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

Wrapping up the work week with some pagan riffs from Zuriaake (葬尸湖), a black metal band from Jinan that’s been keeping it evil since 2001. Though China’s metal scene got started in the late ’80s, with bands like Black Panther and Tang Dynasty adapting Western influences and pentatonic tunes into distorted, arena-pleasing anthems, it wasn’t until later that the genre’s fringes fully seeped into the Chinese subcultural stratum, and bands like Zuriaake and Nanchang’s Be Persecuted, which formed in 2005, embraced the full regalia of Black Metal.

Zuriaake is one of the oldest still-extant Chinese black metal bands, and still clear leaders of the pack. They’re a band shrouded in mystery (and actual shrouds), dedicated purists of the theatrical, operatic nature of pure black metal, never to be caught on stage without their monkish cowls and dyed-black conical hats.

The band has a special knack for flipping traditional Chinese imagery, in fact — the cover of their seminal 2007 album Afterimage of Autumn manages to turn a serene ink-wash landscape painting ominous:

There’s something about Zuriaake’s sound and image that feels natural, totally unforced while being obviously very carefully constructed. Maybe there really is something deeply and inherently metal about Chinese history, an idea Kaiser Kuo has hinted at before:

The metal look works for Chinese males. This shit sprouts out of our head quite naturally and it looks pretty good. And that echoes with the great warriors of ancient times. Long hair means martial prowess.

If you happen to be in Shanghai this weekend, you can check out Zuriaake at this year’s Concrete and Grass festival — they’re having a do-over as last year they were too intense for the weather gods, and had their set cancelled by a typhoon. If you go, bring protection.

If you can’t — check back on Radii next week, we’ll have some photos from their set. Here’s a pretty killer live video of them performing at the MIDI Festival in China last May, so you can keep up at home:

And you can dive much deeper into the world of Chinese black metal via the website of Zuriaake’s label, Pest Productions.