Chthonic – Takassago Army

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: August 7, 2011

Metal from Asia, it has a certain exotic ring to it. Chthonic from Taiwan made quite an impression with their Mirror Of Retribution (2009), although aquisitions of being a mere Cradle Of Filth clone were never far away. The latest releases by these Asians, entitled Takassago Army, has the potential of being the catalyst for their major breakthrough, if they manage to play their carts right..

Takassago Army is a concept albums of sorts. The main subject are the tales about the fearsome reputation of mountain tribes from Tawain who were specially recruited by the Japanese imperial army in the Second World War to fight for them. This album is also a departure from what Chthonic has done on their previous albums. The symphonic black metal of Mirror Of Retribution is greatly reduced in favour for a heavier direction with a bigger emphasis on ethnic elements. A prudent descision, because it gives Takassago Army a very original twist.

It also takes care of all the persistent resemblances with Cradle Of Filfth. Another positive thing of this album is the imaginative and tight songwriting. Takao, Oceanquake, Southern Cross and Broken Jade are keen examples of this. The extensive use of ethnic instruments and massive choirs enhances the folk metal element, but it’s done with dignity and taste. This prevents Chthonic from becoming a parody, something which plagues bands like Turisas, Korpiklaani and Tyr. The ferocious vocal style by Fred Lim and the occasional clean vocals by bass player Dorus Yeh adds a lot of varition to the album . The tasteful guitar solos give Takassago Army some additional grandeur. Kaoru and Mahakala are also clear examples of the musical prowess of these Tawainese metallers.

The modern and powerful production enhances the accessiblity of Takassago Army, which is necessarily not a bad thing. It gives the album also a lot of extra drive and agression.

Takassago Army is a very fresh, original and cohesive release. The songs are tight and imaginitave and the production is the best Chthonic ever had. I got a feeling this album album will turn a lot of (metal)heads in a very positive way…

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