Chthonic
Bú-Tik

The leaders of the entire Taiwanese metal scene, Chthonic has always been a band that has been both loved and criticized. On one hand, they’ve enjoyed an ever-growing fanbase for their style of symphonic black metal and sweeping atmospheres. On the other hand, they’ve always been labeled a cheap Cradle of Filth knockoff, one that had it not been for the British pioneers, Chthonic would never have existed.

The Cradle of Filth comparisons have always been legitimate because unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 20 years, nobody can make a claim to the contrary. However, over the years Chthonic have grown leaps and bounds as musicians and have made a habit of unleashing glorious albums throughout the years. The band continues to get better and better with each passing release (for the most part) and it’s safe to say that with Bú-Tik, Chthonic has reached their creative zenith.

Their seventh full-length release, Bú-Tik is a dynamic listen from start to finish. Chthonic has maintained their heavily-influenced-by-Cradle-of-Filth sound but they’ve incorporated so many newer elements to their sound that is almost wholly unique, one that is essentially their own. There are the typical vicious black metal riffs and blasts, but Chthonic has also added even more of a thrashy sound to their structures, much more so than on previous releases.

But what has always made Chthonic stand way out in front of their brethren is that they’ve always incorporated plenty of Asian/Eastern folk influences into their songs. Keyboards and the erhu have always played a major part in their art, but sometimes the folk instruments and passages tended to sound a little tacked on or forced into the songs. On Bú-Tik, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything ebbs and flows smoothly and their transitions from sheer savagery to beautiful, dramatic orchestrations are seamless and organic. And unlike in the past, Doris Yeh’s voice isn’t thrown into the mix for what seems like necessity; on Bú-Tik her vocals are placed within each song with such ease it’s almost as if the songs were written around them.

While every song on Bú-Tik is powerful, “Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire” and “Rage of My Sword” are the absolute highlights, each demonstrating how far Chthonic has come as musicians, artists and visionaries. The former kicks off with a more modern Iron Maiden riff, but it quickly switches to a catchy, monster of a thrasher before expertly transforming into a mix of majestic, sweeping black metal. But the latter is without question the keystone of the entire album. A song loaded with ferocious and complex drumming, thrashy black riffs and an underlying atmosphere of both torment and triumph, “Rage of My Sword” is among the finest tracks that Chthonic has ever recorded.

Production-wise, Bú-Tik hits all the right spots and brings every instrument to the forefront when it needs to. While the drums aren’t quite as thunderous as they probably could/should be, they are powerful enough on all fronts. The guitars have that abrasive, blackish tinge to them but they are also polished just enough where it’s not a swirling mess of noise. Bú-Tik is a very clean sounding album, but it thankfully is raw enough to sound fierce; the music hasn’t lost any of its bite whatsoever in the final mix.

Though Bú-Tik is not a perfect album (some of the riffs in “Between Silence and Death” and “Set Fire to the Island” are a bit too metalcore-ish for these tastes), it’s easily the best collection of songs that Chthonic has ever created. It’s a pleasure to listen to each time out and it never grows stale at any point. Chthonic got in, got it done, and got out before they could add any unnecessary tracks, something more bands need to do. Bú-Tik ends before you know it and before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve already hit the “repeat” button to spin it again.

Chthonic has been slowly emerging from out behind Cradle of Filth’s shadows for years and with Bú-Tik, it’s safe to say that they now have their own sound. So, instead of hearing them and saying, “Ah, this sounds just like Cradle…” more people will hopefully be hearing other bands and saying, “Ah, this sounds just like Chthonic…” Yeah, Bú-Tik is that good.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
October 11th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    This band has been on my radar for years but has never clicked for me, despite my love of all things symphonic and black and metally. This one is very good though, been spinning it all week. Better than the last Cradle too – better hooks, more original atmosphere and character. Worth digging into the back catalogue again, I think. Great writeup and thanks for the re-introduction!


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