CD Reviews > Chthonic

Chthonic - Takasago Army

Spinefarm Records

Taiwanese Symphonic Black Metallers Chthonic (pronounced “Thonic”) take us back in time to WWII to complete the trilogy of a storyline which started with their 2007 Seediq Bale album and continued with their 2009 album, Mirror of Retribution. The third installment is Takasago Army, in which the band once again dazzles us with their unique blend of ancient and modern, of Oriental melodies and traditional instruments blended with the most fierce aspects of Symphonic Black Metal. Plus, they fill this luscious musical landscape with profound messages that blend both folklore and history with an eye towards manifesting a better future.

Comments bassist/backing vocalist Doris Yeh: "We're very proud to present our latest album Takasago Army; it's a masterpiece of the elements of Orient folk and extreme metal. The background revolves around WWII, and we want to reveal the spirit of finding your own dignity through the most difficult and dangerous mission on the battle ground. The closer you cone to death, the more you know who you are."

Check out the video for the song Broken Jade!

Hailing from Taipei, Taiwan, the aforementioned Doris Yeh is joined by: vocalist Freddy Lim (who also plays a traditional Taiwanese 2-stringed violin called “the hena” or “erhu”), guitarist Jesse Liu, CJ Kao handling piano and synthesizer, and Dani Wang kicking the skins. The band – mainly Freddy and Doris – are also political activists who advocate Taiwanese Independence, and self determination for the Tibetans and Uighurs.

Takasago Army – the band’s sixth full-length album – was recorded at Sweet Spot Studios in Sweden, and was produced by Rickard Bengtsson ( Arch Enemy , Nemesis ).

Coinciding with the album’s release, Chthonic have embarked on a North American tour supporting Arch Enemy. Sponsored by Metal Sucks and Full Metal Jackie , the North American Khaos Tour also features DevilDriver and Skeletonwitch on the bill.

Takasago is an ancient Japanese name for Taiwan, and Takasago Army refers volunteer soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army, recruited from the Taiwanese aboriginal tribes during World War II. The instrumental “The Island” starts the album off with an air of tranquility, a lone Oriental flute-sound is then layered over with orchestral elements as beautiful as light glimmering on waves in the water. By contrast, the excellent “Legacy of the Seediq” is absolutely thunderous! The fantastic “Takao” is as exotic and ferocious as a tiger, and is interspersed with lovely Oriental melodies.

“Oceanquake” delivers Nature’s fury with tsunami force. The catchy “Southern Cross” is pulverizing. The captivating “Kaoru” is simultaneously dangerous yet alluring, and features a nice female vox interlude. The fierce “Broken Jade” features the WWII surrender speech from Emperor Hirohito; otherwise it’s sharp as a well-honed sword with a subtle beauty like light shining on fragments of the title’s stone.

The short but sweet “Root Regeneration” has a meditative, aquatic vibe punctuated by spoken-word vocals sounding like they’re from the mouth of a deity or demon. “Mahakala” – named for a Buddhist protector deity – has a very militaristic feel. “Quell The Souls In The Sing Ling Temple” cries out in anguish as it honors those fallen on an ancient Taiwanese battlefield.

~Athena Schaffer