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Tzun Tzu – The Forbidden City

Tzun Tzu
The Forbidden City
by Cherie Wong at 24 March 2020, 10:26 PM

On January 31, 2020, TZUN TZU released “The Forbidden City.” TZUN TZU is a death metal band that formed in 2003 and is located in Australia. “The Forbidden City” is the band’s sixth EP since their inception. Their first and only full-length so far is the self-titled “Tzun Tzu” released 2012. Consider this EP a teaser, because the band is currently working on their second album. TZUN TZU’s style of death metal is “ancient oriental” inspired death metal. While there are certainly elements that I would consider Asian inspired, it isn’t overwhelming like an atmospheric or symphonic band. As there are only three tracks on this EP, I will do a track by track review.

The Forbidden City” is the only new track on this EP as well as the album opener. It starts off with a brutal death metal sound. Drums batter your eardrums with blast beats and deep growls add a nice layer of murk. The guitars are quieter in the mix for most of the track, though not inaudible. The lead guitar can be heard playing jarring chords and some chuggy bits. The guitar solo is brief, but thankfully, takes center stage in the mix. The bass is not always obvious, but has good bass lines in a few instrumental sections. It has no obvious Asian inspired elements, but is a solid track nonetheless.

Kunoichi” starts with yet another brutal battering from the drums. I do wish the drums had a heftier tone. Moments of the band’s oriental inspiration shine through intermittently through the first half of the track. In the middle, there is an interlude of an Asian inspired melody that wouldn’t be out of place played on a mandolin. It doesn’t overtake the track and even leads to a slow and heavy instrumental section. That heavy section then transitions into a shredding guitar solo. “Kunoichi” was originally on an EP of the same title originally released in 2008. Compared to the original 2008 version, the new version has a more polished production. Additionally, the new version does away with the clean female vocals in the second half of the old version.

Ko’Muso” is the last track. Again, the track is fast and brutal. In the middle of the track, it comes to a quick halt before starting up at a more measured mid-tempo pace. There is another shredding guitar solo before closing out the song with a slow fade. “Ko’Muso” was originally on a 2009 split with the now split-up Australian death metal band ALTARS. Similar to “Kunoichi,” the original version of “Ko’Muso” has a bit more of a raw production.

Overall, I recommend this album to death metal fans. Though TZUN TZU says that they play “ancient oriental death metal,” their music on this EP isn’t overly melodic or symphonic. They could have easily gone overboard with the Asian-inspired melodies, but I am glad they didn’t. It is difficult to strike a balance between mimicry and an inspired musical composition, but TZUN TZU seems to have accomplished a good balance.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. The Forbidden City
2. Kunoichi
3. Ko’Muso
Don Taylor – Lead Guitar, Vocals, Composition
Adam Ritchie – Bass Guitar
Alan Catman – Drums
Record Label: Lavadome Productions


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