Feb 212014

Now this is some truly heart-warming news, at least for my black heart. The organizers of PAGANFEST AMERICA PART V have just announced the schedule of dates — which I will share with you in a moment. But first, here are five reasons why this is worth noticing:

Korpiklaani:  They are a band that I think are worth seeing whenever the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t even matter if their music isn’t in your regular rotation. I’ve seen them twice, and I’m completely sold. Jonne Järvelä is a magnetic, high-energy, infectiously good-natured frontman, the smiling Buddha-like bass-player Jarkko Aaltonen has an epic beard, they sing a lot about drinking, and they know how to rock the fuck out in a live setting.

Turisas: Never seen them, but based on concert videos I’ve watched, I’m betting they will be tons of fun too.

Chthonic: Their last two albums are really good (I hadn’t fully climbed on the Chthonic bandwagon before then), and based on videos, they also look like they know how to put on a kickass show.

Feb 112014

Culled here from the ever-flowing effluent of the interhole are four new ear- and eye-pleasing treats, with a bit of impressionistic verbiage. The songs have nothing in common, except my liking for them.

MANTAR

Mantar (above) are a new two-piece band, half German and half Turkish, whose debut album Death By Burning is scheduled for North American release by Svart Records on February 25. I previously wrote about one advance song, “Spit”. Today DECIBEL delivered the premiere of a music video for a second one, “White Nights”.

Men at work, wolves at work, strobes in the studio, shadows in the forest (and something else in the forest), amps and pines. The squeal of feedback, the squall of a fuzz-bombed guitar, riffs that open wounds, vocals that cauterize them, drum strikes that will bring you to your knees. Stripped-down and flesh-stripping, obliterating and head-nodding.

Nov 122013

(Andy Synn reviews the concert delivered by Norway’s Satyricon and Taiwan’s Chthonic last weekend in Manchester, England.)

One thing I have learned this past week is that gigs in the US and the UK run on different time-scales. Whereas our American cousins like to start late and run long, more and more I’m seeing British gigs start early and run to a merciless time-scale.

I’m also seeing more and more shows without an “opener”, as such, relying on the main bands to provide all the necessary draw (a decision which makes clear sense in a lot of ways, as tonight’s sold-out crowd demonstrated).

CHTHONIC

Case in point – tonight’s doors opened at 7:00, and Chthonic hit the stage at 7:30 on the dot, proceeding to pummel us all with 30 minutes of streamlined melodic black/death metal, augmented by oriental keyboard orchestrations and some righteous Taiwanese ire.

Oct 292013

In this post we bring you three globe-spanning videos that premiered either yesterday or today, with our performers hailing from the exotic locales of Ohio, Taiwan, Iceland, and Japan.

SKELETONWITCH

The lyrics to the title track from Serpents Unleashed tell you a lot about what you hear in the song: “Demonic, defiant, eyes of burning chaos / With darkness at our side / Evil at our command / Crush the weak and feeble, their place within the dust / Rain fire from the shadows / Striking hard and fast / Vomiting the blackest hate / The spawn of wickedness…”

The new video for the song strikes hard and fast, too. Rapidly strobing between shots as the band deliver the goods, the film makes effective use of light and shadow, slo-mo interludes, and split-screen views. Check it out next:

Aug 212013

Chthonic’s 2013 album Bú-Tik, garnered significant praise from our own Andy Synn when he reviewed the album in June, calling it the band’s “greatest attempt so far at speaking the universal, world language, of metal”. Yet with all of the band’s drawing together of diverse musical and cultural strands, he gave the track “Set Fire To The Island” as an example of “pure Chthonic majesty”, describing it as “a venomous mix of symphonic darkness and calculated wrath.”

Today the band released their official music video for that same song, the fourth video released so far from Bú-Tik. Unlike the three previous videos (all of which we’ve featured here), this one is a live performance, filmed at last year’s Mass Battle concert in Taiwan. According to bassist Doris Yeh (you see, I did have a reason for putting that photo up there!):

“This is the live video we shot when we first played the song. It’s the most exciting song to play off the entire album! It has now become a ‘tradition’ for the fans in Taiwan to come to our show with ghost money, they throw in the air to show respect and release all kinds of their emotions. When I see the ghost money thrown in the air, sometimes the scenery before my eyes seems like a dream.”

Watch the video after the jump. You’ll be glad you did. And if “ghost money” is a new term for you, as it was for me, you might try this.

Jun 112013

Within the last 24 hours two of our favorite bands have released new videos. Norway’s Extol have premiered a video for “A Gift Beyond Human Reach”, a song from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is due for release in a couple weeks (the album can be ordered here). It’s a cool song and a cool video to watch — a different kind of performance clip, as you’ll see.

