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Golden Age Metal Festival - 雪沉乐队, Black Kirin, Zuriaake, Nine Treasures, The Samans

Live Reviews Sunday, 13 December 2020 06:51
Golden Age Metal Festival - 雪沉乐队, Black Kirin, Zuriaake, Nine Treasures, The Samans

December 12, 2020, 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China


The first snow of the year appeared in Tianjin on this day and with it, five of China’s most esteemed metal acts came into town for the Golden Age Metal Festival. Unlike other recent festivals which had a few filler bands, the five here were all top quality acts which could, and have, headlined their own tours.

66 Livehouse was jam-packed by the time the first band of the night got on stage, 雪沉乐队. At the One Of Us III Metal Festival a few months back, they were the final band to play, meaning that after nine acts, the crowd was spent. Here, their brand of modern folk metal was the beginning of an avalanche of energy which didn’t let up all night. In particular, crowd favorite “乌木” ignited the crowd like a New Year’s firework.

Black Kirin have traded in a lot of the black metal aesthetic since the last time they came through town for high concept, dramatic storytelling under a blackened tapestry. Gone is the corpse paint but gained is a show that is all-encompassing, like a 45 minute drama or Chinese opera, only this story is that of some of the darkest times in China. An image I will never forget was as the band was band playing, on the video screen behind them (previously showing their “Nanking Massacre” video), an image that resembles a school photo of children slaughtered, while the choral voices of infantile spirits were heard accompanying the grieving shrieks of the vocalist. It was, in a word - powerful.

Zuriaake, meaning “Lake of Corpses” have created a mythology for themselves these past few years. Their costumes come across like Sunn O))) mixed with the first iteration of Ghost, though oriental. Their live show was ceremonious. First, tree branches with lanterns were set upon the stage. Then, incense was lit to set the mood. Then, the members, all dressed in ominous black robes and fishing hats, their faces concealed, slowly emerged to properly mystify the audience. A strange vial was opened and splashed upon audience members in the front rows about three songs in like a black baptism. Their brand of atmospheric black metal was much like the incense which permeated through their set - lingering and potent, and when they left the stage, it was as if a spell had been lifted. As I said before, tonight was the first time it has snowed heavily all year, and I kid you not, when going outside for some fresh air after their performance, it was coming down heavily right after their set. It was something magical.

Recently the Mongolian band The Hu have received a lot of attention due to their unique brand of folk metal - making some cheeky commenters claim to be proud of being Mongolian despite not being a native of the country. Their cover of “Sad But True” by Metallica has certainly aided the hype. However, I would argue that Nine Treasures are just as, if not better than The Hu. This Inner Mongolian band creates folk metal songs that are infectiously catchy, and utilize a lot of the same instrumentation (such as the morin khuur), and throat singing seen by their brethren up north. When the band broke into “Wisdom Eyes”, the audience became as unglued as a stable of horses after a wasp nest was tossed in it. Truly one of China’s musical treasures.

I had a few preconceived notions about The Samans before catching them at this show. I had only heard their track “Whale Song”, which has a chorus lifted from Linkin Park’s “Numb”, which left me feeling uneasy. As the final band of the night, and not knowing much about them besides this, they had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the band stuck some ancient Chinese melo-death down my throat and relieved my ailments. The band has more in common with Rammstein or nu metal acts such as downthesun than Linkin Park. The vocals are rough and distorted, while songs like “Death March” and “Attila” have plenty of crunch in the riff department. Despite being quite heavy, they don’t forget about their culture, and the odd folk melody can be heard within the chaos. At this point in the night you’d expect the crowd to be tired, but during The Samans, the stage divers and crowdsurfers came out like gangbusters, giving one last go while covered in sweat before venturing out into the cold after the show, and to their ordinary lives the next day. As for this show - it was golden.


-Ryan Dyer

Written by  Ira Hunter
Ira Hunter

Ira Hunter

Ira's bio coming online shortly!

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