Chthonic - Mirror Of Retribution review
|Album:||Mirror Of Retribution|
|Release date:||August 2009|
02. Blooming Blades
03. Hearts Condemned
04. Venom In My Veins
05. The Aroused
06. Sing-Ling Temple
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?
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