As I approached Legacy to become one with the mass of black-attired metalheads, the only color to be seen was in the basket of the lonely, misguided vendor attempting to sell blinking star wands and glowing strawberry rabbit ears. She evidently heard there was a big show about to happen, but obviously had no clue what was about to go down. Inside, as the lights dimmed, an ocean of devil horns arose. This was no place for blinky toys. Someone's got to be the last to know, and tonight it was her.
I remember back when the Shinkong Mitsukoshi building at Taipei Main Station was the tallest thing in town. One Sunday afternoon on a rickety stage out front was this young metal band in black t-shirts and face paint, hammering through their set before 20-30 curious onlookers. I thought it was cool they were up there playing but didn't see much success in their future.
Fast forward about 12 years. The band in question has since enjoyed a handful of critically-acclaimed albums, a Golden Melody award, and Wacken & Ozzfest appearances. Me, I'm traveling through SE Asia. I introduce myself to local metalheads. When they learn I've come from Taiwan, each person invariably and excitedly shouts, "Doris!" and starts miming air guitar.
Welcome to Chthonic.
Just a few months ago at Sing Ling Temple in Puli, Chthonic staged, by all accounts, an epic performance. I wished I were there at the time, but I was here now, and that's still a good thing. Chthonic ripped a strong set, lights years beyond that awkward appearance in front of the shopping mall. Hell money burst, flew, fluttered. Devil horns thrust upwards and the guttural purgings of vocalist Freddy incited guttural cheers in response. I won't pretend I'm an expert of Chthonic's music but after tonight I'm considering it would be a wise use of time. They played a great show, and proved to be gracious hosts for their friends Lamb of God, leading loud cheers to support for singer Randy Blythe's bid for president of the USA. Legitimate or not, he's got the Taipei vote. And me, I've got to admit I was wrong. Chthonic have obviously found success and assuredly will enjoy more. Someone's got to be the last to know, and it tends to be me (though at least I wasn't hawking glow sticks). Hell, better late than never. Chthonic rocked.
Another confession: prior to tonight, I was a Lamb of God virgin. Despite counting many of my friends among their faithful, and despite my metal heart / ample headbanging pedigree, I never really crossed paths with their music. In the weeks leading up to the show, I could have undergone an intensive metal immersion, but I chose instead to attend tonight as a clean slate. Let them impress me, convert me. Bring it on and show me what you can do, was my unspoken challenge.
Be careful what you ask for.
Holy fuck. One kick of the bass drum at final soundcheck nearly burst my skull. Is this what I'm in for? I repositioned myself, understanding quite clearly my metal cherry was about to get not popped, but exploded, loudly and decisively. Chris Adler is a monster drummer and quite rightly lorded over the night from an elevated platform. He was on another level. And with riffs straight from the Slayer Academy of Metal, and Gandolf chugging along on bass, I was easy prey. Love at first mosh.
Desolation, from the new album Resolution is speed metal at its most unrelenting, and a wicked choice to open the set. Walk With Me In Hell spawned the first the circle pit of the night. Set to Fail and Now You've Got Something To Die For assured more chaos and an evening of pain for those up front, as the barriers had given way during Chthonic.
Randy, who appeared at the famous Sing Ling Temple show, made it a point to praise our island's beauty, and dedicated Ruin to Chthonic, the band's "Taiwanese family," as he put it. He was as gracious a guest as one could wish for, going out of his way to have us understand how honored the band felt to be here. In addition to his sincerity and manners, I had to marvel at his energy and chops. He's a pretty unrelenting frontman.
Back to the music, a blistering Contractor was sandwiched in between newer songs The Undertow and The Number Six. Then it was on to the big hits. Laid to Rest, Remorse Is For The Dead, Redneck…. Each song sounded better than the previous one, more evil, more intense, more more. And then for the final number, Black Label, the crowd parted like the Red Sea leaving a massive hole, and people were literally running past me to escape the imminent insanity. For a brief moment before the song began, the circle was empty save for about three people waving their shirts. And like a black hole, it soon sucked all light and humanity back into its vortex. Hello chaos.
I entered Legacy a pure innocent and left ravaged. Thank you, Lamb of God, I'll always remember my first time with you. It was awesome.