Relentless Recurrence (Cd)
Seediq Bale (Cd)
A Decade On The Throne (DVD + CD)
Black Metal has spawned a host of bands from many countries (mainly Europe) but the last place I expected to find it crawling from the mire was Taiwan. Chthonic (pronounced "Thonic") however are deathly serious about their music and on these cd/dvd's it really shows. The band's name is derived from from the Greek legends pertaining to spirits or gods of the underworld. The lyrics revolve around the ancient history and myths of Taiwan and the band also incorporates traditional musical elements such as the "erhu" (a oriental two string violin) along side the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards etc... The "corpsepaint" that is usually worn by so many black metal bands is used by Chthonic as well, but their makeup is based off part of their culture. The "Eight Generals" deities who wear the paint to become one with Taoist spirits who in turn give the power to judge good and evil. Interesting indeed.
"Relentless Recurrence" (initially released in 2002) is the story of a benevolent spirit who seeks revenge, while their newest album "Seediq Bale" is based more in fact. It tells the sad tale of a Taiwanese tribe who sought rebellion against the colonial opression and was defeated by the Japanese army. Both albums have a massive black metal attack, with evil screaming male vocals and softer female vocals which is fairly standard these days, but it works. The use of the aforementioned "erhu" gives the music a more unique sound along side the other instruments as well. Metal fans will obviously hear similarities between Chthonic and other well known bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Darkthrone, etc.... I personally hear a very big Cradle Of Filth influence(especially the vocals) which is fine, everyone has to start somewhere. However, the band is really making the music their own by branching out and pushing boundries lyrically and musically.
The DVD "A Decade On The Throne" has them playing to a huge crowd in their homeland. The venue appears to be a warehouse of some type, and the audience is packed to the hilt. So, how does the band sound live? Well, all the instruments come through without overpowering each other and even the "erhu" is very prominent throughout all the songs. Lead vocalist Freddy Lim shrieks like a banshee throughout much of the show and on occasion does sing, which is nice. To be honest his vocals are very hard to understand, but hey, whats black metal without some screaming right? There are the obligatory guitar and drum solo's to fill in space and give everyone else a break as well. Overall the show is well put together, complete with projection screens and some sort of open giant hand sculputre at the edge of the stage. So yeah, I enjoyed it. Also, there are two Cd's included with DVD of the same show. The entire package is displayed in this beautiful hardback book with photos and a lot of information in Tiawanese, so I can't give you the specifics. Not only is the DVD set exquisite, but so are the cd's Seediq Bale and Relentless Recurrence. They are both digipacks with dark gorgeous artwork inside and out. Chthonic spared no expense on the quality of these releases.
After all this, the band is perfoming at the Wacken open air festival in Germany, touring with Ozzfest (on selected dates) on their "UNlimited tour, and supporting (surprise, surprise) Cradle Of Filth as well . If your a metal fan you should be hearing about this band very soon if you haven't already. I think that after all this positive exsposure, Chthonic will have no trouble finding a fanbase outside it's homeland, and will taking the metal world by storm very shortly. Definitely a band to watch out for.
- Craig Harvey