Album Review: Alien Avenge – Tonatiuh

Alien Avenge [Taiwan]
Tonatiuh
2010
Full Length
Independent
Melodic Death Metal
5.5/10

I’ll admit, I’m not familiar with the Taiwanese metal scene at all, with the only bands that I know being ChthoniC (who doesn’t know them anyway?), Anthelion and Solemn, and these bands play vastly different forms of metal. Alien Avenge falls into the melodic death metal band of the spectrum, and the only reason I got to know of the band is through the knowledge of Chthonic‘s band leader/bassist Doris’ guest spot on the album. With her recommendation and endorsement of the band, it can’t possibly go wrong, right?

Tonatiuh is the band’s debut full length album, after their 2008 self-titled EP. The band wastes no time as they begin their aural attack with Revenge War, as a melodic riff, backed by keyboards support the vocals of Wade, a deep and hollow sounding growl, at times pierced through by crazy screams at the background. The band also emphasises on the mood of the music, with the riffs on songs such as 入侵。崩壞 shifting from tension or anxiety into relief, yet having that sense of desolation in the way vocalist Wade growls out his lyrics, displaying the songwriting capabilities of the band. The initial sudden shift into a softer section, however, gave rise to an awkward moment, possibly causing some confusion to listeners, and this will not be the only such shift in tempo in this 10 minute epic track from the band, as the band constantly alternates between a full on death metal riff into soft, clean guitar sections. While it is on this track where the band displays their technical ability, such as the guitarists’ jazzy influences, it gets slightly draggy and leaves me wishing for it to end quickly towards the middle of the track. The song also ends via a fadeout, another personal pet peeve and a sure way to make me feel as if the band has run out of ideas as to how to end the track.

The interlude 081025 displays the classical influence with a short piano solo, a suitably placed break after the previous tiring 10 minute onslaught, and the band manages to salvage the situation through the nice transition between this song and the next, 鎮魂. Finally, it seems, the guitarists get to flaunt their shredding abilities through the instrumental section at the beginning of the song, but unfortunately it seems to be buried in the mix, and becomes barely audible among the chaos of the other instruments, even the rhythm guitar. Fortunately, the solo in the middle of the song makes up for it, with soaring notes that brings a sense of hope to the listener. The band provides yet another interlude after this track with Ice, this time with an acoustic guitar instrumental. Not complaining though, as it seems that the interludes are another means of members of Alien Avenge to flaunt their non-metal influences.

And finally, the track that I have been waiting for: Melting, featuring Doris Yeh (Chthonic). The starting riffs sound promising, and almost sounds like a heavier version of what could have come out of a Chthonic album, right down to the keyboards at the background. It’s the first time hearing Doris performing vocal duties, and it certainly is surprising with her crazed styled of screaming. Pleasant or otherwise, it is up to listeners to judge. In addition, the sudden dives into the clean guitar solos make the song sound almost as if it were played by a Japanese band (and I mean it in the best possible way). It sounds as if the presence of one of the figureheads in the Taiwanese metal scene has boosted the musical prowess of Alien Avenge, as Melting is one of the better songs on the record.

The band unleashes all their energy on the closing track, In Darkness and it is evident how much effort the band has put in, from Wade’s display of his entire range of vocals (even including what sounded like pig squeals), and the aggressive riffing, soloing and drumming. With 30 odd seconds before the end of the song, Alien Avenge tricks the listener with a sudden silence before breaking into the final moments of the album, catching the listener unaware and displaying the thought process that the band has put into the song.

Overall, while the keyboards do provide a nice mood for the music, they do get overpowering at times, threatening to drown out the other instruments, slightly affecting the enjoyability of the album. Another slight complaint would be the placement of a 9 minute track (at least twice as long as their other tracks) as the 2nd track on the album, which had the effect of leaving me slightly impatient halfway through.

Tonatiuh has been a slightly disappointing journey. However, the individual band members certainly have their own talents, as evident especially on the 3 interludes on the album, and I have certainly not struck Alien Avenge off my list of bands to watch out for yet.

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©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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