Live at The House of Blues

Hollywood, California

May 13th, 2014

Review and Photos by Travis Baumann

Taiwanese Dark Metal masters, Chthonic return to North America, this time as one of the opening acts of the Paganfest trek.

I had always associated them primarily with Symphonic Black Metal or even Death Metal on previous tours so it initially took me aback to see them included on the Paganfest.

I then realised that I was too closely associating the Paganfest with just Scandinavian and Northern European Pagan and Folk histories. When I saw Chthonic last, one of the parts of their performance that stood out the most was the use of traditional folk instruments from ancient China so then it all clicked.

One of Chthonic's goals is to bridge history, mythology, and musical barriers to create a unique sound and mentality and the defintiely suceed there.

Utilzing the common heavy metal instruments in conjunction with keyboards for atmospheric and orchestra arrangements they also utilize a number of stringed and wind instruments of ages long gone. These add a folk flare as well elevate the songs with a sense of past and mystery.

They also use a lot of dark imagery and symbolism in their work so do border on Black Metal and other genres of music influenced by the darkside.

They opened the set with "Oceanquake", a powerful song that stirred up the mosh pit immediately. They followed this up with "Supreme Pain for the Tyrant".

They are also freedom fighters as well as musicians, the lead singer being the leader of the Taiwanese branch of Amnesty International. They have had to endure many instances of opression and had to fight to be able to play their music and for their fans to be able to listen to it freely.

Their songs lyrically move between folk inspired mythology based songs to heavy political anthems fighting against tyranny over the world but especially in their homeland of Taiwan and other areas close to their native country.

They played "Next Republic" which emphasizes this mentality of moving beyond opression and all people everywhere having their human rights protected and their freedoms upheld.

It definitely makes one think of how fortunate we are in this country to enjoy the things we love and sometimes take for granted.

The set continued with "Sail Into the Sunset's Fire" before moving to the historic tale told by "Defenders of BĂș-tik Palace".

Paganfest always packs a good number of bands onto one stage so there is a limited time for everyone to perform. Unfortunately this meant that their time was up so they gave us one more song, "Takao" before they left the stage.

Chthonic prove once again to be a dynamic stage presence with more than just a growled voice and heavy guitar. The oriental instruments add a great character to the band and their message is even bolder.

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