Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Chinese Metal Scene, Part 2
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. Some time ago, I offered some suggestions on bands to check out in the Chinese metal scene. Well, China is a big and indescribably populous country, so it should be self evident that the nation has a few more hidden gems interspersed amongst its many teeming megalopolises. Let's kick off the Chinese New Year with three more Chinese metal bands worth a listen:
Brutal death metal in the Middle Kingdom? Believe it. Renchei, which translates to “human pig,” is named after an unspeakably cruel and unusual punishment invented by none other than Empress Lu Zhi, according to historical texts. When one of the royal consorts displeased her, the empress forced poison down her throat, cut off her hands and feet, scooped her eyeballs out of their sockets, cut out her tongue and, as a final humiliation, forced the debilitated woman to live in a toilet as a human pig, languishing in other peoples' filth until her death. That pretty much sums up Renchei's sound—brutal and unforgiving. Taking cues from the likes of Devourment, Dying Fetus, Skinless, and American brutal death metal in general, Renchei offers up a Chinese take on the western technical, guttural, slamming sound. Operating out of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, the band released a six song EP in 2010, “Relic of Disobedience,” featuring five originals and a Disgorge (U.S.) cover. Renchei is currently signed to BrutalReign Productions, a Chinese death metal label established in Xuzhou in 2009 that has begun to acquire acts in China and as far abroad as the U.S.
With over a billion pairs of ears listening in China, the retro thrash revival had to find it's way there sooner or later. Featuring three former members of Heresy, a black thrash band from Nanchang, Explosicum was founded in 2005 and released an instrumental demo with four untitled tracks that same year, recorded with the help of a drum machine. Three years later, the four-piece band delivered its first full length album, “Conflict,” which was comprised of nine songs of pure Bay Area thrash worship in line with acts such as Hirax, Heathen, Vio-lence, and any other high top wearing, denim jacket tearing toxic waltzers you can name. And with a song called “Slaaaaaayer!,” it doesn't take much guess work to figure out what posters these guys grew up with on their bedroom walls. “Conflict” was put out by Area Death Productions, a Beijing-based metal label and distro. Vocalist/bassist Tan Chong also pulls guitar duty in depressive black metal act Be Persecuted.
Should we really be surprised that music this brutal can come out of China? This is the country that gave us death by a thousand cuts, and the one-child policy coupled with a preference for male heirs that has turned the nation into one giant sausage fest. No wonder its young men are being driven to create such chaotic and impossibly heavy sounds. They need an outlet and an escape from the inconceivably frustrating fact that there are literally tens of millions more men than women in China, and that outlet is brutal death metal. Autopsia, a band based in Tianjin, came to be in 2005, and the four-piece already boasts a list of ex-members five men deep. Luckily the band survived this apparent roster tumult to release a self-titled EP in 2010 for Rotting Development Productions. The five tracks on the EP, which was limited to just 100 copies, follow such tried and true subject material as feasting upon human flesh, corpse dismemberment, and body decomposition. The young men in Autopsia worship the greats of American and European old school and brutal death metal such as Suffocation, Avulsed, and Cannibal Corpse, and bands with a more modern, slamming sound such as Japan's Infernal Revulsion.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene or genre to unearth some new underground metal bands.
Joe Henley is a freelance music journalist and editor currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. In addition to pulling vocal duty in a death metal band, he maintains a website on the Taiwanese metal scene and writes regular features on the touring bands that come through Taipei for a local monthly music magazine.
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