Review Summary: Chthonic delve into their oriental sound and past influences and arise all the stronger for it
Taiwanese black metal act Chthonic
raise no small amount of debate within the metal community, with their opus Seediq Baalle
released in 2005 they established themselves as a band capable of releasing truly great black metal. Since then they have been on rough terrian, with their follow up albums Mirror of Retribution
and Takasago Army
gaining them equal measures of praise and criticism, with fans eagerly awaiting the moment they would match their great Seediq Bale
once more. Well, with Bu-Tik
they have finally managed to come close, albeit with a new sound entirely.
On this album, Chthonic have thrown everything that they have at the listener, there are no slow songs on this, no instrumental breaks, the only instrumentals been the beginning and the end of the album, this is extreme metal as it was meant to be, fast and pounding, not letting up until the listener is either wrapped up in its brutal embrace, never going back, or is lying unconscious on the floor. The production is crisp, allowing all the elements making up the sound to be heard (save the bass unfortunately) and the song structure is varied across the album, adding variety and inspiration to a genre that can occasionally be found wanting in these areas.
What Chthonic have managed to accomplish on this album is a wondrous blend of all the different aspects that make up their sound, from the oriental erhu and other influences from their native Taiwan, to the Cradle of Filth
symphonic elements, to the thrash/death/black metal sounds that they have developed since the beginning. All of these different elements, combined with the powerful and ranged vocals of Freddy Lim and the almost obligatory lyrics about Taiwans messy history, they bring these all together in a form that has not been seen since Seediq Bale
. This sound is what has made, and continues to make Chthonic so unique amongst the extreme metal world, and without this, you get the result of Mirror of Retribution
which, whilst not a bad album, is not what is wanted from Chthonic.
Each member manages to play their part perfectly, with only guitarist Jesse Liu managing to produce fast and brutal riffs and occasional solo that doesn't let up for the entirety of the albums duration. The drums are brutal, fast double bass pedalling and symbol crashes are to be expected a lot. The symphonic side of the band is provided by keyboardist and synthesiser player CJ who manages to add elements of atmosphere and oriental music to the maelstrom around it through his work, combine this with the erhu from Freddy and the other elements of experimentation, that are more present on this album than on any other and you have a unique sound that is instantly recognisable as Chthonic, bringing in new instruments to the mix to draw even more from their homeland than ever before, a prime example of this sound is on new anthem Defenders of Bu-Tik Palace
and great track Rage of My Sword
. The vocal department provided by Freddy Lim is on top form, with his unique brand of high scream piercing through each song, thankfully it is employed more than on previous outing Takasago Army
which had it on the back, this is not to say that his low, almost death metal growls are bad, they are powerful and provide a good contrast to the highs, and are used wonderfully on this album to punctuate important moments, tempo changes and choral moments, Defenders
again been a good example of this. It is unfortunate that Doris Yeh's bass parts are masked by the sound, only occasionally braking through to throw a moment of heaviness at you.
If listeners were wanting a return to the sound of Seediq Bale
on this album, then they will unfortunately be left wanting, what you have here is the sound of a band evolving once more. Chthonic are entering a new stage of extreme metal, keeping their influences close to heart and drawing them in like air to the lungs, but at the same time they are reaching up, picking new fruit from the tree, and it is bearing sweet results. Bu-Tik
is a must listen for anyone who enjoys oriental sounds, or has enjoyed the newer sounds of Chthonic. If this album shows anything, it is that Chthonic have much more to bring to the table.
Sail into the Sunset Fire
Rage of my Sword
Defenders of Bu-Tik Palace