CHTHONIC - Takasago Army CD Review
TITLE: Takasago Army
LABEL: Spinefarm Records
REVIEWED BY: John Roach
I was first introduced to ChthoniC at a restaurant in Bradford, Ontario a few weeks ago with friends and the waitress serving us noticed my Amon Amarth shirt and insisted on bringing out her phone to show me this band. She went around taking other peoples orders as I sat there with my ear to the phone listening to the track "Takao". It caught my attention right away with the fast paced drums and melodic guitars with traditional Asian instruments. Really digging it I then noticed they weren't singing English. Once she told me they were from Taiwan I was ecstatic! I am a huge fan of finding metal music from around the globe and Taiwan was one country I had yet to hear anything from. That night I went home and fired up more songs by this amazing band and I became instantly hooked. They recently released their sixth full length studio album "Takasago Army" and I am lucky enough to be the one talking about it so let's get down to the nitty gritty that is this Taiwanese melodic black metal band.
Right from the start you are brought into the world of the Takasago Army. A subject I wasn't aware of and I thought I was a history buff on this subject. In World War II, the Japanese drafted Taiwanese tribes to fight for the empire. A very touchy subject and one that isn't as exposed as much it should be. The album takes place during the events between 1940 and 1945 and is the final album of a trilogy. The first track "The Island" is a huge orchestral build up featuring traditional instruments of Taiwan, such as a Pgaku Flute and Hena, ending suddenly with the distant sound of wind creating this feeling of doom, as if you're about to take a life ending plunge. Then the second track starts and in come the rest of the band to bring this larger than life sound to fruition.
The mixing of the album is spot on with everything that is happening. All the instruments and vocals blend together seamlessly. Everyone present on the album brings different things to the table and has their own moments to shine. The guttural vocals change often and go between raspy thrash, deep death, and high black metal ranges with moments of female clean vocals like in the track "Karou". Songs like “Root Regeneration” have spoken word moments which help to ground the depth and importance of the story. This amount of variation from track to tack keeps me interested and hungry for more. From brutal, intense moments filled with darkness to uplifting choruses and melodic/ symphonic lines complimented with the traditional instruments and synth that work so very well with metal. ChthoniC takes this unique blend and makes it their own and is like nothing you have heard before.
"Takasago Army" is a full, rich, exotic, and new experience. It’s an intense musical journey that will put you on their home soil even if you are unaware of the backstory. The fact that this music has the power to transport you speaks leaps and bounds for how tight and good the band sounds. If you don't believe me, listen to the album from the start and either close your eyes or go for a walk. Best effect if you’re by a huge body of water! ChthoniC needs more press and more people need to hear this album. I can't get enough of this colossal act!
ChthoniC is worth a look into and I highly encourage you to pick up the latest album! I missed them when they were here in Toronto with Arch Enemy. Whoever went to that show I'm even more jealous of you now!!
01. The Island
02. Legacy of the Seediq
05. Southern Cross
07. Broken Jade
08. Root Regeneration
10. Quell the Souls in Sing Ling Temple