Wow. That was my reaction, when I opened the Deathlight Records package containing the albums “Relentless Occurrence” and “A Decade On The Throne Live” by Taiwanese Black Metallers CHTHONIC, because the sheer deluxe-ness of the DigiPak is just mind-blowing, with multiple foldouts, parchment like paper and several photo cards, that is a real eye-catcher (and yet nothing compared to the sheer grandeur of “A Decade On The Throne Live”, but more on that one in the respective review)! But – and that was my main fear – is this meant to distract from potentially lacking musical depth?
Thankfully that is not the case, because even though it basically is melodic Black Metal that we get offered by the Taiwanese bunch, it is not your generic play-by-numbers game they play, but for beginners incorporate an instrument called Er-hu into their songs, a 2-string oriental violin, which gives the compositions a distinct original note and the fact that they know how to loosen their songs up with calmer breaks also helps. Technically it also would be a distinctive feature to mention the Taiwanese lyrics, but the way Freddy rips up his vocal chords, it doesn’t matter anyways, you will not understand a word of what he is gargling to begin with.
As much as I often detest intros, as they more often than not are either too long or serve no other purpose than to have an intro or both at the same time, “Ye” is a great opening to the album, with female chanting, keyboards and some violin, giving way to the slow-paced beginning of “Be Ming Ge”, with the keyboards already taking their spot close to the rudder of the band, with harsh Black Metal shrieks and a little violin, before speeding things up considerably, with the exception of the violin nothing groundbreaking within the genre, but a more than solid starter for sure. The Er-hu definitely is the defining feature of the album and the songs it is featured on stand out from the often genre-typical sound of CHTHONIC, such as “Li Shen Gui”, “Hen Shi San Jie” or “Lye Hun Ru Yan Yu”.
Some purists will detest the symphonic nature of the songs, while others, in conjunction with the nice dynamics, will hold this for the band and I tend to stand with the latter group, as “Relentless Recurrence” might not be groundbreaking, but still contains enough of an own touch to appeal to a quite big number of genre fans, well done!
(Online September 13, 2007)