Chthonic Bú-Tik

Though melodic, blackened death metal band Chthonic hail from Taiwan, their moniker is actually Greek in origin (it's a work that designates or pertains to deities or spirits of the underworld). With all of their recorded efforts, especially most recent release Bú-Tik, Chthonic merge the aesthetics of Eastern and Western culture, creating a sound that draws upon both Taiwanese folk instrumentation and song structures, as well as the European tradition of blackened and symphonic metal. The galloping, martial drumming keeps the pace of the record high and urgent, propelling the listener through the decadent narrative. Bú-Tik is dense without being unnecessarily intricate, the folk instrumentation sometimes taking the lead in spare moments of minimalism, but also employed liberally throughout the more aggressive and fully orchestral passages for additional flourishes. The use of the erhu is wonderfully executed, creating lovely windows of plaintive beauty in the otherwise bloody musical landscape. On the grandest, most cinematic tracks, such as "Supreme Pain for the Tyrant" and "Defenders of Bu-Tik Palace," it's easy to imagine the record serving as the soundtrack to a film full of wire fighting. (Spinefarm)