Written by: MN on 24/06/2013 01:58:08

Just as many forms of art can be appreciated for their aesthetic, dynamic or complex qualities, the power of art in all of its manifestations can also be found in their socio-political aspects. What makes the work of a music journalist interesting is to try and extract the motivations behind these artistic creations seeing as compositions can be fiercely personal, sometimes clearly political, other times they are expressions of protest. In the case of Taiwanese metallers Chthonic, I was baffled at the complexity of their work. It has taken me well over two weeks before daring to nestle down in my chair to approach what I consider one of the best releases of this year. The bandname Chthonic is derived from ancient Greek and is a reference to the underworld, the interior of the soil where the deities of darkness roam. Whichever interpretation you may have of this concept of Greek mythology, one thing remains crystal clear, Chthonic's musical expression is dark, and very powerful, to the point where it seems transcendental. Genre-wise, Chthonic have developed a clear expression that sees a synthesis of their past ventures, a fierce smelting of symphonic, thrash, black, and death metal with clear Taiwanese folkloric elements. After seven releases, the history lessons and politically-tinged compositions have an outlasting endurance. "Bú-Tik" is an album chock-a-block filled with stories of Taiwanese history played out in a very powerful prism.

The album opener is "Arising Armament" and as the name implies, the instrumental opener echoes the calm before the storm, the prepare for battle. As the oriental drums wring out, the first track "Supreme Pain For The Tyrant" develops like a peacock unwinds it's kaleidoscope crest of blue eyes, the song get's increasingly more complex. In pure Chthonic style, the song is a reference to a Taiwanese political activist, in this case, of the story of Peter Huang who attempted to assasinate the ex-president, but failed and famously uttered the words "Let me stand up like a Taiwanese".

Following this epic first track is "Sail into the sunset fire" a song of the pirates who settled on the Taiwanese coast, another very heavy track with a very theatrical tone. "Next Republic" is a sublime track that echoes one of Chthonic main political motives, that of independence from the oppression of other nations. "Rage of my Sword" is the most aggressive output on "Bú-Tik", and displays supersonic drumming, thrash riffage and proves just how fast Chthonic can play. A personal favourite comes in the form of the last song "Defenders Of The Bú-Tik Palace", which sees the versatility of vocalist Freddy Lim. He shrieks and growls infernally, and again the evolution of the track is incredible; the use of traditional tones upon this face-smasher is also astounding, but especially the background clean vocals seal the song like an digestif seals a meal. The album culminates in yet another oriental finisher "Undying Rearmament".

I have praised this album to the skies, and for good reason. Chthonic have managed to release a record that could top their previous effort "Takasago Army" which was stock-filled with original, quality metal. Their consistency echoes that of Greece's Rotting Christ, who also have a similar depth in their music, but of course with different motivations. On another side note, I urge fans to check out the music video for "Supreme Pain For The Tyrant" because if you like choreographed kung-fu along with assasinations of the corrupt, then this is just your cup of tea. Give this record a couple of spins, it is pretty magnificent.


Download: Defenders Of The Bú-Tik Palace, Next Republic, Supreme Pain For The Tyrant
For The Fans Of:Naglfar, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ

Release Date 31.05.2013
Spinefarm Records

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