Taiwan's CHTHONIC: Expressing Traditional Melodies In Heavy Metal Way

October 12, 2013

Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with bassist Doris Yeh of Taiwanese metallers CHTHONIC. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Assault: Your new album ["Bú-tik"] came out recently. How would you explain the sound? I think it's more oriental. Do you agree with that?

Doris: Yeah, the procedure or writing songs for the new album was different than our former albums. In the former albums, we were writing songs in heavy metal music, of course, but we were thinking about how to put the traditional melody into the music. In the new album, we did it the opposite way. We wrote the Taiwanese traditional melodies first and then used the heavy metal way to express it. So the new album has more traditional melody in it, and the concept behind the story is different from our former albums. It's more aggressive. The tempo, the riffs and the structures of the songs are more aggressive, so that's the difference in this album.

Metal Assault: Your lyrics and the concept is still based on Taiwanese history, but I guess the music kind of suits the story more because its aggressive and the story is also about massacre and violence.

Doris: Definitely, because this album is talking about different violent scenes which happened in our history in the past 200 years. Each song is about a violent scene, so that's why the music is aggressive and more powerful.

Metal Assault: And as you said, you've expressed it in a heavy metal way, so your fans would still receive it as a metal album. In the end, you're still a metal band.

Doris: Yeah, actually, we came up with the traditional melody in the chorus part, not the whole song, of course. [laughs] And then we tried to extend the whole structure of the songs, and the guitarist put more mellow riffs and tempo into the music. So, there's no conflicts and for us; it's very natural to do this, because I think while we're getting older and older year by year, we feel that we're closer to our roots and to our own culture. So it's natural for us to come out with this kind of a traditional melody, but we still love heavy metal a lot, so how to combine them and maintain the balance, that's the difficult job for us. I think in this new album we made a new achievement and combined those two different things perfectly, in our opinion at least.

Metal Assault: You've also been doing a series of music videos to tell the story in a visual way along with the music. Can we expect videos for all the songs on the album?

Doris: So far we've released three music videos already (at the time of the interview),and one of them is for the song "Defenders Of Bú-tik Palace", and for that we're not just playing music but playing Kung-Fu as well. [laughs] We did martial arts training for two months and in the video we are the defenders trying to fight against the intruder from outside. It kind of symbolizes the history of our country. The second video is "Sail Into The Sunset's Fire", and that video is interesting because we shot it in a swimming pool and that song was talking about the parent generation 200 years ago. We were suffering from a rainstorm during the shooting of the video, but the outcome was good. [laughs] And the third video is for "Supreme Pain For The Tyrant", and that was directed by a movie director, and we act like five assassins who want to kill the leader of the KMT party, which is the party who rules Taiwan now and also escaped from China 60 years ago. So we kind of recreated this part of the true history. In this video, we combine not only martial arts because we have to fight the enemy and the securities around the leader of the party, but we also have a lot of dancing. We worked with a very well-known international dancing choreographer and that's the first time we worked with those martial arts and dance groups. So those three music videos took so much time, energy and budget [laughs], I hope all the people and fans will check it out.

Read the entire interview from Metal Assault.

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