Its been nearly 10 years since ChthoniC last performed in Singapore back in 2000 for the touring of the 9th Empyrean album, and in 14 August 2010, there they are, standing in front of us. With the release of their latest album, “Mirror Of Retribution” back in 2009 through their new label Spinefarm Records, ChthoniC have been constantly touring over in US and UK, with massive promotion from their label, making this album one of the highest selling album for ChthoniC, as told by them.
Formed in 1995 by lead vocalist Freddy Lim, ChthoniC was the first ever extreme metal band to emerge from Taiwan. Using Taiwanese mythology as the band’s lyrical concept, they have manage to put out 5 full-length albums throughout their 15-year career.
The venue door was opened at around 7.40pm due to some delays, and without hesitating we managed to get in up-front near the stage. At 8.15pm, Singapore’s very own veteran gothic metal band Meltgsnow crushed upon the stage with the intro “Through The Ashes Of Providence” from their new album “Black Penance”. Dannie Aka Lord Insanity emerged to the front, with the starting song “Devils Mind Ride” proving that the band is still well-known for their crazy stage presence.
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Throughout their set, Lord Insanity constantly engaged with the crowd, with selected songs from their latest album Black Penance like “Death Takes My Soul” and “Greed for Insanity” from their debut Insanity.
After the brief 35 min set from Meltgsnow, the crowd was eagerly waiting for the headlining band ChthoniC. At around 8.40pm, the band began with an intro which resembled the one on their live DVD Decade on the Throne, massive cheers and chanting were shouted across the venue. The atmosphere was aptly set for the rest of the evening – dark and sinister.
With the first track of the concert – “Rise Of Shadows”, oriental hellnotes were seen flung towards the stage. A unique brand of frenzied cacophony sounded throughout the venue in unrepentant decibels, with Freddy taking the task of vocals, Doris on bass, Jessie working the guitar and Dani hammering the drums ferociously. It was indeed a sight to behold with copious quantities of oriental hellnotes strewn around the stage coupled with such music and the very fact that it was the Seventh Lunar Month of Hungry Ghosts (for Westerners, it is a month where ghosts from the underworld are released to earth to roam for a month). The 2 members lacking in tonight’s lineup were Su-Nung (who left for academic purposes) and CJ (who is currently serving Taiwan’s army; his keyboard parts were then sampled and played out via a computer).
Blended tightly right after “Rise of Shadows” was a song off their previous studio effort “Bloody Gaya Fulfilled” from “Seediq Bale”. A personal favourite of yours truly. Here, Freddy, takes on the role of his ex-band mate (Su-Nung), wielding his red er-hu with immaculate grace, complementing the thick and rich aural opus of blastbeats and sweeping guitar work, creating a sound that is so distinctively ChthoniC. Rest assured the crowd was already been warmed up and many necks have gained the momentum in headbanging.
“Forty Nine Theurgy Chains” followed suit, being the most favored single off their latest album “Mirror Of Retribution” saw the sight of many audience members singing along with Freddy. Imageries from their music video flashed intermittently throughout this song for me as I questioned my empirical experience, “Is this for real?” It was too surreal in a positive manner.
In a bid to catch their breath, Freddy interacted with the audience by commenting “By tonight’s response, my pre-conceived notion of ‘Metal is dead here in Singapore’ has been completely refuted!” This drawn the roaring approval from the pit. He further said that in their American concerts where his attempts to teach Americans how to speak Taiwanese (or, similarly, a dialect called Hokkein here in Singapore) were quite futile and hilarious. Freddy then guided us to shout in unison “Screw/Fuck your mother” in Taiwanese, in which we did relatively well to gander Freddy’s compliment. That was fun.
The show continued with songs like “Blooming Blades” and “Relentless Recurrence” in the first half installment of their offering, each providing various auditory climaxes. When the band members left the stage abruptly, the crowd knew this couldn’t and mustn’t be the end of the evening and immediately started to summon the band’s presence back onstage by shouting “Shan-Ling” repetitively.
The crowd did not take long for the band’s re-entrance for the second half of the evening where they tore the stage with their inspired musical virtuosity and renewed fervent vigor. Flawlessly, with seasoned ease, the band effortlessly delivered many more songs off their latest album, namely the title track, “Sing-Ling Temple”, “Bloody Waves of Sorrow”. The sheer multitude and amplitude of the aural sensibilities pushed the crowd off their normal faculties, when the band left the stage again, as if playing a seemingly cruel game.
The crowd once again summoned the band back, in which Freddy replied “It isn’t that simple. We are not done yet.” This brought a wave of relief and satisfaction when the band offered a final opus – “Quasi Putrefaction”. A staple ChthoniC song and an instant favourite. Personally, I couldn’t believe my ears. This is a song I have been obsessed over for 4 years; to finally witness it live was momentous. Unfortunately, their Singapore concert had no choir singers in turn decreased the overall haunting effects of this beautiful beast of a song. Remarks aside, sure enough, the crowd has gone absolutely mad at this juncture as the song continued exponentially to pure brilliance with the help of Jessie’s guitarwork, creating a lasting memory and experience that will linger in the recesses of the crowd present on the night of 14th August 2010.
Thank you, ChthoniC. Thank you, Mourning Sound.
Pictures courtesy of Kianyong Tan.