The review I have done for 'Takasago Army' is my first review about an album from a Taiwaneseband. So before we talk about 'Takasago Army' I would like to know a bit more about the background of Chthonic. How is the metal scene in Taiwan? Are there many concerts and bands or is it very difficult to play some decent metal over there?
In 1996 when CHTHONIC was formed, there were rarely some international metal bands to come, and it's even very hard to find musicians to play extreme metal together. But now, it's much more developed and still developing. There are metal shows almost every week, and we got metal bands from different continents to play in Taiwan.
I also noticed that some of you are very active in a political sense. Chthonic seems to be supporting Taiwan Independence and the Democratic Progressive Party, and even self-determination movements in Tibet and Xinjiang. What should we know about this? And were can interested readers find more information about these topics?
Just like Finnish metal bands write Finnish folk metal, our songs tells Taiwanese stories and myths. They are not for any political party or movement. But of course, other than music, each of us has our own political views and values which are very similar with most of the people in the world. We support human rights, freedom, and all the peoples who are oppressed. If the readers want to know more about these values, they can check out Amnesty International's website. FYI, Freddy Lim, our vocalist is the Chairman of Amnesty International-Taiwan section now.
Another special item about Chthonic is the use of traditional Chinese music within the metal music and the use of some classical Chinese instruments as well. This gives the songs a different atmosphere. To me this sounds good, it's something else for a change, but aren't you afraid that people will think of this as a gimmick that in the end will loose its impact?
These instruments are very familiar for us, for all the eastern Asian includes Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian...etc. It's in our souls and very normal and natural for us to use them in our music no matter how the others think. We have started to use them since the very beginning of the band from the first album, and the fans just love it and keeps asking for more. I think we are rather afraid that we can't put them as more as the fans expect....:D
Some of your lyrics are in English, and some of them are in Taiwanese, or even in native Taiwanese. This makes it very hard for me to get a grip about the lyrics. So please explain why you do this and what the songs of Chthonic are about in general.
All our songs are about Taiwanese stories and myths, and some lyrics are just perfect with the original languages and it's too difficult for us to find the right words in English. Sorry for that, but it will be fun if some of the fans try to learn some Taiwanese, right?
Through the years things became better and better for Chthonic. In 2003 you won a big award in Taiwan. In 2007 you participated with the Ozzfest in America, and in 2008 you recorded an album in Hollywood with producer Rob Caggiano whom we know from Anthrax. How do you look back at these highlights? And what did the band learn from all these experiences?
There were definitely many interesting moments during these years, but it's very hard to say what we have learnt from each specific moment. As a whole, what we have learnt is that metal is a huge family that always welcome different members to join!
Now we move to 2011 and your new album 'Takasago Army'. If I have to explain your music to someone I would say that it sounds like something as Cradle Of Filth meets gothic metal meets folk metal. Would you agree? Or how would you describe it?
Your description is quite creative!! I think different person would describe in different way. We call ourselves Orient Metal, but if you want me to describe more details, I would say: Apocalypto meets Taiwanese Opera meets Kungfu Panda meets Metal.
On the cover of 'Takasago Army' I see a warrior who is cutting himself with a big Samurai sword. What is the story behind this?
Different Taiwanese tribes have different traditions. Some have marked tattoos on their faces to prove that they were true warriors. That's what the character is doing on the cover.
'Takasago Army' is your second album that will be released via Spinefarm Records. The album before this one, named 'Mirror Of Retribution' was your first Spinefarm release. How does this co- operation work out? Do you feel like you can spread your wings more and more around the world? And what are your goals for 'Takasago Army'?
After Ozzfest in 2007, we were discussing with some labels for our new album. At that time, Dante Bonutto from Spinefarm has shown his big interest in us, and we decided to work with him. So far, we have really enjoyed working with Spinefarm. They are great guys with passion on music. It's our honour to work with them and we believe that through their great works, there will be more people from around the world appreciate our kind of metal.
Chthonic uses corpse paint. But it is not just a gimmick. I understood that you all have a deeper meaning about the way you paint your faces. Is this correct? Can you please explain what it is that you want to express?
Actually, we don't call it corpse paint anymore for not misleading people to wrong direction. Our most updated make-up can be found here. You can see it's totally different from western thought of corpse paint. All these make-ups and masks were inspired from Taiwanese eight generals culture or aboriginal cultures.
Okay. This is it for me so far. I wish you all the best for 'Takasago Army' and the space here below is yours to leave us with some final words or a last comment.
If you don't know how to categorize our music, don't panic, just enjoy it!