With the band now touring as part of the Ozzfest line-up, as well as off-dates with Nile & Daath, the Taiwanese symphonic black metal machine known as Chthonic is slowly starting to make waves here in the US. Relentless Recurrence was originally released in 2002 and was the band's debut, now being re-released for US consumption and housed in a splendid digipack with a nice foldout booklet (containing lyrics), and a slew of imagery cards with Japanese lyrics printed on the back. The music is not as mature and polished as on their most recent release Seediq Bale, but is still prime symphonic black metal that should really be of interest to lovers of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and Bal-Sagoth.
Production wise, things are a little more raw here than on Seediq Bale, with the guitars of Jesse super crunchy and upfront in the mix, as is the keyboard attack from Vivien, which really gives the music its orchestral flavor. However, one thing that differentiates Chthonic from other bands in the black metal spectrum is the use of the erhu, an Asian version of the violin, which adds a weepy sort of classical bent to these songs, and mixed with the growling male & ethereal female vocals, gives much of Relentless Recurrence a very majestic feel despite the heavy nature of each piece. A tune like "Vengeance Arise", as punishingly heavy as it is, still has that aura of sophistication around it, and "Slaughter In Tri-Territory" does what Cradle of Filth did so well earlier in their career, which is mix gothic styled melodrama with raging, venemous black metal. Here, Freddy's evil screams mesh with huge walls of symphonic keyboards, brutal guitar riffing, and manic blast beats, as the song drifts from creepy atmospheric sections to sledgehammer black metal thunder. Another standout here is the near 9 minute "Grievance, Acheron Poem", a raging, boiling couldron of frenzied male screams and spoken female vocals, supplemented by some of the heaviest riffs on the album and schitzophrenic keyboard layers.
With Chthonic's catalog now being made available to metal fans outside of Taiwan, it's only a matter of time before their brand of symphonic extreme metal really takes off. Check them out and experience the buzz.
1. Nemesis 2:40
2. Onset Of Tragedy 6:32
3. Obituary tuning 3:07
4. Grievance, Acheron Poem 8:35
5. Revert To Mortal Territory 3:42
6. Funest Demon Born 2:25
7. Vengeance Arise 4:30
8. Slaughter In Tri-Territory 8:07
9. Grab The Soul To Hell 7:02
10. Relentless Recurrence (hidden track) 8:00