Chthonic – Bú-Tik
Release Date: June 2013
When I hear the words metal and Taiwan in the same sentence, I automatically think of the band Chthonic. Why? Well, really it comes down to that they are the only band I know of from Taiwan. They also play metal. Their 2011 effort, Takasago Army, really appealed to me with high energy and their stellar approach to their music. Bú-Tik is their latest studio effort that seeks to continue their sound and prove that they are still relevant to the scene with this being their seventh studio release.
When I first heard about the new album, I wasn’t too sure what to think, especially with the album artwork seeming over the top and the track they decided to release. I felt as though they were taking the route that many other bands do when they reach a certain level of fame and go some sugar-coated direction in their music style. However, reading more into what the album is all about and finally getting around to hearing it in it’s entirety, I can say that any previous feelings I had before don’t matter.
Bú-Tik takes a whole new approach when it comes to “symphonic metal”, especially within the vein of melodic death fused with some blackened moments. Chthonic have created quite the unique sound alongside all that mentioned above with the addition of the erhu in their music. 2011 marked the addition of quite a few more instruments as well, including the koto and shamisen alongside the Tibetan bells and shakuhachi and pgaki flutes. The bells don’t make much of an appearance on their latest work, but when they do they create a serene and almost separating feeling. The cultural additions aim to immediately grab you and they do the job well.
“Arising Armament” starts up the album with the aforementioned cultural instrumentals that does well with establishing a tone for the album. Soon the track begins to grow into a sort of epic piece, similar to what some folk metal bands do. However, I felt a different atmosphere, as Chthonic are known for their political stances and this serves to set the stage for how the album will play out in that aspect.
Kick it up a notch with the next track, “Supreme Pain For The Tyrant”, as Chthonic bring out the melodic death metal portion of their music accompanied by that “symphonic” charm. Freddy Lim kicks major ass in the vocal department, similar to the lows of Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder). These vocals are soon joined by some soothing female vocals of Jesse Liu and backing vocals of Doris Yeh. Considering this as the first full album track and taste to the record, I can say I’m pretty much already hooked at this point.
“Sail Into The Sunset’s Fire” is another strong addition, although on the surface it sounds somewhat similar to the previous. Digging deeper, you’ll find much more of that symphonic element making a presence here. Dani Wang’s drum work is amazingly energetic, destructive, and can be considered the main attraction.
“Rage of My Sword” is one of my favorite songs from this release. Although pretty consistent with the use of the same riffs, the symphonic backings along with the catchy chorus really stood out for me. “Rage of My Sword” has an outstandingly powerful anthem feel to it (as many of the other songs do) but the power behind this one should be noted.
“Between Silence and Death” shows off some of those black metal influences, almost as if they took some notes from the atmospheric black metal bands. I say this because of the blackened riffs they use in some parts of the song that come off as the soaring and bleak type. This little details can be easily overlooked in the scheme of things, but once you find them during your future listens, they really bring a new dimension.
Bú-Tik proves to be consistent throughout, which some albums tend to fail in that department. However, this could be considered a drawback as the songs can feel very similar if you don’t take the chance of delving into them further. The vocals end up staying pretty constant as well, which could be considered a negative, but the higher death vocals do their best to keep things interesting.
This record isn’t the most technical, nor is it something totally out of the ordinary or new, but the presentation and approach really grabs you. There are the usual heavy moments and catchy guitar works, but I think the overall message these guys are going for help them stand out ever so slightly among the mainstream crowd.
If you haven’t given these guys a listen yet, or not sure about their new album, give it a listen. It is definitely worth it and I could see this as another addition on my end of the year list. If not, it will definitely be mentioned. Bú-Tik is another strong addition to the band’s discography and they should be proud of that.
Doris Yeh recently made Metalholic’s Top Female Metal Bassists list.