Rating:
7.0
Chthonic - Mirror Of Retribution
10 August 2009


01. Autoscopy
02. Blooming Blades
03. Hearts Condemned
04. Venom In My Veins
05. The Aroused
06. Sing-Ling Temple
07. 1947
08. Forty Nine Theurgy Chains
09. Rise Of The Shadows
10. Bloody Waves Of Sorrow
11. Spell Of Setting Sun: Mirror Of Retribution
12. Unlimited Taiwan [bonus]


ChthoniCis approximately the Far East's version of Brit nasty, filthy, evil metallers Cradle Of Filth. And as their idols, the Taiwanese are an ever-changing band. While the brilliant Seediq Bale was a highly melodic, sorrowful search of mythical beauty mixed with the fury of a Chinese pagan storm, Mirror Of Retribution is a brutal meloblack album filled with raw riffs, bestial shrieks and uncontrollable blast beats. So, the essential question is: where is the symphonic black/folk band I loved so much? Where is the crystal clear production that made the erhu-keyboards combo send shivers down my spine? Where are Doris Yeh's soaring vocals that turned any bloody track into a sing-along? And what is this savage, raw, almost grindcore thing standing in its place? Let's face it: Mirror Of Retribution is ChthoniC's own version of Thornography.

ChthoniC display a capable, talented group of metal musicians on their latest album. The guitars are taken to a new level, but the keyboards are sacrificed, as well as the prominent place the erhu used to have. Dani Wang's drumming is still as fast and technical, and Freddy Lim's vocals are better than ever. He manages to sound like Dani Filth on more than one occasion, even though his high-pitched shrieks are not as well-controlled as Filth's. Those shrieks do get annoying though since three songs in a row open with a fifteen-second long "heeeee-yaaaaah"… Doris' backing vocals are only used on the title track and somehow, they don't sound quite as good as they used to be. So the guitars and vocals improved since last album, but the other instruments are missing and that's a shame.

The biggest problem with Mirror Of Retribution is that it doesn't have the Chinese feel previous albums had. ChthoniC's trademark is the erhu (eastern violin), but even though most songs feature a short violin passage, it's not sufficient to make the album sound oriental. Mirror Of Retribution could as well be some Norwegian band's work and sensibly sound the same.

Each song taken separately has catchy parts, passages you can attribute to some other band and a short folk or symphonic element that makes it different from the rest. But as a whole, the album is horribly repetitive and you always skip between the rare highlights. Personally, I consider "Blooming Blades", "The Aroused" and "Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains" to be those highlights, mainly because they have something unique, somewhere.
Seediq Bale was much more melodic than Mirror Of Retribution and the production was pure and glossy. ChthoniC newborn is much rawer and fits their new black metal sound, but the guitars are still clearly audible. This is not Gorgoroth, mind you; the production is more akin to Catamenia, for instance.

To conclude, Mirror Of Retribution is a brutal album that strays far from ChthoniC guiding line. The best elements of the band are put aside while once less-noticeable instruments are put in the front, all that being recorded in a rawer, more primitive-sounding production. Unfortunately, it results in a huge disappointment that lacks originality and is obviously intended to be an international breakout. Doesn't that remind you some Brit nasty, filthy, evil band?

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Chthonic
Album: Mirror Of Retribution


 


written by MétalNoir | 21.09.2009


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Paradox0 - 02.02.2010 at 20:36  
Good review and I agree on you with just about everything you said.
MétalNoir - 03.02.2010 at 00:01  
Written by Paradox0 on 02.02.2010 at 20:36

Good review and I agree on you with just about everything you said.

Thanks, I guess this is a good review, though I came to appreciate this album with time and 7 seems low... but I still consider my arguments accurate.
Koen Smits - 03.02.2010 at 00:03  
7 is fair enough for me. It's not the kind of album that I would play 2 times a day (even week)
Good review.
Gothichand - 22.06.2010 at 17:33  
I like you review.
About the "lack of Chinese feel" issue...it reminds me of something,
Something most people out of Taiwan don't know about Chthonic...
"Their music is pretty solid, and so is their extreme view of politic."
They stand for the absolute independence of Taiwan(it's a long story…very complicated), which in other words mean "getting rid of all Chinese relations"(which is ridiculous), you can see that they don't use the word erhu, because erhu is the CHINESE name for the instrument and they can't live with that. Also, they claim their music themes are base on Taiwan history &legend…etc, but it's really just their own version of the history, a lot of Taiwan people finds that distasteful.
MétalNoir - 24.06.2010 at 06:01  
Written by Gothichand on 22.06.2010 at 17:33

I like you review.
About the "lack of Chinese feel" issue...it reminds me of something,
Something most people out of Taiwan don't know about Chthonic...
"Their music is pretty solid, and so is their extreme view of politic."
They stand for the absolute independence of Taiwan(it's a long story…very complicated), which in other words mean "getting rid of all Chinese relations"(which is ridiculous), you can see that they don't use the word erhu, because erhu is the CHINESE name for the instrument and they can't live with that. Also, they claim their music themes are base on Taiwan history &legend…etc, but it's really just their own version of the history, a lot of Taiwan people finds that distasteful.


Thanks! And I'm aware of the band's politic views, Fredi Lim's in particular... But I think chinese folk music is much similar to taiwanese, and in fact Taiwan's status isn't very clear presently, as to know if it is or not part of China. After all, Taiwan's official name is "Republic of China" ever since the Kuomintang was forced out of continental China after Mao's military victory (I worked on the subject in college ). But in some way I understand how they feel, since Quebec has a similar issue with Canada.

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