Review Summary: Seediq Bale was no fluke. Despite the different sound, Chthonic show that they are more than capable of putting out another fantastic effort that can compete with the greats of their back catalogue.
Since their 2005 effort Seediq Bale brought them international attention and a deal with Spinefarm Records, Taiwanese metallers have struggled to match the expectations the metal community has placed upon them from the success of that album. 2009’s Mirror of Retribution was seen as rather unoriginal and more or less a poor man’s Cradle of Filth while Takasago Army saw the quintet move away from their black metal roots, including ditching the corpsepaint from their image. While warmly received it still got criticised for its stylistic change, and this is where we reach their latest offering, Bú-Tik, which seems to embrace some of the old black metal elements that were absent from Takasago Army, accompanied by a more cyber/steampunk image which helps to give off a more dramatic atmosphere, with martial arts, piracy and the future all being among the topics of this album. And the change is overall rather successful.
Bú-Tik show’s Chthonic somewhat return to form (if their last two albums are seen as below par) and shows further experimentation with unconventional instruments, including what sounds like bagpipes in album highlight “Rage of My Sword”. This album doesn’t take any breaks (compared to the slower tracks and instrumental “Root Regeneration” in their last album) with a relentless barrage of riffs and fast paced drumming and total lack of filler – the closest we get to a break is in the two tracks “Between Silence and Death” and “Resurrection Pyre” which isn’t much of a break in itself.
This album also shows the various metal influences that were previously shown in their early efforts (the very early output of Chthonic showed some ventures into power metal) - it can be said that tracks like “Next Republic” show that some of those influences remain, while the pirate themed “Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire” feels like Alestorm crossed with Dimmu Borgir. Another enjoyable track on here is the metal rendition of “Set Fire to the Island” (which, for those of you that may not know, was released as a symphonic single along with a risqué photobook of bassist Doris Yeh) which seamlessly switches genres, with room for an impressive solo from Jesse Liu, while “Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace” is probably the best track on the album. Taiwanese opera singer Meiyun Tang’s backing vocals fit beautifully into the Taiwanese lyrical section while the erhu, an essential part of Chthonic’s signature sound, is used to great effect throughout the verses and shows Chthonic at their best.
If you came here expecting another Seediq Bale, then chances are you will be disappointed. But if you liked the new sound that these guys were trying to produce in their previous album then you’ll love this progression. This album shows that they haven’t forgotten where they came from but are continuing to evolve and prove that they’re no one trick pony. In that respect, this album is a roaring success.
Supreme Pain for the Tyrant
Rage of My Sword
Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace