TAIWAN IS a country where history and folklore work very much hand in hand, and both of these elements are central to the latest studio album from that country’s premier metal outfit, Chthonic (pronounced ‘Thonic’).
Formed in 1995, five-piece set-up Chthonic (a name deriving from a Greek word signifying spirits of the underworld) have delivered an 11-track body of work that touches on both the spirit and mortal worlds, with loss of national identity and the sometimes turbulent history of their homeland recurring themes.
With Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano at the production & mixing helm, ‘Mirror Of Retribution’‘Where The Ancestors’ Souls Gathered’ sees the award-winning musicians further developing a style that started with the ’99 album , blending full-on metal of the darker persuasion with traditional Taiwanese instruments such as two-string violin, the hena.
“The story behind this album combines true historical fact with an ancient myth of hell,” explains bassist and band spokesperson Doris Yeh. “Amongst other things, we make reference to the famous ‘228 Massacre’, which was the biggest ever massacre in Taiwanese history. Tens of thousands of Taiwanese were killed by the Chinese army. The final battle of the event occurred in the middle of Taiwan, where 40 local militia attempted to resist 2,500 soldiers from the Chinese army. In the end, the militia lost their lives near the Sing-Ling Temple.
“Musically, we tried to move the band to a whole new level,” continues Doris. “In the past, we’ve been described in various ways, as ‘symphonic black metal’ or ‘melodic death’, the word ‘folk’ has also been applied at times, but this was our chance to establish a new place for ourselves in the extreme metal genre…”
Never ones to shy away from a just cause, Chthonic – in particular frontman Freddy Lim – have been consistently active on the political front at home, whilst away from their hometown of Taipei they have appeared at the Wacken Festival in Germany and toured as part of the Ozzfest in the US, the first Asian extreme metal band to make such a mark.
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Past and future dates this band has played: