Battlefields Of Asura NAPALM Taiwanese warriors undergo an epic identity crisis
Metal has always seen itself as a rebellious counter-culture force, and in recent years the number of bands from every corner of the Earth using it as a platform to strive for change or even just stick the digit up by playing loud guitars in countries where it’s deemed illegal is something every metalhead can surely embrace. Few are as praised for this spirit than Chthonic, who have long been acclaimed for more than just their musical accomplishments given their activism in their native Taiwan, and it’s impressive we’ve only had to wait five years for a new album given frontman Freddy Lim’s position as a legistator in the country’s government.
It’s clear that the band’s colossal-sounding eighth effort is no mere side-project. heavily utilising the symphonic elements that came to the fore on 2013’s award-winning Bú-Tik album, Battlefields Of Asura could easily duke it out with the European heavyweights for the title of most epic and opulent album of 2018. With only Freddy’s severe vocals remaining from their extreme beginnings, it’s a sound that fits the lyrical aesthetic, drawing on mythical stories to explore themes of resistance and modern Taiwanese politics. however, it takes until the cinematic scope of the fourth track, A Crimson Sky’s Command, for the dramatic wall of sound to have the desired impact, with subtle Eastern motifs that have long been their hallmark. Taste The Black Tears towers, with Jesse Liu’s regal guitar lines winning the duel for prominence over the soaring strings and horns, while the melodeath riffs and choral bombast of One Thousand Eyes and Carved In Bloodstone send the album hurtling towards the majestic fury of the finale, Millenia’s Faith Undone. As with the best of symphonic metal, Battlefields Of Asura conjures a tremendous spectacle, but it’s one that slightly loses what made Chthonic so unique in the first place.
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Chthonic: Taipei personalities