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Infernal Chaos Rising – New Blood, New Album

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Rain is coming down by the gallon as I descend the pitch-black staircase to The Wall, one of Taipei’s first independent music venues, founded by Chthonic frontman Freddy Lim and a business partner (though Lim has since sold his share). The hall is lined with tour posters and band stickers while wet umbrellas are sequestered in a corner.

The air buzzes with excitement even though it’s hours before the performance. A slew of music events are scheduled for the weekend, and acts from all corners of the Eastern Hemisphere have gathered here tonight for the show. Hexvoid and female-fronted Headphones President from Japan just touched down while Australian band Truth Corroded are headlining the metal fest tonight. Infernal Chaos, the only local band playing tonight, is the main reason I came. Organized by Metal Sensor, who were also the juggernauts behind bringing British grindcore Napalm Death to the island, tonight’s gig is titled Final Seal.

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“It’s kind of an ‘I’m sorry’ event for everyone that couldn’t make it to everything else this weekend,” remarks Jesse, founder and guitarist of Infernal Chaos. Sandwiched between the Taipei International Tattoo and Music Festival and WakeUp Festival, the concert will be a tough draw, but many who work weekends or can’t make the trek down to Chiayi are gathering tonight. Infernal Chaos has been experiencing a revival of sorts, perhaps in response to Chthonic’s temporary touring hold as frontman Freddy Lim fulfills his duties as a newly elected legislator in the Taiwanese Parliament.

Formed in March 2004 by Chthonic guitarist and Golden Music Awards “Best Musician” winner Jesse Black Liu (along with bassist Mason), Infernal Chaos is now 13 years old. They had recruited rhythm guitarist Ren as well as vocalist Cig and drummer Shin.

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Two EPs quickly followed suit, At the Gates of Chaos and Evil Within, and in 2007, the band released their first album Vision of Disorder. After three years of non-stop touring, they announced a hiatus in 2010 as Liu focused more on his activities with Chthonic, who were beginning to tour worldwide, and everyone disbanded to focus on their own path in music.

In 2013, they reunited to perform at Megaport to enthusiastic response and continued their streak, opening for As I Lay Dying in May the same year, and performing at Formoz Fest, Mega Punch, and Heartown festivals before deciding to buckle down and work on a new album titled Return to Chaos.

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Earlier this year, Cig and Shin departed to focus on other musical aspirations. “It’s a little hard to explain; the best way to put it would be they’ve just left their roles as band members,” says Ren, who runs the band’s social media. “But we are still one big family.”

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Kenny and Yu were introduced in February, and the renewed momentum brought on by the lineup changes and more consistent performances is propelling the band forward. They had their first show with the new members at this year’s Megaport festival in March, a yearly music festival held in Taiwan’s southernmost metropolis Kaohsiung where the nation’s biggest indie metal acts play.

Infernal Chaos at WakeUp Fest 2017
Infernal Chaos at WakeUp Fest 2017

“We’ve brought in a lot of new blood,” says Jesse. Newer, and younger. Vocalist Monster Kenny and drummer Xiao Yu are a solid 10 years younger than their senior members, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell.

The new members are top-notch. Yu has been a professional drummer for years, performing with some of Taiwan’s top acts, as well as Taiwanese metal legends Red Generation and Silent Hell, among others. Kenny has been screaming since 2006, and has twice won “Best Performance” at the Yamaha Music Championships in Taiwan, as well as National Championship at the Intercollegiate Rock Competition. He is also in another band Body on the Party, who is gearing up to play in southern Taiwan soon, while promoting their eponymous EP and working on their debut album.

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“It’s been really crazy,” says Kenny, of working on two album releases at the same time, but the kid’s got game. From his vibrant stage presence and reserved energy he seems prepared to take on the world.

The new album in the works is comprised primarily of material that was written before their hiatus, but revamped in a whole new way. Bassist Mason completely rewrote “The Mask On Your Face,” including new electronic elements and much more complex melodies.

While in Infernal Chaos, Jesse’s proclivity for balanced yet layered guitar harmonies — in combination with Mason’s rich bass, Yu’s driving drums, and Kenny’s monstrous vocals — make for a satisfying sound, sure to please the most demanding of metal connoisseurs.

In addition to his role in Infernal Chaos and ChthoniC, Jesse is also a music producer at Black Frequency Studios and official international endorser for Hercules stands, and has released a set of four live set patches with Boss Tone Central, as well as a signature guitar series with ESP.

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With the new addition of top-shelf talent and a roster of events and releases lined up, Infernal Chaos is experiencing renewed vigor. Already considered one of the top bands in Taiwan’s vivacious metal scene alongside fan favorites Flesh Juicer and Anthelion, this next album album should solidify their standing and broaden their appeal.

-Darice Chang

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