Scene Report: Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Part 2
We’re diving right back in to resume our journey through the myriad of new heavy offerings from bands across China’s mainland as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Check out Part 1 in case you missed it the first time around, and don’t forget to take a look at last year’s China scene roundup.
If I’ve failed to include your favorite band from the region in this piece, drop a note in the comments!
-- Ivan Belcic
Death/thrash metal | Hong Kong
Formed in 2010 by ex-King Ly Chee and ex-Evocation drummer Leung Kin Man and guitarist Alex Liu, INDenial made their recorded debut just last year with a full-length self-titled record. The songs on INDenial revolve largely around sociopolitical themes including the city’s “crazy property market, the notorious education system, derivatives issue[s] in the financial market, [and] a new wave of emigration from HK to foreign countries,” Leung said in an interview with UniteAsia. “People [who live in Hong Kong] are always ready to explode.” Steady fixtures in Hong Kong’s metal scene, INDenial have played extensively in the mainland as well, notably supporting thrash legends Kreator in Beijing last year.
Brutal death metal | Taipei, Taiwan
Maggot Colony have made incredible strides since their formation in 2013. Their 2017 album Vile Reincarnation, the second overall in their career, featured a guest spot from The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad and also earned a mention in the singer’s top 100 albums of the year. Fans in the US can catch Maggot Colony at Las Vegas Death Fest this May. The band’s merch game is also extremely on-point, with their official branded conical hat the clear standout item.
Folk metal | Hailar, China
Nine Treasures are a massive name, and they’re showing no signs of letting up any time soon. The storied folk band from Inner Mongolia have been crafting their signature sound since 2010 through three full-lengths, one EP and a live album, with their most recent LP Wisdom Eyes released last year. Nine Treasures earned considerable international recognition by placing second in the 2013 Wacken Open Air Metal Battle, and they’ve since embarked on multiple European tours. Vocalist Askhan leads the band with a charismatic growl, often complementing his Mongolian-language lyrics with traditional throat singing.
Progressive deathcore | Hong Kong
Hong Kong quartet Parallel Horizons keep the deathcore flame burning bright in the coastal city while imbuing their music with a wide range of progressive and djent influences. Since releasing their debut EP in March of 2015, the group have brought their highly polished music on multiple excursions across the region. Parallel Horizons dropped their debut full-length Dissonant Echoes last October and have been supporting the record with a busy local concert calendar in the ensuing months.
Blackened thrash metal | Qingdao, China
There’s very little publicly available information on the enigmatic Rerthro. The solo project is the current incarnation of Rerthro’s former band Raw Emnity and was created in 2016 after the departure of his ex-bandmates from the group. On his debut album Torment, Rerthro creates raging blackened thrash capped by his primal, larynx-busting howls.
Shepherds the Weak
Metallic hardcore | Hong Kong
Despite dropping their debut full-length Biformity just last year, Shepherds the Weak have been an influential presence in Hong Kong’s scene since their formation in 2005. The band is fronted by dual vocalists Richie Paril and Terrence Salinas, who along with drummer Mike Salcedo are the group’s remaining original members, though the band’s lineup has been stable since 2010. Paril and Salinas trade full-throated shouts over the band’s surging hardcore tempest, one with no shortage of low-slung, groove metal flavor. Shepherds the Weak have previously released two EPs — 2006’s Strength in Numbers and Aeons in 2013 — and they are frequent performers in the city’s live music venues.
Hardcore | Beijing, China
Beijing hardcore outfit Struggle Session have wasted no time in establishing themselves as a dynamic band to watch. The international group comprises members from Australia, the US and Canada, including guitarist Nevin Domer of underground Chinese label Genjing Records and one-time booking manager of the now-closed iconic Beijing venue D-22. Struggle Session issued a split 12” last year with Guangzhou band Die!ChiwawaDie!, and they’ll soon be releasing two more splits: one with Arryam from South Korea, and another with Brazil’s Test. Both are slated for release before Struggle Session embark on their five-week South American tour this June.
Progressive death metal | Hong Kong
Synergy’s debut album Laika is one of the freshest on this entire list, having just been released this past March. The band, which shares guitarist Ronald “Wolf” Suen with INDenial — in which he’s the vocalist — have been active since 2012, refining their blend of Opeth-influenced progressive metal across the city’s stages. For Laika, the band partnered with Hong Kong-based artist Lup to create the album’s stunning imagery, which represents each band member in animal form. Synergy have released Laika as a double clear 12” vinyl, all the more impressive considering the band’s independent status.
The Tracy Lörds
Punk | Hong Kong
The Tracy Lörds are the latest project of Hong Kong-based scene fixture and guitarist Arthur Urquiola, in which he is joined by bassist Dave Kerr (ex-Sorry & the Sinatras) and Gabe Andre on drums. The trio create hardcore-tinged punk anthems with distinct traces of doom woven throughout. The Tracy Lörds dropped a 7” split with Hong-Kong band The Squawk this past February, the band’s third release in addition to two prior EPs. Last year, The Tracy Lörds supported Japan’s Sete Star Sept as well as Implore of Germany for their respective Hong Kong shows and are planning to release a new EP sometime this year.
Death metal | Beijing, China
Troma Tumor’s merciless death metal continues on their second album The Genesis, released in November of 2017 on Thanatology Productions. The concept album is a continuation of the story begun on the band’s previous EP The Chaos God, a harrowing tale of humanity’s destruction and rebirth at the hands of the eponymous Chaos God. Troma Tumor have supported the mythology of their music with additional merch including original comics as well as custom action figures of their protagonist “Troma Godzis”.
Thrash metal | Beijing, China
It’s become nearly impossible to discuss thrash in China without mentioning Beijing’s Tumourboy. Since releasing their debut full-length Damaged System in 2016, the quartet have rapidly cultivated a following based on their crisp songwriting and the consistently superb artwork across their album covers and merch. Tumourboy have just wrapped a brief five-date European tour, including a slot at Germany’s Taunus Metal Festival, in support of their second album Condemned to Extinction.
Symphonic black metal | Qingdao, China
Tyranny is another solitary metal warrior making some killer music all on his own. The project is the work of one man known as 古蛇, or Dark Serpent to his anglophone friends. Also a member of two-man ambient post-black metal band The Mortal World, Dark Serpent has taken a much more vicious and sinister approach with his work as Tyranny. Here, Dark Serpent reinterprets the classical 16th-century Chinese novel The Investiture of the Gods as an ambitious two-part concept album. The project’s latter half, The Demise Of A Hymn · Part Two, released this past January, focuses on the downfall of the Shang Dynasty over 3,000 years ago.
Progressive metal | Guangzhou, China
Von Citizen are China’s answer to the vein of progressive metal characterized by Animals as Leaders, Periphery, and Intervals. The proficiency of the band members is on full display throughout Von Citizen’s songs, with performances as clean as the music’s production. The group will be releasing their debut album Sentience on April 30th, with a guest spot on the song “Mechanic” from Olly Steel of Monuments.
This two-part piece would have been exponentially more difficult to research without the dedicated efforts of the good people at Unite Asia, Asian Metal Music and Chinese Metal Music. All three are excellent resources for anyone looking to stay informed about all the happenings in heavy music across Asia.