In a country where it seems pretty unlikely to see a healthy bloom in underground Death, Black, Thrash and Heavy Metal bands, China has always given this writer the impression that only a handful of rock and metal bands have managed to rise up. But I was wrong about this. China does have a real underground metal scene, as the bands featured on this compilation, Resurrection Of The Gods, show. CALVIN CHIANG gives a track-by-track run down.

GATE OF MEDITATION
The Ancient Legend

The song kicks off with a short sample which is very techno-like, but when the song finally starts, it is filled with aggressive melody lines. This band is actually a studio project of Painkiller magazine, so it is not really a real band. With a strong European melody feel, this reminds me of Stratovarius mixed with Swedish melodic metal. A really great instrumental to start off the compilation.

SUFFOCATED
Breakdown

This is a four-piece Death Thrash band with old school, '80s Thrash riffs, and Suffocated remind me of Malaysia’s Sil-Khannaz, with their brand of catchy songwriting. The vocals are your typical cookie-monster growls, the guitar solos really complement the song with very powerful Thrash melodic phrasing.

 

HADES
The Nightmare Went On

Hades, which have been in the China underground Metal scene since 1993, broke up in 1999 soon after they recorded a promo demo. This track starts off with a very interesting intro — Chinese Opera being played in the background, then the vocals enter with a monstrous growl and the whole band kicks in with a killer and simple headbanging Thrashy verse. Although Hades have been hailed one of the pioneer Metal bands in China, they also inject some modern Metal ideas on this track — the most obvious are the grooves. One can also observe a pattern in China’s Metal approach to songwriting — they like to slow things down in the middle of the song and Hades use the same formula as well. But Hades do it differently — it is the monotonous zombie-like chanting that makes the song slightly eerie. The guitar solo sort of reminds me of a typical Kreator solo. Still, great music by this underground Metal legend!

RITUAL DAY
The Unholy Year Is Coming

 

A four-piece Black Death Metal band, with influences ranging from Samael, Dissection and Opeth, this is definitely one of the most evil bands that I have heard from China. The vocals are really evil and harshly cold, piercing and torturing me with every growl and sentence. It also has a clean acoustic passage which is very classical sounding. I would love to get hold of their new CD to see what Ritual Day will progress into.

BEELINE
Join Us (We Will Rule This World)

If Florida Death Metal is what you are into, then you must check out Beeline. I am sure there are many who will say that this track sounds like Deicide — the vocal phrasing is exactly the same as Once Upon A Cross, and one wonders if the band realises this. Beeline have managed to create that "American" Death Metal sound.

VOMIT
Dust Devil

Vomit, a three-piece with a female bassist, are a twisted experimental Extreme Metal band, although it was written in the CD booklet that they are an old school Death Metal band. The song slows down to a mellow passage in the middle while the vocalist is still singing in a low grunt combined with a clean voice. The vocalist does a Chris Barnes (during the Cannibal Corpse era) and it really enhances the extremity of the song. Vomit also use a strange airplane engine effect with grinding drums during the last part of the song, which makes the song even weirder than it already is. Fans of experimental industrial Extreme Metal should give this track a listen.

BLOODBATH
The Living One

Bloodbath are inspired by '80s Speed and Thrash Metal. They play a style of energetic Speed Thrash Metal and they really remind me of our local Thrash maniacs Zeotz. It is clearly audible that the vocals are sung in Mandarin. This track really portrays them as a barbaric Thrash band, maybe because of the way the vocalist sings in that primitive harsh tone that makes Bloodbath sound like a huge, filthy and ugly Thrash engine! They have also put out a four-track demo.

SERAPH
March Of The Empire

Here, the guitar sound is very similar to that of Ritual Day — fuzzy, dark and evil sounding. Seraph play a blend of Darkened Melancholic Black Metal with backing female vocals, but nothing like Cradle Of Filth. March Of The Empire is pretty simple and straightforward and it also has Iron Maiden influences as well, during the mid-tempo part especially.

 

PURGATORY
The Gift From Satan

Purgatory play a style of aggressive Black Metal, displaying merciless power on the track. Although I may not be a big fan of Black Metal, Purgatory really do a great job conveying the message about extreme filth. The song is made up of just a few riffs but it is already enough to slaughter the Christians. Purgatory remind me of a defunct Dutch Christian-slaying Blackened Death Metal band Centurian. For those into uncompromising, straightforward, hate-filled and filthy Black Metal, Purgatory will surely satisfy!

CANKERED CORPSE
Destruction

Cankered Corpse, from historic Xi An, China, display pure Thrash energy and power right from the start and then blast off in grindcore fashion. But a downside is the slowed-down, mellow acoustic part in the middle of the song. The track ends off with a Cannibal Corpse sound-alike solo.

CRIMSON FLAG
Mess Around

Mess Around is really a catchy '80s Thrash and Heavy Metal song. It’s almost like a Thrash anthem in my opinion. Here, vocalist Wenchang Shen really sounds like Tomas Lindberg during the The Crown period. I guess the tracks off Crimson Flag’s first demo CD are all sung in Mandarin, so just imagine Tomas Lindberg singing in Mandarin and you will have a very good idea of how Crimson Flag sound like! Crimson Flag even sound like The Crown at times, with their brand of Death, Rock and Punk elements. This is a band to watch out for and if they polish up their songwriting just a little, they might just be the biggest Thrash act in China.

ENDOPUTRESCENCE
Gorgasm

The only Brutal Extreme Death Metal along the likes of Deeds Of Flesh, Insision and Sinister on this compilation. The drums are actually drum machines. Still, this is really an awesome track, and the highlight is the guitars, really great fretwork, just as technically proficient as the band’s influences mentioned above. The guitarist also has a solid guitar tone that fits perfectly with the brutality of the song. Definitely one of the killer tracks on this compilation!

What stands out is the weak sound for most of the bands — only Beeline and Hades have decent sound. It'd be better too if there is an email address for the respective bands.

Note: The writer would like to thank Wang Xiao from China, who is also the editor of Painkiller Magazine (www.pkmagcn.com), for sending the compilation.



For more... email singbigo@singnet.com.sg with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."