Chthonic
Takasago Army


2.5
average

Review

by DarkNoctus CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
July 18th, 2011 | 77 replies | 11,570 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: yet another miss.

One could say that Taiwanese symphonic black metal band Chthonic have a lot to answer for. If you aren't one of those who hasn't been following this band, Chthonic released a very widely acclaimed album Seediq Bale in 2006. An impressively crafted album of traditional Taiwanese instruments and black metal, almost seamlessly put together with gem after gem of incredibly enjoyable symphonic black metal. Their last album Mirror of Retribution was a total failure in this respect. Chthonic tried to take a heavier approach to their music in places, trying a more metal-fronted sound rather than their instantly recognizable Taiwanese folk-instruments. Because of this, the unique atmosphere of their music was more or less nowhere to be found. Many of those who really enjoyed Seediq Bale (me included) were left very disappointed by the fact that Chthonic had forgotten what made them a unique, refreshing and overall a very entertaining and captivating band.

Unfortunately, not much has changed. Since their mainstream success, Chthonic have more or less abandoned their atmosphere in favour of relatively simplistic guitar-fronted songs without the captivating feeling Seediq Bale perfectly crafted and practised. There are moments here where the atmospherics seem to mingle with the rest of the mix but it's not enough to save this album from becoming just another symphonic black metal album that could really be anyone. Yes, they have the folk instruments that set them apart, but the biggest issue is the fact that nothing seems seamless here like it did in Seediq Bale. It seems thrown in as an afterthought. It's far too evident here that they started composing the riffs before anything else so the metal parts are too prominent and nothing really blends together very well as a consequence. It more or less kills any cohesiveness that this band used to have a knack for.

Takasago Army isn't a bad album, but it will be a disappointment to those who were expecting a return to form for Chthonic. Perhaps this would be worth a listen of the metal sections were any good, but they only really do their job. There's no memorable solos, memorable riffs and melodies are too little to speak of and nothing seems to stick out about anything in this album as impressive. It seems comfortable, everything doing their job. Okay, I guess there are some moments where the drums really stand out but even then those moments are just not frequent enough to earn themselves any merit. The most frustrating thing is the fact that some tracks hint at their past glories and perform them well, such as some sections in the track Oceanquake. But then there are some moments where they try and replace the authentic instruments with keyboards like in the intro track The Island and Quell The Souls In Sing Ling Temple. Keyboards certainly aren't a bad thing in music like this, but knowing that Chthonic are capable of crafting brilliant atmospheres without resorting to it makes it all the more frustrating when they just don't bother to.

Aside from the occasional memorable melody in tracks like Takao and Broken Jade, this album just doesn't offer anything that any other band in the genre couldn't do better. It's not the bad album that Mirror of Retribution was, but it's far from the great album that Seediq Bale was. I guess I can't expect every band to top their greats, but the hints are here that they're more than capable of reaching that again if they play to their strengths - which just isn't what Chthonic are doing here. Instead they're focusing on heaviness when they should be focusing on atmosphere, because that's what they were good at. Seediq Bale was heavy enough without the need of focusing on how prominent the guitars were, and the bottom line is Chthonic just don't have that authentic, interesting vibe any more. They've just fallen into normality, occasionally showing a glimmer of what they used to be. But it is an improvement on their last effort, so who knows, they could surprise us. But that prospect is slipping away with every passing release, and no doubt the next Chthonic release (if there is one) will give me the same feeling. But it's produced pretty well and it's at least competent so it's not totally useless.

:]



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

shame really. criticism welcome as always. :]

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



6993 Comments


Great detail, pos'd

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks :] also snap, thou dig!

BallsToTheWall
July 18th 2011



44164 Comments


"very widely acclaimed album Seediq Bale in 2003"

2006.


Heard one song off this lost all hope and respect for the band. A true one hit wonder.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

woah why did I put 2003

thanks, fixing now

Ovrot
July 18th 2011



10490 Comments


band name rules

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah the name's pretty neat :]

Hawks
July 18th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm still gonna check it out, but this is pretty much what I expected.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

me too, it's such a shame because these guys are (or at least, were) capable of great things. :[

Hawks
July 18th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Seediq Bale is one of my favorite black metal albums and if this is as average as you say then I'm gonna be very disappointed.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

well it's better than Mirror of Retribution but that really isn't saying much. i'd give the track Oceanquake a try, it's my favorite here.

Hawks
July 18th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't even listen to Mirror of Retribution haha.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2011



16310 Comments


Their last album was god awful so I won't be checking this out. Very nice review as usual Noctus, pos.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I didn't even listen to Mirror of Retribution haha.


you genuinely aren't missing out on anything

and thanks crysis :] yeah it was, such a letdown

Baphomet
July 18th 2011



7364 Comments


I was looking forward to this but your review made me reconcider getting it...

YOU STOLE CHRISTMAS FROM ME, NOCTUS!

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2011



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm sorry! :[

Hawks
July 18th 2011



35603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you genuinely aren't missing out on anything

Yeah I figured that's exactly why I didn't even bother. I was hoping for a return to form for them, but I guess that doesn't happen.

Carnifex
July 19th 2011



1918 Comments


Never heard these guys ever before, gonna check out Seediq Bale now though. Hawks is like a black
metal know-it-all here so I'll take it that it's a fucking amazing album haha.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
July 19th 2011



21783 Comments


Oh nice you made an entire review.
Yeah I've only heard Takao and it sounded ok but definitely wasn't Seediq Bale.
Why does everyone forget Relentless Recurrence though?

Digging: Gesaffelstein - Aleph

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
July 19th 2011



21783 Comments


Edit: fucking phone

pos'd btw



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