• Transformation and reinvention of Chthonic's hits - A review of 閃靈 / Chthonic's ''失竊千年 / Timeless Sentence''

    閃靈 / Chthonic - 失竊千年 / Timeless Sentence (2015)

    ''失竊千年 / Timeless Sentence'' is a very unusual release for Taiwanese melodic black metal band Chthonic. The band re-recorded its greatest hits from the past two decades as acoustic versions that are quite different from the original tunes. Harmonious acoustic bass and guitars, smooth and percussive drum patterns and almost exclusively male clean vocals meet Eastern Asian folk instruments such as erhu, occasional symphonic samples and many backing vocals in harmonious choruses. The eleven songs are very appeasing, harmonious and inspired. They prove that the band has a very detailed, intellectual and rich song writing. In addition to the emotionally and intellectually appeasing music, the band's lyrics are also very inspiring and deal with both historic and contemporary issues related to their country. While almost all lyrics are sung in Chinese on this release, there is one short part in the longing yet optimistic ''Supreme Pain for the Tyrant'' that is sung in English that represents the spirit and message of the band very well: ''Let me stand up like a Taiwanese, only justice will bring you peace!''

    As if this charming transformation and reinvention wasn't enough, several songs include a multitude of clever ideas. One example is the surprising use of English lyrics towards the end of ''Supreme Pain for the Tyrant''. The epic ''Broken Jade'' convinces with a great combination of lower and appeasing vocals on one side and higher and uplifting vocals on the other side. Another excellent idea is the use of haunting piano sounds and multiple vocal efforts in the epic conclusion of the profound ''Takao'' which is maybe this record's masterpiece among exclusively outstanding songs.The melancholic ''Kaoru'' is the second best song on this output and almost sounds like a country ballad featuring harmonica sounds and female guest vocals. The combination of harmonious male lead and passionate female back vocals works extremely well in this record's longest tune ''Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace''. The short transitional tune ''Between Silence and Death'' almost sounds like an Asian version of a Mike Oldfield song thanks to an inspired acoustic guitar play. The other short short tune and closing track ''Sail into the Sunset's Fire'' sounds like a drinking song around a campfire with atmospheric sound samples of a crowd that is laughing and singing along. This song could come straight from a scene in a tavern taken from a charming wuxia movie of the eighties.

    In my opinion, this album is the greatest record Chthonic has ever done because it's so different, emotional and exotic. It's absolutely worth to pay a higher import price for this gem that even comes along with an additional DVD. If you like dynamic Eastern Asian folk music with inspired lyrics, then this is one of the very best folk albums ever released. You might also admire this album if you like bands that are able to completely transform or even reinvent their songs or if you are just curious to know what Chthonic might sound like in a completely different context than usually. If you are however expecting an extreme metal album or anything related to heavier music, this record is definitely not made for you.

    Final rating: 99%

    « ''Risky reorientation'' - A review of 海市蜃楼 / Mirage's ''湖光山色 / Lake''Tokyo Zankoku Keisatsu / Tokyo Gore Police (2008) - More than gore - 7/10 (01/07/16) »
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