I have watched Chthonic’s gig at 2021 Mega Port festival now for quite a few times with very mixed feelings. What I’m seeing is an extreme metal concert played before a whopping 95000 people in anno domina 2021. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? First of all the gig kicks ass so there’s excitement, secondly I’m feeling a bit bitter for not being there and thirdly there’s a glimmer of hope that this could happen in Europe too again at some point. Mega Port festival was canceled in 2020 because of Covid, but the situation this year in Tapei and Taiwan is at a point where these things can actually came back. Members of the highly influential Chthonic are of course in the background of Mega Port festival too as it was founded by Taiwan Rock Alliance.
Chthonic is a very special group because of it’s entanglement with politics in Taiwan. Band’s founder Freddy Lim also founded a political party in 2015, the New Power Party (he left the party in 2019). In 2016 Lim was elected as a member of Taiwan’s parliament or Legislative Yuan. After his election the band has been laying low and touring has been off the table. Lim admits that balancing the life of politician and musician is very hard and something he has yet to master. Even if balancing the two is tricky, he explains that music is such a natural part of him that it became the way to vent his negative feelings that politics bring to surface. According to Freddy there is a lot of new ideas for songs that he just didn’t have time to work on yet. To bring this back to Mega Port gig, guest starring via screen appearance was Taiwan’s cabinet or Executive Yuan member Audrey Tang.
Chthonic are the true pioneers of metal music in Taiwan and especially extreme metal as they were the first band to write their own material. Band first started in 1995, a time when Taipei could maintain only one metal club, sometimes not even that. Foreign metal bands skipped Taiwan on their tours and only three to four local bands could be found at any given time. Chthonic found their true form around 1999 when Freddy joined forces with Doris Yeh and Jesse Liu, the core members of the band to this day. The new line-up published the second album “9th Empyrean” and the rest is history.
Freddy Lim seems to be fighting the good fight with causes such as legalization of same-sex marriage and abolition of capital punishment and he has done a long days work for Taiwan’s metal scene that he still calls his family. Even though Freddy sets a great example, let’s not start thinking that metal musicians would automatically make good politicians. We of course have a sad example of that in a Finnish far-right party that will not be named to prove that point.
Chthonic interview 30.06.2021
Producer: Janne Vuorela