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One thing is clear – this is a band you either like, or not, there´s nothing in between. And I have to admit that I like this unusual combination of Folk (music and instruments) and Black / Death / Power Metal. „There´s nothing unusual about that“ you might think. Well, it is unusual/exotic, at least for European ears, when those are Asian Folk elements, namely traditional Taiwanese tunes and melodies created with five-note scale.
Chthonic come from Taiwan, which is made pretty clear with the Intro – all traditional sounds a la Peking Opera. But no worries, „Legacy“ takes off immediately, like Cradle of Filth meets Confucius. Folklore sounds and traditional instruments (this typical flutes and violin/lute) are used in contexts other bands would not dare – e.g. as contrast to or backing of real harsh parts with growls and screeches. And this is the reason why I find this band really interesting and exciting. Plus there are those exotic sounding choir parts (Takao), which might come straight from their national folklore. (Also the lyrics seem to focus on historic events.)
When faced with the challenge to name their style, I´d go for „Hybrid Metal“: Thrash-Speed meets Black Metal brutality, mixed with Rock-Groove, epic Doom (Oceanquake) and Power Metal guitar soli – and of course there are also those Folk bits mentioned above. My highlights are e.g. Kaoru (could be by Dimmu Borgir), Jade – because of the original intro and this haunting violin/lute solo, plus Mahkala – great mid tempo groove and pretty catchy. Almost too catchy, but the guys pull it off and avoid to cross over to Kitsch.
Summary – if you are looking for something extraordinary from the tough-but-still-melodious section, this is the album for you.