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Laang – Hǎiyáng Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 01 March 2019, 7:29 AM

LAANG 冷 is a black metal band formed in Keelung City 基隆市 Taiwan, born from horrifying experiences of what lies beyond life by the band’s member Yáng Tāohǎi after being shot during a car-jacking gone wrong. During the following weeks after being shot, Tāohǎi experienced what he can best describe as “a place beyond Hell” while in a coma in the hospital. This world beyond death that he experienced was one of incomprehensible terror and desolation beyond explanation. The band’s debut album “Hǎiyáng” 海洋 encapsulates this horrifying otherworld of emptiness, inhuman madness, and crushing terror.

“Chaoyue Diyu” leads off the album. Ominous tones lurk in the background, painting the start of a very dark and dangerous experience. Dissonant tones ring out from an un-tuned piano, and then they drop a heavy riff onto your lap, murky and menacing. “Shenyuan” comes in like a storm. I imagine Yáng Tāohǎi waking up in his head and wondering what is going on. He is alive, or is he? Frightening images flash before his eyes. The vocals are earnest and the sound is harrowing. The music pauses after the half way mark with dejected noise, as I imagine Yáng Tāohǎi realizes what is going on, and there is no way out.

“Hailang” is a short instrumental, with frightening noises in the background. All else is drowned out, and you are left with only your state of consciousness. Harrowing piano notes cover the forefront, while the background builds with thoughts of confusion and rage. “Cangliang” opens with deep Black Metal vocals and a hypnotic set of piano notes. He belts out in rage at times and in whispers at other times, almost as if a second voice is occupied in his head. The lead guitars create a scary experience, existing just above the main riff like specters in your closet. In “Yan,” it’s almost as if Yáng Tāohǎi has found a moment of peace, or is he beginning to lose all hope. It has a sad, slow tone with despondent vocals and piano.

“Ji” has a stalwart tone from the start, ominous and solemn, with firey Black Metal vocals that taunt you. He builds varies soundscapes here, some are melodic and alluring while others are cold and biting. It shows very skillful songwriting. “Yun Mie” might be the point where he realizes the entirety of what happened and what state he is in. The song is very dark and full of anger and rage. There is a powerful mid-section here and the entire song sounds very mighty. “Zidan Kong” closes this nightmare experience of an album, with suppressive tones and angry background noise. At times the song pauses to allow for some reflection, which must be a painful experience for Yáng Tāohǎi. It builds in layers and then piano picks up the main melody line, ending in brutal and dominating guitars.

Overall, I found this album matching perfectly with the subject matter. Yáng Tāohǎi relives a very painful experience through the angry and hopeless tones on the album, and builds them with feelings of fear, confusion, and rage. The variety of techniques that he uses suggest that he is a gifted and thoughtful songwriter, and I was very happy to listen to the album in the context he provided. It’s a very personal experience that I cannot imagine having to live through. I highly recommend you give this album your time, and become immersed in his nightmare.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Chaoyue Diyu
2. Shenyuan
3. Hailang
4. Cangliang
5. Yan
6. Ji
7. Yun Mie
8. Zidan Kong
Yáng Tāohǎi – Everything
Heathen – Guest Vocals on Track Six
Record Label: Talheim Records


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