[This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of allkpop.]
1. Love Killa
4. Guess Who
5. Nobody Else
7. Stand Together
8. Night View
9. Last Carnival
10. Sorry I'm Not Sorry
MONSTA X is a group that I frequently see as one of the more globally popular boy groups on the music scene right now. However, I've never felt particularly drawn to the songs and comebacks they've put out. I went into this album with expectations that they'd deliver the same type of music they have traditionally created and play it safe; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fatal Love is one of the group's best releases to date. The album is intense and slightly experimental with some well-calculated risks that really resonated well.
The title track, "Love Killa," is dark, eerie, and intense with a good progression that's low and percussive. Changkyun and Jooheon both carry this song with their spitfire rap delivery. Both have signature rap styles that shine here individually. Many other artists have chosen a subpar title track out of a phenomenal tracklist of songs during their comebacks, but "Love Killa" is absolutely the right choice for title track out of the whopping 10 songs this album offers.
"Love Killa" sets the mood for the rest of the album to follow, as we continue to listen and explore the musical abilities of MONSTA X's third comeback. "Gasoline" is next, with a clear Latin inspiration. The song is rhythmic with a delightful pop spin on the chorus that brings the tempo up wonderfully. Suddenly, the group steers us into "Thriller," which, as the name suggests, is as intense as it sounds. I physically got goosebumps when I listened to this song for the first time as the track was especially haunting and operatic. With the well-placed uptempo raps firing off, the song has an amazing contrast. However, the most appealing feature of "Thriller" is the chorus- which is so strongly produced and written that I definitely urge you to try out listening to it.
Just when you feel like the album can't possibly have a better song on it, "Guess Who" comes out and takes the crown as the absolute most impactful song on the album. The instrumental is a simple, heavy hip hop instrumental, but the song itself is ever impressive. Vocals are smooth, and rap delivery is poignant- this song will absolutely resonate with audience's live. I have admittedly had this song on all weekend because I simply cannot get enough of the intricate layering they did with all the different parts of the song.
"Nobody Else" is more melodic and Western in style with a lot of English lyrics interlaced with Korean. The song has a sort of cross-cultural appeal and feels sad and delicate but intense thematically. Then suddenly, we are back to the ultra-refined chaos that is "BEASTMODE." The song is a bit more abrasive and frenetic and doesn't seem to capture the intensity this album seems to deliver quite as well as the other tracks. However, the EDM drop does give a nostalgic and interesting G-Dragon Coup d'etat vibe. According to the song's credits on Spotify, Eric Nam had a hand in writing this song!
This album has been phenomenal with a lot of range shown up until this point, when again we are met with a very refreshing and attractive sound of traditional Korean instruments being sampled into the instrumental of "Stand Together." The song's energy is distinct, and the chanting isn't abrasive- it's powerful. Groups often struggle with toeing the line of too much and too little, but MONSTA X is a great example of a certain balance of refinement and theatric showmanship. I feel this would be another song that would truly be impactful and fly well with live audiences.
"Night View" is exactly what the album was missing up until this point- something smooth, ethereal, and evocative. The house beat works perfectly against the wispiness of the instrumental BGM and gives an airy feeling that makes the song so listenable that I'd show it to someone who wasn't into K-Pop as a gateway song. "Last Carnival" also fills the gap of having something upbeat and melodic. The song is repetitive, but in all the right ways as it has a delivery from the members that seems to work in perfection. It seems that MONSTA X has truly grown into a senior group and have learned to complement one another in their years together. This song is a great example of their effortless synergy.
The album's last song is "Sorry I'm Not Sorry," which is absolutely gorgeous and not the classic 'k-pop ballad that ends an album.' Yes- it's downtempo, yes- it's acoustic, but it evokes such a feeling of nostalgia and is so sonorous that it's the absolute cherry on top for an album this incredible in range.
I never expected this intense and well-made of an MV for "Love Killa." The MV was well-connected to the song's theme as the members paid homage to some of the greatest "killers" of all time. There are references to films like Hannibal Lecter, Fight Club, American Pyscho, Joker, and more with each member taking on a different influence. These influences from all of these staple cult movies made for an intensely cinematic MV that definitely was enrapturing to watch throughout the duration of the entire song. The styling was impeccable, and the choreography, as always, did not disappoint. I'd make the argument that this is in the top list of most coherent and well-executed comebacks of this year thus far.
MV Score: 9.3
Album Score: 9