Chthonic is not a new band, even though they are not very well known to the public. Maybe their Taiwanese origin is a reason for this, since it’s only the last few years that they try to spread their music to a wider audience. They were formed in 1995 and it was four years later when their debut album was released. “Mirror of Retribution” is their fifth full-length album, released 4 years after their previous effort “Seediq Bale” in 2005. The band has been very active all these years, releasing many albums, EPs, compilations, as well as 2 live DVDs and making many gigs around the world and finally they draw the attention of Spinefarm Records who signed them for their new album.
From the first seconds it is obvious that their basic influence is Cradle of Filth and they have many similarities with them, both in sound and music. But Chthonic is very far from being a CoF clone. They definitely have their personal identity, which is based on the many local elements they use in their music and especially the traditional Taiwanese instruments such as the very characteristic two-string violin, called “hena”. They play fast melodic black metal with synths and folk influences and they have a very powerful sound. Guitar riffs are very dominant in their songs and they don’t always follow the typical black metal guitar lines. They often have a progressive and death metal approach and they sound very technical. Their vocals are also very variable, using many different styles of extreme brutal black/death metal screams.
Another interesting factor about Chthonic is that they have a very unusual lyrical concept, based on Taiwanese myths and legends under a somehow nationalistic prism. Of course this is usual for many bands, but it’s the first time I see it from a group from this area. In their booklet there are many details about their local history and the concept of this album. The lyrics are in English and I have to admit that they are much better than many bands whose first language is English… Anyway, this lyrical concept fits perfectly to their music and together with hena’s sad sound it helps the band to create a very dark and unique atmosphere. I prefer their more folkloric and melodic moments, but actually all compositions are very good!
Overall “Mirror of Retribution” deserves your attention, since it’s a very professional album with many great songs and a really unusual and original mix of black metal and Taiwanese music, all under a surprisingly good production, where everything sounds crystal clear! Their previous works are also very good, but if you don’t know them, this is the right album to begin with. It is more than obvious that they have worked a lot to reach to this level and I hope they succeed their goals. You can check Chthonic’s music in their official pages.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos