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Many desirable Western metal bands never make it to Taiwan. Even Black Sabbath, who are circumnavigating the globe in support of their The End Tour, aren’t visiting China or Taiwan. Given that a number of deterring factors — like flying equipment overseas and, consequently, low turnout rates due to increased ticket prices — prevent bands from making the haul, it means a lot to fans on the island when their favorite artists do take the effort to play for them. This was the case on October 10th when power metal legends Blind Guardian teamed up with renowned black metal deviants Dark Funeral to play at Taipei’s Mega Punch Festival at the ATT Show Box, a venue located in the heart of Taipei’s downtown next to the World Trade Center, also known as ‘Taipei 101.’

Anticipative fans lined the stairwell leading up to the venue: this was the first time Blind Guardian and Dark Funeral had ever played Taiwan. When the doors finally opened, the crowd gathered expectantly in front of the security fencing; minutes later, opening act Infernal Chaos took the stage. Founded by Chthonic guitarist Jesse and bassist Mason in 2004, local favorites Infernal Chaos sound somewhere between metalcore and melodic death metal. They've been inactive since 2009 due to Chthonic’s demanding international touring schedule, so this was their first show in almost 8 years. Veterans at their craft, they played a seamless set and broke the crowd in.

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Dark Funeral came on next. The crowd cheered incessantly as the members marched across the stage donning their studded leather regalia and corpse paint. They opened with “Unchain My Soul”, the first track from their latest LP, Where Shadows Forever Reign. They produced a wall of sound that pummeled the audience for the entirety of their set.

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New frontman Heljarmadr lead the Swedish mainstays through standards like “The Arrival of Satan’s Empire”, “My Funeral”, and an assortment of other songs spanning their discography. After nearly 60 minutes of unadulterated sonic battery, the quintet exited the stage only to return with an encore consisting of “Nail Them to the Cross”, “Atrum Regina”, and “Where Shadows Forever Reign”.

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The transition from blast beats and otherworldly shrieks to melodic soundscapes and Hansi Kürsch’s soaring vocals absorbed the onlookers: as Blind Guardian walked singlefile under the warm glow of the stage lights, the audience broke into spirited hoorahs and upraised horns. After a brief greeting, the band kicked off with “Ninth Wave” and “Welcome to Dying” before Kürschi began to converse with the crowd. “This is going to be a very long evening,” he said. “We will demand all of your energy. This next song is ‘Nightfall’! Scream for me Taipei!” at which point the crowd went ballistic.

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After playing “Fly,” Blind Guardian announced they would be performing Imaginations From the Other Side in its entirety, which incited more hue and clamor. However, unlike their North American dates, where the band also played all of Imaginations, they refrained from playing an extensive encore, opting instead to conclude with “The Bard’s Song - In the Forest” and “Mirror Mirror”. Considering the length of the show, everyone seemed satisfied and equally exhausted. Metalheads live for these kind of exhilarating, spirited performances, and for Taipei’s devout scene, it felt more like the first rains on parched earth.

—Zach Painter

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