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Yin: A Taste of China’s Black Metal Renaissance

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Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

It may be Spring, but true metal never thaws. Case in point: Beijing Nordic Black Metal duo Ibex Moon have just released their first full-length record, Past/Evil, which comes with this winter-barren visual accompaniment for mid-album track “Dark Fogs Billow”:

Though Ibex Moon is a fairly new project — this is their only release other than a 2016 EP — its members KRIEGOD (vocals) JIAK (everything else) have deep roots in the Chinese metal scene, with previous stints in 2008-formed Skeletal Augury and 18-year-old Beijing Black Metal unit Evilthorn on their collective resumé. Ex-Evilthorn member Li Chao (today better known as alt-club terrorizer Zaliva-D) gets a shout in the liner notes to Past/Evil, which was released by a label that will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Chinese metal: Pest Productions.

Past/Evil is, in fact, Pest’s 206th release. The label was formed by Deng Zhang from the southern-central city of Nanchang, who first came into contact with the genre as a teenager. Initially sucked in by overseas influences like New Jersey 80s thrash band Overkill and the homegrown example of early Chinese metal standard bearers Tang Dynasty, Deng launched Pest in 2006 to release a demo for Nanchang Black Metallers Be Persecuted. The rest is a history that’s still being written, one collector’s box set at a time.

Related:

Yin: Unholy Black Metal from Nanchang’s Be Persecuted

While Deng’s label represents several tips of the extreme metal family tree, he professes a particular fondness for the “cold and evil voice” of Black Metal, and has done a lot to bolster one of China’s most successful Black Metal bands, Zuriaake. “As far as the Black Metal scene [in China] is concerned,” he says, “there are a lot of young and great new bands in recent years.” Deng lists R.N.V., Fujian’s Black Reaper, Throat Cutter from Taiyuan, Holokastrial from Shanghai, and Infested Crucifix from Nanjing) as a few examples.

While Black Metal occupies a small niche within China’s sub-cultural landscape, Deng is heartened by this new wave, as well as seasoned hands like Ibex Moon returning to the fold with new projects. Another newly reformed band comprised of old scene heads is Frozen Moon from the northeastern city of Jinzhou, about whom Deng says: “This band actually has a history of 20 years, but stopped their activity almost ten years ago. Last year they resumed, and the style has changed a lot, from Norwegian Black Metal to a shamanic Black Metal with the folk music of northern China at its core. It is immediately rooted in China, and has strong regional characteristics.”

 

If you want to dive deeper down the Chinese Black Metal rabbit hole, Deng also recommends southern Chinese Black Metal band Holyarrow’s 2016 concept album about Ming Dynasty prince Koxinga‘s military campaign against northern Manchu invaders (the entire album is sung in the regional language Hokkien), and, naturally, one of his own bands, Dopamine.

 

Of course, this is only the tip of a very large, very cold iceberg: peruse the full library of Pest Productions’ 200+ releases right here, and keep track on their latest limited merch runs via Facebook.

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Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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