Sunday, August 06, 2006

Taiwanese heavy metal

The Levitator--a solidly good blog from Taiwan--has a fascinating post on the Taiwanese heavy metal band, Chthonic:
There is a reason why Chthonic is more than just another bunch of head-banging noisemakers. To their growing fan base, their songs have become part of Taiwan’s creation myth—like myths at the heart of every other nation’s collective psyche. They are architects consciously shaping the Taiwanese ethos in pop culture, and an important force in Taiwan’s long-running tug-of-war between different identities.

And they’ve done it with little help from the big media-entertainment-culture establishment.

Chthonic’s themes are not limited to the Han Chinese experience. Their first album includes songs that invoke Aboriginal gods. Their second album Ninth Empyrean deals with conflicts between Han and Aboriginal gods. Relentless Recurrence deals with a female ghost who follows her rapist-murderer to China for revenge.

The gradual expansion and consolidation of the Taiwanese identity is clearly evident in the band’s decade-long success—nowhere as big as Andy Lau but big enough to sustain the band under their independent TRA label. They are also big enough to get concert tours in quite a few countries, recording tours in Denmark, and US releases of their albums. No mean feat for a “symphonic black metal” band in a country where the demand for this genre is generally low.


Blogger Battlepanda said...

Are they the guys that said "Pandas are creeps?"

5:34 PM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

I never heard that. Actually, I know next to nothing about them. Have you heard something? What has come to my attention is that they did the music to the Chinese version of the seemingly far-fetched but true story of Friday 13th's Jason v. Halloween's Michael.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Levitator ﹝浮客﹞ said...


Many thanks for posting about my blog.


Chthonic did perform a sarcastic song (in English) about pandas at the Formoz rock festival this year. The song is called "You Don't Belong Here." I can't find the lyrics yet. You know, they're a "death metal" band whose fans scatter ghost money at concerts to show support. But did they really say "pandas are creeps"? I'd be surprised if they're THAT gross. Maybe they shouldn't have done it in English.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

My pleasure. You're doing some interesting and original blogwork. I also like your stuff--and translations--about the pro-KMT movement in China. Pretty strange since the KMT was never exactly the bastion of Democracy in Taiwan, and the Chinese pro-blue movement doesn't recognize the results of Taiwanese democracy.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Levitator ﹝浮客﹞ said...

It's all so ironic. In their attempt to beat the DPP, Beijing kind of turned the KMT into heroes, like they did with Lien Chan, James Soong, Li Ao, you name it. Now all that spin is coming back at them. The KMT is embarrassed and doesn't know what to do about it except avoid the topic. That's why you don't see this issue on Chinese nationalist blogs like ESWN which are normally pro-democracy. It's just so embarrassing.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

Also funny that figures like Lien Chan and James Soong are more popular in China than here. I don't know about Li Ao. Is he popular in Taiwan? Seems like he has changed his positions a lot over the years.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Levitator ﹝浮客﹞ said...

Li Ao does have a fan base in Taiwan, but I don't know how big it is. He's a writer with some talent and a nasty mouth. He's quite different from Lien and Soong.

But given the way the Chinese media have promoted him in recent years, I'll bet he's far more popular in China.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

I guess big enough to win him a seat in the legislature.

Just for the sake of speculation, do you think there is any way that the pro-blue group in China is actually of the KMT's own making. Just a thought--a propaganda of sorts. If that were true, it would also explain why they were so quiet. Kind of like: "If you get caught you are on your own."

11:23 PM  

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