ENHYPEN’s ‘Dark Blood’ Is A Vampire Nerd’s Dream


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Whether you love diving deep into fictional lore or are just here for the tunes and vibes, ENHYPEN’s music has layers upon layers to explore — and they’re on full display in their latest EP, writes Let’s Talk K-Pop‘s Jenna Guillaume. 

We all love a good vampire story. Creatures of the night are a recurring motif in teen media, emerging from hibernation every few years to take hold of a new generation. For ’90s teens, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the ’00s gave us Twilight and its numerous spawn, and the ’10s were dominated by the CW and especially The Vampire Diaries.

We might not be far into the ’20s, but there’s little doubt that the biggest vampire narrative of the decade so far comes not from Hollywood, but an entirely different source: fourth generation K-Pop boy group ENHYPEN.

ENHYPEN has seven members — Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake (our Aussie boy), Sunghoon, Sunoo, and Ni-ki — all in their late teens to early twenties. They’ve toyed with vampiric themes since their debut with ‘Given-Taken’ in 2020, but each successive release has seen their lore expand. Their latest mini album, Dark Blood, an EP of six songs released on Monday May 22, takes the vampire vibes to a whole new level.

Take the title track from the EP.‘Bite Me’ features bold lyrics like “just come kiss me and bite me … leave the mark on my neck that it’s yours”. (At the press conference for Dark Blood’s release day, the members teased the album was “dark”, “sexy”, and “mature” and… yeah, they weren’t kidding.)

Filmed on location in a castle in Poland, the music video for ‘Bite Me’ sees the members emerge from coffins like true vampire princes to deliver impactful, sultry choreography. There’s even some tango duets with female backup dancers; a somewhat bold move in the all-too-frequently gender segregated world of modern K-Pop.

It’s a fitting teaser for the rest of the EP, which is infused with breathy vocals and a deep sense of yearning. The album is an exploration of love, heartbreak, loneliness, sacrifice, and devotion. Intro track ‘Fate’ kicks things off with a long, powerful spoken section that builds to a catchy chorus, and speaks of a “love wrapped up in blood”. ‘Bite Me’ is next on the album, followed by ‘Sacrifice (Eat Me Up)’ which, as you can probably tell by the name, extends the vampire theme even further; exploring an all-consuming desire.

The second half of the EP features ‘Chaconne’, a soul track that evokes a hedonistic fantasy. Then there’s ‘Bills’ (my personal fave on Dark Blood aside from the title track), a melodic and bright song that, conversely, explores heartbreak and the price we pay for love. The album finishes with ‘Karma’, an anthemic bop about being connected by fate. Jay revealed at the Dark Blood press conference that it was created with the idea that it would be perfect for performing with fans at concerts.

So, what’s behind the vampire theme for ENHYPEN? The reason vampires are eternal fixtures in teen culture (beyond their literal immortality, obviously) is because they’re such handy metaphors for that very specific, very intense time in your life. The focus on youth, the feelings of isolation and persecution, the desperate yearning and desire, the burgeoning sensuality and sexuality, and the sense of temptation underpinning it all — it’s all an apt analogy for teenhood.

In this way, the best vampire narratives can be enjoyed on several levels, and this is definitely true of ENHYPEN’s creative output. On the surface level, you can listen to an EP like Dark Blood and appreciate it as a fun musical ride. But equally, this album is a relatable exploration of the very human emotions of love and heartbreak — with the intensity dialed up to 100. Dark Blood perfectly captures how it feels to be a teen.

For fans of the group, Dark Blood can also be seen as a metaphor for the connection between ENHYPEN and ENGENE (the name of their fandom). In becoming idols, ENHYPEN have given up certain aspects of their lives in exchange for power, influence, and the dedication of their fans — who they likewise are devoted to. At the press conference, Jake even said that, while vampires derive energy from human blood, “our source of energy is our fan’s love”. (He cheekily added that “vampires are usually depicted as having very attractive appearances, and I don’t think we’re lacking in the looks department”.)

But if, like me, you’re high-key obsessed with narrative, vampires, or both, then you can dive really deep and explore the fictional lore of ENHYPEN. Because it’s not just random and sporadic references to vampires they employ, but a full-on narrative world. It’s basically like a fanfic AU, except created by the group’s own company and starring the members themselves.

To understand the narrative fully, the best place to start is Dark Moon: The Blood Altar, which follows a teen girl named Sooha who, aside from her mysterious supernatural strength, is a classic Mary Sue/self-insert character in the vein of Bella Swan (no hate, I love Twilight). When she starts at a new school, Decelis Academy, she finds herself mixing with seven outrageously handsome boys, each with powers of their own, who actually turn out to be vampires. Yep, it’s the ENHYPEN members — or versions of them, anyway.

The friendly Heli is based on Heeseung, while the closed off (but secretly caring) Solon is based on Sunghoon. The intelligent Jakah is inspired by Jungwon, while strong guy Jaan is based on Jay. Cute and cheeky Shion is based on Sunoo, cheerful Jino is inspired by Jake, and the youngest, Noa, is of course based on ENHYPEN’s own maknae Ni-ki.

The characters may draw on the members’ looks and personalities, but this is very much a fictional world, full of evil curses and supernatural powers and journeys through time and space. Still, it’s not just confined to the webtoon — some of ENHYPEN’s songs, including the entirety of Dark Moon, can be tied to the story (all those references to fate and destiny and sacrifice are very fitting). Perhaps most notable of all is the way the members embody the characters and add to the narrative themselves in some of their music videos.

In addition to ‘Bite Me’, some of the music videos set within the Dark Moon universe include ‘Drunk-Dazed’, ‘FEVER’, ‘Tamed-Dashed’, ‘Blessed-Cursed’, ‘Future Perfect (Pass the Mic)’ and ‘One in a Billion’, which was actually written specifically as an OST for the webtoon. If you’re a massive nerd like me, you’ll enjoy sifting through the videos for clues and connecting the dots of the wider narrative.

Considering Dark Blood is the first album in ENHYPEN’s new Blood series, it seems the vampire story is here to stay for the foreseeable future — making now the perfect time to dive in, if you haven’t already.

Of course, lore knowledge isn’t a pre-requisite for fans — without the fictional story, you’re still left with infectious music, iconic visuals, and powerful performances. Like everything with fandom, it’s up to you how you engage with it and what you make of it. Which is, of course, all part of the fun.

 This article first appeared in Let’s Talk K-Pop, Junkee’s Substack for K-Pop news, reviews, and general enthusiastic fangirling. To get weekly newsletters straight to your inbox, head over to Substack and subscribe.