ChthoniC takes it to the extreme


Taiwanese extreme metal group ChthoniC’s  (閃靈) new album Mirror of Retribution (十殿) was scheduled for release in Taiwan on 8 August. However, as Typhoon Morakot hit at the same time, the release was delayed for a few days and the autograph signing activities in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung were cancelled. ChthoniC have responded to the disaster by donating several large boxes of long-sleeved t-shirts to people in the disaster areas in the south of Taiwan.

I finally picked up my copy of the Taiwanese edition in Taipei today. Mirror of Retribution was released in the UK on 10 August and is set for release in the US on 1 September. The album was recorded in the US last year and produced by Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano.

Chthonic-terrorizer-coverChthoniC have been attracting plenty of attention from both Taiwanese and international media (also see links below) in recent months. The latest issue of leading extreme metal magazine Terrorizer features Freddy Lim on the cover. ChthoniC also actively promote their work via social media with a stream of news on Facebook, Twitter, Plurk and their blog. They are currently running an internet competition for fans to post their “fiercest” picture on their blog.

ChthoniC’s new music video “49 Theurgy Chains” (embedded above) has had 94,000 views (and counting) since it was posted on YouTube on 27 July. It was also the most discussed Taiwan music video on YouTube. It was not just popular in Taiwan. Netizens in China also took the video and posted it on Chinese video sharing websites (YouTube is blocked in China). The video had 100,000 views in China in just three days!

ChthoniC have never been afraid of standing up for their political beliefs and the video contains some powerful political imagery. At 3:17 you can see the KMT flag burning and at the end the decapitated head of Chiang Kai-shek covered in blood. The use of this imagery is related to the album’s theme of the 228 Massacre. It includes lyrics such as “The tyrants genocide / Drives me to suicide”. It is a continuation by ChthoniC of using themes of Taiwanese history, culture and mythology in their albums. ChthoniC’s previous album Seediq Bale (賽德克巴萊) was about the 1930 Wushe Rebellion, an uprising by the Seediq in Nantou against the Japanese.

Mirror of Retribution is based on the story of a battle at Xing Ling Temple (醒靈寺) in Nantou on 16 March 1947. 40 local militia fought to the death against 2,500 Chinese soldiers. The songs tell the story of one man’s journey into hell through the different realms and encounters with the different things there. At the album preview Freddy said that the Taiwanese concept of hell is different to and much more detailed than the Western concept. After a few listens to the CD the stand out tracks are Xing Ling Temple (醒靈寺), Forty-nine Theurgy Chains (鬼縛) and Rise of the Shadows (再闖閻獄). The hena (two-stringed violin) gives the album a unique and melancholic sound. Mirror of Retribution takes ChthoniC to a new extreme that will make sure their voice is heard around the world.

ChthoniC will play live in Kaohsiung on 15 August and at The Wall in Taipei on 22 August. All profits from these two shows will be donated to flood relief efforts in Taiwan. The band will embark on a tour of North America in September and October.


5 thoughts on “ChthoniC takes it to the extreme

  1. “At the album preview Freddy said that the Taiwanese concept of hell is different to and much more detailed than the Western concept.”

    Well, Dante wrote the Italian national epos about hell …

  2. David, do you know what languages it’s out in? The youtube video is in English – is the Taiwanese edition that you bought also in English? (i.e. does “Taiwanese” edition refer to language or just the market it’s sold in?)

  3. Neil, the CD should be available at most record stores in Taiwan. I am not sure about the availability of the English version in Taiwan though.

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