CHTHONIC have been working hard promoting their brand of “Orient metal” to the masses by touring the U.S. with SATYRICON, performing at select European festivals, and appearing in countless metal publications. Seediq Bale showed the band’s maturity in songwriting, and Mirror of Retribution broke the band into greater heights by showing that they can hang with the big boys. Takasago Army continues in the same vein, and the band delivers their best album to date.
Vocalist Freddy Lim has tightened up his vocals with more variation, using his deeper vocals on a more constant level, but his Dani Filth-like vocals still remain an integral part of his delivery. The production is excellent, and all the instruments blend in crisper and clearer than on the previous album. “Takao” and “Broken Jade” are the most listener friendly songs on Takasago Army, and not surprisingly, they are the best tracks on this disc, utilizing their entire repertoire with catchy vocal patterns, melodic hooks, and tasteful riffs. CHTHONIC’s unique element in the world of extreme metal, the er-hu, is still a prominent instrument, and provides a distinct Asian flavor, as heard on “Legend of the Seediq” and “Oceanquake.”
The riff master behind CHTHONIC, Jesse Liu, has improved his songwriting skills with each subsequent release, and his solos on “Southern Cross” and “Mahakala” make the album so soothing to the metal ears. Although this release is slightly less catchy than Mirror of Retribution, the band forges forward with a good product comparable to their Scandinavian folk metal counterparts.
CHTHONIC have found their niche within the extreme metal world by combining Swedish/Finnish riffs, CRADLE OF FILTH’s style, a splash of IRON MAIDEN, and Taiwanese based mythology/concepts all thrown in together. The band doesn’t offer new ideas or riffs that CRADLE hasn’t done already, but the album should appease their faithful fans worldwide, and the songs should go over very well in the live setting. (Spinefarm Records)