Release Date: Jul 26, 2011
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Taiwanese oriental black-metal fiends Chthonic have always been well known for their fervent Nationalistic political agendas and novel usage of traditional Asian oriental instruments, adding an element of exoticness to their otherwise straightforward and melodic black-metal style. With this six studio full-length album, they have taken both of these unique traits a huge step further, with a backstory in the CD booklet that reads like an excerpt from a history textbook on the rise of East Asian Nationalism and a stronger presence of oriental tunes in their music than ever before. Up until their previous album, Mirror Of Retribution (their debut on Spinefarm Records), they had only ever utilized the Chinese oriental violin called the erhu, but on “Takasago Army”, they have included two more Chinese oriental instruments: the Pgaku flute and the guzheng.
Chthonic rep their motherland of Taiwan. On 2005’s Seediq Bale, the band wrote an orchestral black metal concept album about the Wushe Incident, in which Taiwanese aborigines rebelled against and were massacred by Japanese colonial forces. Now, with Takasago Army, the band uses their hyperbolic brand of bombastic sonic darkness to tell the story of the Takasago Volunteers, those Taiwanese aboriginal tribesmen whom the Japanese trained in guerilla warfare and sent into the fray.
Say it three times over really fast, we dare you... ‘Takasago Army’ shows Chthonic at their most focused. Their sixth career full-length, the Taiwanese symphonic black metal merchants are finally less concerned with proving their product and more attached to creating memorable tracks. Although the group have retained their blackened roots, much of the prerequisite blasting has been replaced by galloping battle metal rhythms, as triumphant leads take precedence over chromatic trills and jolts.
With a dizzying blend of power metal and symphonic black metal, Taiwanese metal band Chthonic take on their homeland's history once again on their sixth studio album, Takasago Army. With a narrative based on the story of the Takasago Volunteers, a group of guerilla fighters in the Japanese Imperial Army who were recruited from the Taiwanese aboriginal tribes during the Second World War, the story helps to create an atmosphere of violence, death, and conflict that just feels natural among the crawling guitar work and gloomy synthesizers. While the album certainly delivers on the darkness, it manages to keep from being too suffocating thanks to the band's bombastic power metal, allowing songs like “Oceanquake” to give listeners a respite from the ever-encroaching blackness.
What would you get if Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth decided to join forces, started using Asian stringed instruments and keyboard passages and moved to Taiwan? If you said Chthonic, then you are already ahead of the curve. Chthonic, pronounced Thonic, formed about 2 years after Dimmu Borgir, so to write them off as a mere carbon copy would do them a disservice. Though there are many similarities, Chthonic forge their own unique path as they navigate through the symphonic metal scene.