And Taiwan’s Chthonic have released a third video in support of their new album, Bú-Tik, which will be released in North America via Spinefarm Records US digitally on June 18 and on CD June 25 (for pre-orders, go here). The new video is for “Supreme Pain For the Tyrant”. In teh words of the band: “Metalheads travel back in time to 1930s to disrupt a party between Nazis and KMT! Check out the incredible Martial arts, modern dance, debauchery, and Oriental Metal!!”

Both videos are definitely worth seeing and hearing, so go do that righty after the jump.

Jun 032013

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Taiwan’s Chthonic.)

Hail true believers!

One of the reasons I elected to review the new Chthonic album, apart from being a huge fan of the band already, was because they’re at such an interesting point in their career right now, one that’s ripe for (over)analysis.

Bear with me, as this might get a little intellectual.

Professor Edward Said was considered one of the founding members of the post-Colonial movement of political/social discourse. He was also responsible for the more specific theoretical approach/consideration of ‘Orientalism’. Now, in a nutshell this posited that Western understanding and concepts of Eastern culture would always be imprecise, due to the necessity of translation – not just verbal, but mental translation – of underlying concepts. It also stated that there’s an inherent reflexivity involved, since we (as Westerners) view and understand the East through reflections on, and comparisons with, ourselves and our own experiences.

Now, more relevantly, it also exposes (in theory at least) that attempts by Eastern culture to bridge this gap are just as hamstrung – they often end up using imagery/translations already established by the West, communicating with us using words/concepts we’ve created already, with all their inherent deficiencies and reliance on familiar, but imprecise, Western analogues.

So what exactly does all this pontificating have to do with Chthonic? Well, due to their current position in the metal world, they’re caught at very much of a crossroads between East and West, culturally, politically, and musically.

May 242013

Here are three new videos I spied this morning. All three are worth your time.

CHTHONIC

This morning, Taiwan’s Chthonic premiered yet another official video (here) for a song from their forthcoming album Bú-Tik. That album will be released by Spinefarm on May 29 in Taiwan and Japan, May 31 in Europe, June 3 in the UK, and June 18 in North America. The new song is “Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire”. According to the band, it tells a tale of pirates in East Asia during the Age Of Exploration (some of whom eventually settled along Taiwan’s western coast) who sought to overthrow both the Ming Empire of China and the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan.

You don’t get much of a sense about the song’s historical roots in the video. It was filmed in an outdoor swimming pool during an unexpected thunderstorm, and those shots are interspersed with comic-strip graphics. The music in the song itself doesn’t have as much of the ethnic flavor that I most enjoy in what Chthonic have done previously — it’s more of a straight-ahead, Scandinavian-styled melodeath romp. But hey, I’m entertained anyway.

Watch the video next.

May 072013

This morning, Taiwan’s Chthonic premiered their official video for “Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace”, the first single from their forthcoming album Bú-Tik. Man, is it a feast for the eyes. With very high-production values, it’s like some kind of cyber-legend, bursting with acrobatic martial artistry and fantastic settings, blending the past and the future.

Although the video is a high-budget fantasy, the Bú-Tik Palace is also intended to draw together historical connections important to Cthonic. According to the band, “The BuTik Palace in Puli was used as command headquarters by Japanese colonial government to repress a Seediq Aboriginal Uprising in Wushe in 1930. During the initial phase of the 228 Massacre in 1947, militiamen in Taiwan also used it as its command headquarters. The chants in the second half of the song are the names of all martyrs who sacrificed themselves in resistance against dictators and fought for independence.”

According to this interview with Doris Yeh, the song was also intended to draw together connections between the band’s three previous albums. Musically, it’s an electric piece of Scandinavian-style melodic death metal, but one in which traditional music and a traditional vertical fiddle eventually make their appearance. The song also features guest vocals by Mei-yun Tang, a famed Taiwanese opera singer.

Apr 022013

I didn’t have time to compile a daily round-up yesterday, so there’s a lot of shit to cram into this one. I’ll try to keep words to a minimum and let the music, the videos, and the imagery speak for themselves.

ITEM ONE: CHTHONIC

2011’s Takasago Army marked the time when I finally got into Taiwan’s Chthonic. It was interesting and multi-textured, in addition to kicking large amounts of ass. So I’m now quite interested in their next album, Bú-Tik, which will be released by Spinefarm this summer. Today, the sexy cover art was revealed. Apparently, nearly 100 people volunteered to be the model for it.

The album cover is eye-catching for sure, though it doesn’t exactly suggest that the new album will be devoted to history and tradition. Yet in this new interview the band’s eye-catching bassist Doris Yeh suggests that it will. I’m up for it.

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