Chthonic A Decade on the Throne

If you’ve only heard of ChthoniC since their addition to this year’s Ozzfest line-up, you might be tempted to write them off as a gimmick band capitalising on the recent trendiness of several goth and black metal acts. A Decade on the Throne — a live recording of the band’s tenth anniversary concert in Taipei, Taiwan — might change your mind. Elaborate make-up, decorative costumes and stage theatrics abound, providing a rich spectacle. That and the high-pitched female background vocals (including a small choir) lend the performance a Cradle of Filth-ish atmosphere but there’s much more going on. The extreme metal blends with traditional Taiwanese sounds, from the two-stringed violin within the group’s core to the chamber ensemble providing an instrumental backdrop. Even the band’s corpse paint draws upon Taiwanese folklore. The songs are sometimes threatening, sometimes haunting, ferocious and chaotic one minute, melodic and crooning the next. Thematically, ChthoniC draw upon mythology, history and politics to make some profound statements, but if the literal meaning is lost it’s not just because of the blackened vocal shrieks — everything is in Taiwanese. While completely unintelligible, the packaging is lovely. Throughout the performance, ChthoniC come across as a whole package, a musical and theatrical phenomenon, and never merely another ordinary band. (SPV)