite was the “Half” version because it felt different from anything that we had done before. I don’t think I found a concept to be particularly difficult.
Ni-ki: I really liked the stage outfits we wore for our “Inkigayo” music show performance. We wore them for our “Full” version concept photos, and I think our fans really liked that particular outfit, so I was happy to wear it on stage. (Author’s note: Recently, the group was also named local brand Bench’s global ambassador. We’re excited to see more of Enhypen’s personal style soon!)
You shot your music video for “Bite Me” overseas in Poland a month ago. What was that experience like and do you have any memorable anecdotes from filming in an overseas location? Do you have any fun stories to share behind the scenes?
Sunoo: While shooting the choreography portion of the video, a strikingly large moon lit up the night sky. It was pretty late, but the bright moonlight helped us spot the cameras easily, making the shoot a breeze.
Jake: I remember that, too! It wasn’t just the beautiful nights, but the weather during the daytime was also fantastic.
Jungwon: Poland was by far one of the most unforgettable countries I’ve ever visited. From the amazing cuisine and breathtaking sights to the warm encounters with its people, every moment I spent there was truly priceless. I remember taking a quick stroll, and it almost felt like stepping into a movie scene.
Jay: Although we were only there for the music video shoot, it had such a relaxed and refreshing atmosphere that it felt like we were on vacation together. It was definitely a fun memory for all of us.
Ni-ki: I’d say the overall vibe during the music video shoot was pretty laid-back. We had an amazing time there, just strolling through the streets and taking in the beautiful scenery.
The members all have very distinct styles and personalities. How would you guys describe the evolution of your group dynamic and teamwork since your debut? What was it like collaborating with each other for “Dark Blood”? How do you make your ideas known during the creation of the album and choreography?
Jungwon: We all have our own ideas of what’s “cool,” and we fully embrace and respect each other’s unique styles. We put in a lot of time in practicing not only as a team but also individually on our own parts. At the same time, teamwork is always at the top of our list, so we ensure that we’re in sync, especially in parts that require perfect timing.
Heeseung: I’m amazed to witness the growth of each member as we develop our own distinct styles. This allows us to show our individuality within the same choreography and performances. I’m excited to see how we’ll further explore our artistic expressions and endless possibilities ahead.
Sunghoon: I actively contribute my ideas to our performances, no matter how small they may be. We all have a pretty good grasp of each other’s styles, which helps us bring out the best teamwork. It’s through this collaborative approach that we continue to improve and deliver our best on stage.
Sunoo: Being together 24/7 since our debut, teamwork has become second nature to us. We also worked on “Dark Blood” while respecting each other’s individuality, thus fostering an environment where we could freely share our ideas.
Is there anything new that you learned about each other during this comeback? How did you guys help each other while you prepared for “Dark Blood”?
Heeseung: There were many moments where I felt like we were all giving our best and providing mutual support to elevate the quality of the album. It was these genuine moments that, I believe, played a big role in making this album even more perfect.
Sunghoon: I’m especially grateful to Heeseung for stepping up as a studio director during the recording of our lead single “Bite Me.” His guidance and support were instrumental in the process, and we’re truly thankful for his help. (Author’s note: Member Heeseung is credited for their title track “Bite Me.” Behind-the-scenes footage showed a glimpse of Heeseung’s production skills, and we can’t wait to see how he does in the future!)
Sunoo: I could really sense our growth and advancement with each album, and it was a rewarding feeling to witness that growth within myself as well. It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve improved.
Ni-ki: Our first world tour marked a turning point for us as it brought about significant growth for all of us. I’m looking forward to the progress we’ll continue to make through the diverse experiences that lie ahead.
Jungwon: We relied heavily on one another while working on this album. With a shared goal in mind, we all dedicated a lot of effort to this album, and this synergy just fostered a natural camaraderie among us.
You’re making your mark not just as K-pop idols, but as storytellers, and “Dark Blood” seems to be a step toward that direction. What do you think makes Enhypen’s stories unique and loved by Engenes? What sets you apart in the K-pop industry? As such, what are your goals for this upcoming comeback?
Sunghoon: I believe that our performances and music play a big role in capturing people’s interest, and the underlying story behind the albums further draws them in. During the “Dark Blood” album promotion, I hope that we can entice more people into the world of Enhypen through our compelling stages and content.
Jake: I also think that our ability to fully immerse ourselves in our performances and bring our concept to life is what resonates with Engenes and sets us apart from others.
Ni-ki: As we continuously take on distinct concepts, I notice how Enhypen is making a lasting impression on people’s minds. I’m overjoyed to see our hard work pay off as we share the captivating charms of Enhypen with the public.
Heeseung: In our team’s narrative, there is also a message that we aim to convey. It is this very message that I believe captivates our fans and draws them toward Enhypen.
Sunoo: Enhypen is a team with a unique story and a strong bond among us members. I think these special qualities are what endear us to our fans. My goal for this comeback is to expand our reach and receive even more love from a wider audience.
Jay: I personally believe that distinctive qualities and uniqueness can serve as powerful assets. What truly distinguishes Enhypen most is the boundless ambition that all seven of us have. And I’m pretty confident that this ambition will persist.
Here’s how this article was laid out in the print version of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.