Chthonic // Bú-Tik
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Toss me an anchor why don’t you!
Label: Spinefarm Records
Websites: facebook.com/chthonictw | myspace.com/chthonictw
Release Dates: EU: 2013.05.31 | US: 06.25.2013

Chthonic-Bu_Tik_1500While first wetting my feet with black metal I came across Chthonic‘s 9th Empyrean, Relentless Recurrence and Seediq Bale albums. I felt a distinct pull towards their use of traditional instruments, their dramatic, aggressive, melodic sound and their bleak, nihilistic undercurrent and for a fair while their screams gripped my attention. Eventually though I felt the inevitable allure for darker and uglier and sank deeper and deeper into the blackness, discovering Nattefrost, ShiningMarduk, and I just forgot about Chthonic, missing out their whole Takasago Army era. I’ve been putting this review off for that very reason; it’s allowed me to spend some time rediscovering an old, long-forgotten friend…

For those not familiar with Taiwanese Chthonic and their oriental metals, they bear some subtle resemblance to bands like Dutch Carach Angren and Japanese Sigh. Chthonic focus on using  influence from traditional Taiwanese music along with electrifying symphonic soundscapes and lush, thick, melodic sounding instrumentation, that’s very accessible to the ear, moving away from sounding like traditional, icy black metal. I say symphonic, but I use this term loosely. You’re not going to find operatic vocals or orchestral instruments as such, rather Chthonic make use of traditional oriental instruments like the er-hu (closely resembling a western violin), the zheng (box zither) and the pgaku flute to create layers and mournful textures of grief and sorrow in contrast with their drum demolition and mighty, powerhouse shrieks and growls.

Bú-Tik comfortably and deliberately follows on from 2011 release Takasago Army, keeping up with ‘the idea of an armed body and mind’. Where the two albums diverge is in that Bú-Tik feels more liquid, flowing as a single, watery body from one track to the next without any real definition. Bú-Tik opens and closes with a two-part instrumental track that has an almost Turisas sound and feel and “Arising Armament” well arms you for the near battle metal assault making up the rest of the album.

Chthonic_photoDani, Azathothian Hands takes care of the drum decimation, pulling out all the stops on tracks like “Sail into the Sunset’s Fire”, “Rage of my Sword” and “Resurrection Pyre”, punishing the listener with a steady flow of fiery blast beats, interwoven with magnetic fills. The lead vocal styling’s of Freddy, Left Face of Maradou and the backing vocals of Jesse, the Infernal and Doris, Thunder Tears and their crew of extras, duel for your attention [Musically AND on the LARPing circuitSteel Druhm1]. Tracks like “Between Silence and Death” and “Rage of my Sword” stand out for their stinging screams that lash out whip-like, in sharp contrast to the beastly growls on “Sail into the Sunset’s Fire”. The large majority of the tracks on Bú-Tik follow the tried and tested formula of melodic introduction, with mounting aggression the further you dig. And for the most part I enjoyed this combative approach. What I found disappointing was that the drums and vocals are so in your face that at times you’re too distracted to truly appreciate Jesse, the Infernal’s skillful, sometimes pensive, sometimes animated riffing.

Despite being so melodic, I found Bú-Tik more difficult to get into than Chthonic‘s older albums. The instrumentation is top notch, along with the vocal delivery, but Bú-Tik feels too much like a polished and honed Takasago Army and there’s nothing new here. Yes, I get that Chthonic claim to have settled into their sound and to have grown more comfortable in their song creation process, but with a lack of definite anchor tracks to draw you back coupled with material that mostly sounds like their previous release is a real momentum killer. I don’t feel great compulsion to march on and add Bú-Tik to my playlist.

Show 1 footnote

  1. I always thought it was fucking hilarious that these guys took the names “Dani,” “Freddy,” and “Doris.” Scandinavian black metal took the names of Gods and monsters, and Taiwanese black metal—well, that’s how they started anyway—took American names from 1943. – AMG
Share →
  • Madam X, while I liked your review and agree with the majority of what you said, I implore you to find one person on this planet that is actually of the opinion that this record deserved a lower score than Illnath’s 4 Shades of Me. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about this horrific conundrum. Please bump this to a 3/5 so I can sleep at night. Thx

    • We don’t bump scores up. All scores are final.

