11st October 2013 saw the return of Taiwanese Oriental Metal overlords ChthoniC back onto Singaporean soil for their Asia leg of their “Bu-Tik: Next Republic” tour. Despite this being my third time watching them play, the first was their 2010 “Mirror of Retribution” Singapore date and then at Jakarta’s Hammersonic Festival 2012, I was still indubitably excited for the live ChthoniC experience.
After a brief wait, the band ascended onto the stage at Best World Hall along with roars of approval and applause from the visibly eager crowd of 200-300. The night started off with “Oceanquake” from their “Takasago Army” album and instantaneously, handfuls of hell-notes were flung with abandon into the air and the crowd lapped forward in vigor. It did not take very long for the crowd to warm up to the music as I could observe many started to headbang from the get-go (and mine as well); an organic reaction to the beautiful alchemy of ChthoniC’s music helmed by Freddy and his henchmen (and 1 woman) – Jesse, Doris, Dani and CJ. Towards the end of their opening song, Freddy picked up the er-hu (an oriental bow and string instrument) creating the signature beautiful blend of hauntingly brutal wall of music that is uniquely ChthoniC’s.
Going straight into “Next Republic” from their latest studio offering “Bu-Tik”, the musical assault only went in the uphill direction, in which Jesse flawlessly and almost effortlessly displays his prowess with his electric guitar. Peppered alongside with Doris’ luscious thunderous basswork, relentless battery of drumming by Dani and CJ’s , ChthoniC continued to dish out “Takasago Army” album’s “Southern Cross” and “Rise of Shadows” from their “Mirror of Retribution” record. Not one moment was spared as the hell-notes were continuously thrown with indignant pleasure by the crowd. This continual bombardment of air-bourne hell-notes were punctuated with the sea of upraised fists and devil-horns, completed with synchronized passionate headbanging created a very surreal trademark experience that arguably could only be witnessed at ChthoniC’s gigs.
In a bid to catch some breathe in between of songs, Freddy bantered with the crowd in a mixture of English, Mandarin and Taiwanese (which could be seen as an original and purer derivative of the local dialect of Hokkien). Remarking to the crowd that he feels great to be able to sing the Taiwanese lyrics in Singapore due to the ubiquitous usage of the Hokkien dialect here, and that Singapore is one of the very few countries that allowed him that lingual liberty of singing in both English and Taiwanese. Do I feel privileged and secretly proud of the multilingualism of being a Singaporean at that point? I sure do! And so did the Singaporean crowd as they cheered with fervent approval.
The crowd was then treated to the live renditions of songs like “Supreme Pain for the Tyrant”, “Set Fire to the Island” from their latest album, and one of their more famous hits from the “Mirror of Retribution” album – “Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains”. With “Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains” as one of my personal favourites from their catalog, I think it is quite safe to say I have lost all my sense of inhibitions at this conjuncture. This continued into songs like “Unlimited Taiwan” and “Quell the Souls in Sing-Ling Temple”, the crowd swelled with ravenous delight with the triggering of a mosh pit.
To close the night of oriental metal perfection, “Takao” from their “Takasago Army” proved to push things up one more notch with the crowd launched into a massive sing-along amidst the ceaseless communal headbanging during the chorus, creating an aggressively sublime experience where the band, their distinct brand of music, the endless throwing of hell-notes and the crowd merged into one single entity that I could be called as “The ChthoniC Experience”.
Thank you, ChthoniC, for yet another memorable night of musical madness. Singapore is already awaiting for your return!