Hands up who’s heard of Chthonic before? Well, chances are, before this year at least, you won’t have, but with 2009’s ‘Mirror Of Retribution’ and now this year’s ‘Takasago Army’, they should have garnered a few more fans in the Western Hemisphere. I can honestly say they’re the only black metal band that I’ve heard from Taiwan.
This is pretty different stuff, it must be said. I guess the nearest comparison I can make to their sound is to Dimmu Borgir, but with a lil’ crazy Chinese instrument thingy. It’s called an ‘erhu’ and it kinda sounds like a one string violin. So, you’ve got this thing wandering in and out of the melody, making it sound like an Age of Empires soundtrack in places, but mixed up with some pretty awesome black metal. It all makes for a good listen.
It doesn’t take long to get into this album; a lot of the tracks are pretty similar in structure and there’s even some breakdowns in there to piss off the black metal elite. Pre-release track ‘Takao’ is probably the stand-out, much like ‘Blooming Blades’ from ‘Mirror Of Retribution’, the Chinese influence works well with the bulldozing guitars and bass. Move on a bit and ‘Oceanquake’ and ‘Southern Cross’ will maybe be the more accessible tracks, sounding like Abigail Williams in points. It’s probably an apt statement to say that if you find black metal too fast paced or downright stupid, Chthonic will provide you with a different view on the genre.
Another thing to mention about Chthonic is their bizarre costumes. They actually look fucking terrifying at points, even though the beautiful Doris on bass marks quite a small figure. If you’re still sitting there thinking “I’m sure I know this band! Where the devil have I heard them though?”, it may be from this year’s Download Festival, where they played quite an early set on second stage which seemed to go down pretty well with the modest crowd. My personal inebriated view of them was good, anyway. I’m not sure my shouts of “TAILANESE BRACK METARRR” went down too well though.
Written by Martin Savage
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.