In my review for “Relentless Recurrence” I had already mentioned that the visual side of CHTHONIC’s double CD/DVD package “A Decade On The Throne Live” was a stunner and it definitely is. A DigiBook with velvety coating, metallic embossing and thick pages housing the discs is something to be beheld and next to impossible to describe without being able to see it, just trust me, this is something truly extraordinary!
Overall we are treated to a 90 minute live concert, recorded with an oriental orchestra and the Taipei Ladies' Choir, giving the symphonic Black Metal of the Taiwanese a certain authenticity in sound on top of the indigenous Er-hu two string oriental violin, which adorns quite a few of their compositions, adding its charm to the melodic yet harsh music, lifting it from the uniformity of the genre. As the title already suggests, what we have here is their 10th anniversary show in their hometown Taipei, so the fans knew exactly what awaited them as well as the occasion, taking the chance to frenetically celebrate their local heroes.
As I do not know any other album of theirs, I can’t really comment on how the songs fit into the historical context of CHTHONIC’s evolution, so I will just concentrate on some memorable moments here. For one variety is a big thing for the Taiwanese, as they do not stubbornly blast through their songs in one dimension, but shake things up with quiet breaks and passages, the excellent implementation of the violin, which to western ears might sound a little askew here and there, but that is the nature of this instrument and they use it to the full extent. Same goes for the female vocals, which form a melodic counterpart to the harsh shrieking of fronter Freddy, further showcasing the willingness and abilities of the band to stray from the beaten path.
The outstanding songs, in my opinion, are “The Breath Of Ocean”, “Grab The Soul To Hell”, “Vengeance Arise” (a truly excellent song, one of their best), “The Gods Weep” and brilliant powerful “Guard The Isle Eternally”, both of which see the maybe best use of the Er-hu, not to forget the excellent solo of said instrument, where Su-Nung can show off his talent.
Visually the band sports almost KISS-like facepaint, with the notable exception of drummer Dani, who has opted for a full mask, while the concert itself is also very well choreographed and shot, rounding off a worthy celebration of one decade of musicianship, now also trying to break the North American market, thanks to this sumptuous offering and their gigs at Ozzfest. A very good first contact if you ask me and with its own character on top of that!
(Online September 13, 2007)