Brutal Tourism: 10 Sick Taiwanese Metal Bands
Taiwan is known as an international tourist destination for its incredible street food, with the bustling, overcrowded bazaars offering tasty snacks ranging from taro balls to ice cream rolls. For the brave food connoisseur, there are treats which could be best described as “brutal,” too; take the scrumptious pig’s blood cake, served on a stick, which also has the nickname of blood pudding. It’s delicious, but you know… it’s made out of blood.
By that same token, the Taiwanese music scene has talented acts spanning all genres, some more brutal than others. For the true music connoisseur, there are several bands found on the island fit for the gore-filled hot pot. It’s no coincidence that the island is shaped like a heart, after all…
Do you have a second or two? Some bands don’t need to beat around the bush and bore audiences with 10-minute epics to make an impression. Like a drive-by stabbing, Ashen’s songs are short, violent and to the point… but they aren’t goregrind; these are brutal, boxed up brutal death metal tracks on speed. At only 1:25, the Lee Long-directed music video for “This World is Ours/ TIME TO DIE” manages to capture the band’s dynamics, with snarling closeups of the their faces, contorted fret work and frenzied drum kit smashing, all while the light show tempts an epileptic fit.
You’d be hard pressed to find a finer death/grind band in Taiwan. Brain Corrosion go straight for the neck in their delivery and have a morbid and culturally sound theme to boot. The band has the label of “Jiangshi Grind” (“Chinese hopping vampire,” a corpse reanimated by a Taoist priest. Check out the Mr. Vampire film series or Rigor Mortis for further Jiangshi studies). Their recent split with Ripped to Shreds entitled Exhumed from Eastern Tombs conveys the theme in a grisly black and white illustration. You may think that the vampiric element might have worked better for a black metal or doom band, but when one is sawing someone in half with a chainsaw on your album cover, why nitpick?
Ripped to Shreds
The Taiwanese export of Andrew Lee’s Ripped to Shreds now calls the San Francisco Bay Area one of its stomping grounds, having two distinct lineups (in Taiwan and the U.S.). Concerning the Brain Corrosion partnership above, the second half of the Exhumed from Eastern Tombs split sees Ripped to Shreds doing what their name implies. You can almost smell the tomb mold when listening to this old school death metal style, which is accompanied by Obituary-inspired vocal grunting over shredding riffs from your dusty Entombed tapes. Their 2020 effort, Luan, featuring art by Guang Yang (Ritual Day), illustrates the tales of bloody war found within the album’s theme.
If you love Whitechapel and wished more deathcore bands sounded like them, especially vocally — pre-Our Endless War era, with less repetitive choruses and more general dissonance — then Taiwan has you covered with their reproduction of the style in the form of SIDEFFECT. Aggressive song topics that read like the singer is on the brink of a fist fight are the norm. For more brutal deathcore, also check out Beyond Cure, a band who were compared to Suicide Silence early in their career before they molded themselves into something quite unique.
Maggot Colony 蠅蛆殖民地
If you thought Slipknot’s “Pulse of the Maggots” was a little lacking, this brutal “mind twisting” death metal act has you covered. These boys take upon the ear as if it were a severed lump of meat on the lawn and infest it with a writhing, festering, squirmy onslaught which is never quite satisfied until the flesh has been stripped bare. Their recent claim to fame has been opening for Cryptopsy on the Taiwan date of their Asian tour, giving them something to brag about.
As if annihilating infants wasn’t enough, now the poor fetuses are subject to slicing! Pathological goregrind band Fetus Slicer take the listener into an uncomfortable place, with albums like Rotten Infant Phenomenon feeling like a trip to an abandoned abortion clinic which wasn’t cleaned thoroughly. The sound is dense and smothers you like a chloroform-soaked rag. Grim subject matter aside, these Taiwanese lads are technically sound and play with surgeon-like precision. Just don’t play their album at a baby shower.
Gore Pot – 血麻
Gorepot (血麻, the Mandarin characters meaning blood and hemp) add a stoner metal element to the extremities of grind. The band started as a one-man project, but more members joined later to sit around the bong. Some albums use weed tropes for album titles (In Pot We Trust, All You Can Smoke) while others embrace the humorous or violent side of their moniker (School Girl Sashimi or the ominously titled Things Asians Do When They Are Done With Homework). Most of their album art is done by Necrodeviant, who adds an ’80s-inspired sword and sleaze touch which comes across quite psychedelic. The music itself rips harder than any bong I’ve smoked.
Fatuous Rump 笨屁肥臀
Behold the mask pit in the first ever music video for the song “Disintegrated Embodiment” by slamming, brutal death grinders Fatuous Rump. This is what shows could very well be like in the “new normal” as Taiwan has pretty much put the pandemic behind them. The beastly sound of Fatuous Rump is produced by three gentlemen from Taipei who spent time in Gorepot and Maggot Colony. Here, they gleefully vomit out groove-oriented slam which instigates some serious head bobbing. Check out their 2017 effort Propagation of the Foul, a 25-minute dump truck of slam riffs and blast beat boulders ready to unload on the listeners head, or have a listen to 2019’s Brutality for that times two.
Guttural Corpora Cavernosa
Waiting for the bubbling bong hit of the intro track to end during Guttural Corpora Cavernosa’s album, You Should Have Died When I Killed You, is like anticipating a lobotomy: you aren’t sure how it’s going to hurt or what will become of your mind, but you know it’s going to be a painful and discomforting experience. How fitting that a song here is titled “See You in Disneyland,” a famous Richard Ramirez quote. The songs presented here really throw you around the room like one of his victims; no two are similar, so each song is like its own crime scene. Other titles are similarly off kilter: “They Would Wiggle and Squirm” and “Anyway, I Had a Good Time,” which you might say after the lobotomy procedure and the doctors have left the room, or if the album ends and it’s time for something more peaceful.
Emerging from the Cocoon 破繭而出
What, exactly, is violently wriggling out of the cocoon? Apparently, when listening to this band, it is not Mothra, but a violent monstrous abomination in the form of a breakdown that could stand against any of your choosing in a battle to the death. The band do have a sci-fi feel, with one song called “Event Horizon” featuring an H.R. Giger-friendly video color palette, spacey guitar parts, and lyrics like this: “Suddenly, everything returns to nothingness. A boundary that no one can trespass. Disappear. Vanish. Anti-matter. Into ashes, another quadrant.” Either from a cocoon, an alien egg, or another dimension by folding space and time, the breakdowns are coming for you.