ChthoniC - Takasago Army [Review]

Genre: Extreme Metal

Label: Spinefarm Records

Release date: July 2011, September 6th (North America)

Reviewer: Tristan French

Cross generations of pent up anger and frustration in a crusade for Taiwanese independence with a historic tale of war and struggle, and you get ChthoniC’s sixth studio release, “Takasago Army.” Based around the recruiting and training of Taiwanese guerilla soldiers by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, I think you’ll agree that a hard hitting concept like this one, deserves music that’s equally as hard hitting, and boy do ChthoniC step up to the plate with a fist held high! Upping their game through both their stage presence (Abandoning the corpse paint in favor of military inspired outfits) and through aggressively awesome music , “Takasago Army” surely does not disappoint.

The album opens with the film-score esque (seriously, it could only be equaled by Hans Zimmer) “The Island”, utilizing traditionally Asian melodies and instruments to offer a noble and militaristic atmosphere, foreshadowing the assault to follow within the crushing riffs and ear assaulting drums of “Legacy of the Seediq”. Opening well is key for an album, and ChthoniC succeed with throwing listeners straight into the line of fire making it clear that they are pulling no punches with this record. The icing on the cake of course being the haunting undertone provided by keyboardist C.J (Dispersed Fingers), and this is only the second song! Followed by the equally awesome “Takao”, the album’s lead single (which on the English version includes a guest appearance from Ensiferum’s Sami Hinkka) as well as a brilliant Er-hu melody performed by vocalist Freddy Lim (or Freddy, Left Face of Maradou.) “Takao” is most likely the angriest track on the album, directly representing the violence committed by the Takasago recruits, reflected through sonic riffs, thundering bass and the clear anguish in frontman Freddy Lim’s growls.

Takasago Army” really does provide songs equally brilliant to such a strong opening, no easy feet by any means, with middle tracks “Oceanquake” , “Southern Cross” and “Broken Jade” providing guitarist Jesse Liu (The Infernal) with plenty of opportunity to display his guitar prowess and to show the world that he could easily hold his own against some of metal’s greatest lead players of this day and age. “Southern Cross” also provides the perfect mix between the oriental instruments and the rumbling guitar work, as well as another ambient introduction, serving as a “calm before the storm” in a sense, this is a song that’ll make you really want to get up and fight! While songs such as “Kaoru” and “Mahakala” shift the album into the abyss, showing a descent almost, appealing to fans of the much darker, black metal like style. The coup de gras being “Root Regenertaion” and “Quell the Souls in the Sing Ling Temple” providing the symphonic/folk seasoning to this concoction.

Although at times, I did feel the songs became repetitive, after about the 7th èrhú punctuated breakdown. However, despite structural similarity, ChthoniC have somehow made each song seem unique in it’s own right, with Lim’s heart hitting lyrics (having been written in both the Taiwanese dialect AND English) leaving on the cusp of revolting! This enabled me to listen to the album straight through (almost like one big song.) Overall, I’m going to rate “Takasago Army” as an:

ChthoniC have clearly proven themselves as a true force to be reckoned with, and despite a somewhat repetitive formula, this Taiwanese quintet are ready to take the world by storm, best watch out!

Catch Chthonic on tour with Arch Enemy and Warbringer in December. [Click here for dates]

Click here to order "Takasago Army" via: iTunes | AmazonMp3

1 comment:

  1. very2 powerfull music and vocal...yearghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!