Apollo 18 are rightfully being touted as one of the new “must-see” acts in Korea’s underground rock scene. First coming across them in a Hongdae live house in early February, their powerful playing literally made my jaw drop and left me repeatedly muttering the phrase “holy fuck!” well after their deafening set had finished. Local music industry representatives seem to be having similar reactions (possibly minus the profanity, though). In addition to the positive Korean press they’ve been garnering, Apollo 18 were invited to appear at the inaugural Jisan Valley Rock Festival. They also won one of several Rookie Music Awards handed out by EBS (Education Broadcasting Station) and KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency), earning them a spot at the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival as well, making them the only band to perform at both of the competing summer concerts. Formed in June 2008, the Ilsan-based trio initially began working together five years ago. At the time, bassist Kim Dae-inn was crafting electro-pop and folk songs under the moniker Jelly Boy. Guitarist Choi Hyun-seok and drummer Lee Sang-yun were recruited as session players for the project, which is currently on hiatus. The three wanted to create a new band together, but had to wait until Choi and Lee completed their mandatory military service to do so. Live, Kim states that his Jelly Boy material took on more of a modern rock feel making Apollo 18’s awesome blend of post-rock and hardcore-infused rock a natural progression for the act. “In my heart there is loud music,” Choi explains. “In Dae-inn’s heart there is loud music too, so what we are creating as Apollo 18 is the best sound for us.” Before they began writing tracks, the three mapped out a detailed plan of attack for their first year-and-a-half as a band that included ideas and artwork for no less than three different albums along with unique T-shirt and sticker designs for each. “We’re crazy,” says Choi. “We did a lot of thinking early on. When we spoke with record companies we told them exactly what we wanted to do. They had the choice to take it or leave it.” Signing with Estella Records, the sister imprint of Seoul hardcore label GMC Records, Apollo 18 issued an eponymous EP in late-February. At the end of July they released a full-length effort entitled “ Album” (also known as “The Blue Album”). In December they’ll likely have another disc out, which is tentatively being called “[0.5] Album.” “Our new record is named ‘ Album’ because in our minds, we haven’t really started yet,” Kim says. “We are still experimenting with the sound of Apollo 18. We’re not ready yet to start making the music we want to represent the band yet. After these three albums we will release our first official album.” A fantastic listen, “ Album” is stacked with hard hitting cuts. The insanely catchy, raucous “High Stepper,” the dirty, distorted grooves of “Trampoline,” and the blistering, psych-soaked “Orbis” are amongst its many standouts. A stunning music video for “Orbis” featuring Canadian-born, Seoul-based belly dancer Eshe can be watched at myspace.com/apollo18official. The EP and “ Album” have very different feels to them. Although its cover art will be designed to fit together with its predecessors to form one complete image, their next offering will also distance itself from what Apollo has done thus far. “The new album will be more post-rock,” says Choi. “It’s going to be more sentimental and emotional and will include acoustic guitars, piano and xylophone.” Wanting “Apollo style” to truly be all-encompassing, the group want to continually strive to re-invent themselves by trying different songwriting and recording techniques throughout what could be a very long and prosperous career.