      • Eryops

        What if I throw in … this shiny penny?

        • NOW we’re talking! Because we eschew advertising at AMG, we’re particularly vulnerable to bribery and graft.

    • Madam__X

      I totally hear your plea… Bú-Tik is a solid 2.5 though, 4 Shades of Me wore on me a little more.

  • OzanCan

    Is it really that bad? Bad is a strong word here, but I mean 2.5? Really? :(

    • A 2.5 here is OK, nothing special, not bad. Bad is a 2.0 and below.

      • OzanCan

        I know what is 2.5, it just…I was expecting a higher score, that’s why :)

        • Madam__X

          I expected to be able to give it a higher score myself. Not sure what’s going on with 2013… every time we expect something good to come along it ends up falling flat. It’s been the dark horses that have held the most appeal so far :)

    • Madam__X

      Yip, 2.5 it is, middle of the road stuff… not great, but not bad.

  • Leroy

    WOW AMG, I’m not going to dispute the score, but I do expect better from you than that footnote. Would you rather they didn’t provide an English moniker so that you and Madam X would make idiots of yourselves trying to identify them with Chinese characters? Cos let’s face it, Pest, B-force, Nocturno Culto, and ICS Vortex are just ever more credible examples of Swedes/Nords using anglicised names…

    • Is your sense of humor malfunctioning?

      • Leroy

        Yes and no. Put it this way, Druhm, it would be like me asking AMG for his Swedish (I assume) name, and then saying “ha, in English that sounds gay” (Dani, Doris, Freddy, are the English monikers they go by in real life, not just for the band ala Dani Filth). I’m more concerned that this comment wouldn’t have been made if it were a ‘western band’ (eg. I don’t recall you guys ridiculing ‘Trevor’ from Black Dahlia for his old fashioned name)…

        I only make this observation, because I generally hold the two of you in high esteem =S

        • I think AMG just meant it was tongue-in-cheek compared to taking bad ass names like Fenris etc. etc.

          • Eryops

            I think using the words “fucking hilarious” skews the connotations. On my first reading it also said “fucking idiots.” Oh these sensitive internets…

          • You P.C. thugs!!! Get off my lawn and this angry website!!

  • Kreegwaldo

    As someone who has never even heard of or listened to these guys before, I would flat out give this album at least a 4 if not a 4.5. It’s fantastic!

    I know reviewing is almost entirely subjective but from reading the above it looks like the only real reason it wasn’t rated higher was because it wasn’t much of a departure from the last album. So why rate an album based on the last album? Note it sure, but it shouldn’t negatively affect the score. Why not rate it for what it is, as a stand-alone music piece? By not doing so, you entirely disregard people who haven’t been exposed to it before and possibly do a disservice to the band as well.

    Maybe it’s just the way it was written, and it was more intended as a footnote, but it hardly seems like something to affect the review score ( for better or worse ).

    • Madam__X

      Glad to hear Chthonic have a new fan, they’re a good band and they’ve put out some great stuff :)

      Check out some of their earlier work if you get a chance – the albums I mention early in the review rock muchly.

      At AMG we review releases based on the bands discography as a whole or as far as that’s possible. Looking at where Chthonic’s come from and where they’re headed to, for myself personally it feels a little disappointing – I guess I’m just a fan of their earlier work it felt more varied and less samey… which is where I feel they’re headed now.

    • Madam__X

      Glad to hear Chthonic have a new fan, they’re a good band and they’ve put out some great stuff :)

      Check out some of their earlier work if you get a chance – the albums I mention early in the review rock muchly.

      At AMG we review releases based on the bands discography as a whole or as far as that’s possible. Looking at where Chthonic’s come from and where they’re headed to, for myself personally it feels a little disappointing – I guess I’m just a fan of their earlier work it felt more varied and less samey… which is where I feel they’re headed now.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Madam_x is a tough mistress. it deserves a 3 at least and i’ve only listened once. im sure when i go back ill hear new things.

    • Madam__X

      I am indeed ;) Glad you’re enjoying what you’re hearing.