Review: Chthonic – Bu Tik

Posted: January 8, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

I remember when I first became aware of Chthonic. I saw a review of their ‘Seediq Bale’ album years ago in a magazine and was like ‘symphonic black metal?’ ‘From Taiwan?’ What the fuck? So, being the hoarder of rare metal that I was, I was on the hunt. Since then, Chthonic have become much more well known in the Western metal hemisphere, without enschewing what made them great in the first place. Its good to know that those things can still happen.

I was a big fan of their previous release, ‘Takasago Army’, and so looked forward to ‘Bu Tik’ a lot. After a suitably Eastern intro, the record explodes into ‘Supreme Pain for the Tyrant’. First thing it brings to mind is a more focused Cradle of Filth, without all the additional gothic flourishes. It’s suitably harsh, symphonic elements enhancing rather than dominating the sound. Chthonic take this strong start and don’t let up for the rest of the record, sliding in where appropriate use of traditional Taiwanese instruments. ‘Sailing into the Sunset’s Fire’ is another monster, vicious black metal screams meet galloping leads and thunderous blasting. Fluid soloing is also a big plus for this track; its something black metal has not always used to the full potential, but Chthonic do it well.

‘Bu Tik’ is a solid reminder that Chthonic are one of the most reliable bands in their genre. They’ve not produced a bad album since bursting on the scene, and they have progressed naturally into their sound to a point where now each record has a unique yet recognisable sound. ‘Bu Tik’ stands up there with Fleshgod Apocalypse’s ‘Labyrinth’ as 2013’s best examples of how to use fucking symphonic elements properly. Two totally different styles, yet both aligned in their majestic use of strings, choral flourishes and in Chthonic’s case, ethnic instrumentation. ‘Rage Of My Sword’ starts somewhat delicately then turns into one of the band’s most aggressive tracks to date. But it is the closing (other than an outro) majesty and emotion of ‘Defenders of Bu Tik Palace’ that truly makes this record special; the collaboration of emotive symphony and aggressive black metal, flavoured with the bloodstained legacy of the land that spawned them.

‘Bu Tik’ is important as a record in 2013 for many reasons. It brings to light a world, a land that is alien to a lot of us, with conviction and passion. It emphasises that keyboards and strings can be as important a part of heavy metal as guitars and drums. But most of all, it is a great reminder of how fucking essential heavy metal can still be in this day and age. I love this record, and you should too.

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