Having listened to Ateez‘s complete discography right before Treasure Epilogue: Action to Answer was released, I had already gotten into the mood of a sailor on an exciting adventure with her friends. With their previous album Treasure EP. Fin: All to Action, Ateez left us with a glimmer of hope that we would find our long awaited treasure soon, and that this adventure, as sad as it may be to do so, will end upon finding said treasure.
Yet Action to Answer does not end this exciting journey, but rather informs us that this is the first of many treasures that we will find. It is akin to how there is never an ultimate peak in one’s life, but rather multiple peaks that make life so exhilarating despite the struggles that come with it. Action to Answer consists of three brand new songs, a continuation of an overture first heard in All to Action, and lastly an outro to wrap up the first part of this journey. The stories told and the emotions expressed through these tracks make the fifteen minute EP sound like a month’s worth of experiences at sea, thus proving Ateez has a knack at storytelling –– a quality that is rare and hard to find in most rookie groups’ tracks.
Before we jump into the review for Action to Answer, it is important to understand where this EP is picking up from, considering the fact that all their releases combine to form one cohesive story. Although the tracks can be listened to as standalone songs and can still be considered as relatively good songs, the storyline behind these songs add to the listening experience, and that is exactly what makes the EP so good.
Ateez first started off their journey with Treasure EP 1: All to Zero, marking it as the beginning of a new journey, carrying the ambition of rookies who wish to find their path towards greater things. It is an EP filled with hope, and as Yunho mentioned in an interview, it also displays “everyone’s individual starting point”, almost like a personal introduction for each Dungeons and Dragons character.
In Treasure EP 2: Zero to One and Treasure EP 3: One to All, we see how these individual personalities start to come together as one unit to work together, and slowly evolve into a team that highlights each other’s strengths while covering each other’s weaknesses. This sense of camaraderie is spotlighted in their first full album, All to Action, and we see how their teamwork has led them to the long awaited treasure that they have been looking for.
The story is continued in their latest title track, “Answer”, a song that embodies the word “celebration” in its entirety. “Answer” first starts off with a more restrained sound –– uncertain, even –– that implies a repressed joy and doubtfulness felt when reaching the end after a long period of struggle. However, there is a surge of energy in the pre-chorus that builds up to give the chorus the catharsis one feels when they are overjoyed to have finally found what they have been looking for. The party held to celebrate the fact that they have found the treasure becomes wilder and energised, with “Answer” switching from genre to genre in a short span of four minutes–– the firstly restrained sound to hard-hitting hip hop to catchy EDM beats.
Although it may sound chaotic, the transitions between each genre were smooth and flowed so easily that it all blended together to form the quintessential Ateez sound that Atinys begun to love and appreciate.
Despite the smooth transitions and blending of different genres to emulate the different emotions one feels when they celebrate, however, the ending of the song loses its impact for it does not properly wrap up the song and the emotions felt. Although one can never reach a proper conclusion when dealing with one’s own emotions, from a musical standpoint, it is important for songs to round up their sound so that it sounds more like a cohesive track as compared to two tracks mashed together seamlessly with completely different beginning and ending points.
The next track, “Horizon”, is as straightforward as the name implies. Both lyrically and musically, “Horizon” expresses excitement and curiosity to what lies ahead after finding the first of many treasures. Musically, it takes on an anthem-like sound, engaging with the listener and allowing them to feel as if they are marching on towards a brighter future. Lyrically, Ateez acknowledges the potential hardships they will face along the way, but also expressing enthusiasm in facing these challenges head on.
In the dry sky that is burning
On the transparent sea
Is it blooming or is that haze?
Grasping our oars
Let’s enjoy the superb view and the waves
If Ateez had not proved their ambition already, “Horizon” is the song that fully conveys their determination to succeed and dabble in different genres of music. Furthermore, it cements the bond between the members and implies that they will move forward together as a unit, helping each other reach both individual and shared goals.
If “Answer” and “Horizon” are the so-called party songs celebrating the found treasure and looking forward to newer experiences, “Star 1117” shows appreciation towards the treasure found, as well as towards the members onboard the journey. Musically, the song offers a sense of closure to the first part of Ateez’s journey –– a lovely lullaby reflecting on their expedition thus far. By placing “Star 1117” in the middle of the album, it gives listeners a chance to breathe and appreciate the memories made during this adventure, as well as allow us to fully treasure Ateez’s vocals; San, I’m looking at you.
Lyrics-wise, “Star 1117” is simple yet powerful. It is honest and does not rely on complex metaphors or specific imagery to convey its emotions, but rather, each line is unembellished, simply stating one’s wishes and feelings. When looking at the Treasure series, “Star 1117” is arguably the first song without a chaotic mesh of sounds and vivd imagery, but its simplicity does not undermine Ateez’s standard of music. Instead, it proves that Ateez is capable of creating a variety of songs while maintaining a certain quality.
The energy picks up again with “Precious”, an extended version of the overture found in All to Action. “Precious” serves as a reminder to both the members and listeners that this adventure is far from over, and that the treasure they just found is the first of many more to come.
It also acknowledges the challenges the members have faced to attain their first treasure, and the upcoming challenges that will come with finding more treasures. One thing is for sure: Ateez is addicted to the high that comes with finding a treasure, and this addiction will only further fuel their determination and ambition.
At last we’ve found the treasure
Our hands are full of treasure
Everybody is enjoying the pleasure
We have to find it again – it’s crazy.
The last track is not a song, but rather a spoken piece. Similar to “Intro: Long Journey” in All to Zero, “Outro: Long Journey” sets expectation for the next expedition, but also providing closure to the Treasure series. This gives Ateez two choices –– continue on with this adventure, or close this chapter and delve into another. Additionally, the choice to name the outro the same title as the intro implies that Ateez’s journey is never-ending, and that they boys will continue to strive and improve themselves as people, and as musicians.
Ateez has proven themselves to be extremely capable in executing a concept and generating a cohesive storyline in their Treasure series, and I am genuinely excited as to where their ambition takes them to next.
However, there is a concern that their transition from the Treasure series to whatever new concept they decide to embark on next may not be smooth, and may potentially cause the next concept to be detached from Treasure, thus making the switch jarring. Ateez’s biggest challenge now is to continue this wondrous journey they have set upon, but also distinguish between concepts to show variety as a music group, otherwise they will be dubbed as “the pirate group” for the rest of their career. Ateez’s ambitious nature has brought them this far, and I am sure that their next project will be one to keep an eye out for.