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Report: Metal United World Wide, Taipei (Taiwan)

in Saturday, 5 May 2018 at Pipe Live Music
by Martin Knap

Metal United World Wide – Taipei, a concert affiliated to the global project Metal United World Wide, took place on the 5th of May at Pipe, a small venue that used to be a part of a water treatment facility on the bank of river Xindian. The riverbanks around this location are a weekend recreation area frequented by families, and the little piazza next to the club with food kiosks is becoming an increasingly popular place to get food and drinks. Taipei is well known for its food and CNN even called it “the city of gluttony”, and this place surely lives up to this reputation. There are five bands on the program tonight and the evening kicks off really early (at 6pm) because there is another gig booked for 11 o’clock.

At 6 pm the small venue, whose capacity is something around 200 people, is full, with a bunch of black clad people also chilling on a sofa and some concrete benches in front of the club. The atmosphere is nice inside the venue, and just visible form the outside across the bar, MINSTREL are playing their set. This band plays a rather flowery brand of Power Metal, and in recent years they started to add oriental instruments and melodies into the arrangements of their songs. The band plays well and the singer Raku knows how to hit the high notes. It’s a good opening band to warm people before something heavier hits them over the head.

The second on the bill is a metal core band ENLIGHTEN, who start off their set with full power. The corpulent vocalist has a really great set of pipes and he certainly doesn’t lack the energy and attitude. People who were still loitering outside, waiting for the more hard-hitting music to start, are moving in. ENLIGHTEN fall onto the Poppier side of the Metal Core spectrum: heavy riffs and hardcore screaming build the ground for big emotional choruses – you know the drill. The band has the necessary chops, the singer has a good stage presence and the melodies that he and the bass player, who also sings some lead vocals, sing don’t come off as cheesy. The audience vibes with them, some movement in the crowd, even lighter moshing, can be seen in the crowd.

Next up on stage are ASHEN. This three-piece has been active for some time now, and can be said to be one of the “big three” of Taipei Grindcore scene, alongside BRAIN CORROSION and STENCH OF LUST. It’s hard to get the attention of media and labels with Extreme Metal here, especially with the kind of strict Death/Grind that ASHEN play, but these guys are passionate about what they do and they are not the kind of people who compromise their artistic integrity. Their latest material incorporates influences from other genres, but this experimentation is always in line with what they stand for. The band is well-rehearsed, recently they played a gig as support for ROTTEN SOUND and since then they stayed in top shape. Initially the response of the crowd is a bit subdued, maybe because of the dark mood and seriousness of the music, but soon they settle in and go along with it.
After all the doom and gloom brought by ASHEN it was time for something more emotional and melodic. GREEDY BLACK HOLE were the true stars of the evening I think. The band plays a rather accessible mix of Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, and is quite popular here in the scene. Their melodism can have a bit of a J-pop ring to it. They get recognition from Metal fans as well as press attention, and recently they supported ARCH ENEMY at their gig here in Taipei. What helps to build their visibility is also the charisma of the singer Xiangxiang or Yvonne, as she is known under her English name, who has all the qualities to stand out. She is also a well-know advocate for gay rights, which is a hot political topic of the moment here in Taiwan. GREEDY BLACK HOLE captivated the audience with their energy on stage; one can tell that this is a band is ready for prime time. Both the band and the singer put on a great performance, we get a hefty portion of guitar shredding, Yvonne oozes with confidence and does a great job at singing both growls and clean parts. At the end she jumps of stage and sings among the crowd and a circle of people putting arms on each other’s shoulders and headbanging in unison like some kind of Amazon tribe.

The closing band is the rather popular formation EMERGING FROM THE COCOON (in Chinese their name doesn’t sound so overdone as in English), who play Deathcore in the vein of THY ART IS MURDER or WHITECHAPPEL. Like the bands who inspired them they put a lot of emphasis on atmosphere and they don’t forgo melody like some more extreme bands. The onslaught of creepy atmosphere and monstrous riffs and growls are crushing the audience. Music is taking over and bodies are moving in unison with the rhythms. Spirits are high and the crowd shows its appreciation to one of the organizers Eric Lee by carrying him around the venue.

The gig was a little bit rushed, at ten people start to exit the venue, but that’s just the reality of a hectic Asian metropolis, and overall, the Taipei scene showed itself in a good light. After the show a few of the concertgoers stayed on the piazza for drinks. At one of the kiosks with pizza, the owner lets a group of metalheads play Brutal Death Metal form their phones. The speakers are blasting really loud and after the first song a bunch of South Africans in rugby jerseys sitting nearby start lo look a bit aggravated. One young lady goes to the kiosk and asks the owner if he could play METALLICA instead of Brutal Death Metal. He puts on “Enter Sandman” and everybody seems happy. A bunch of little kids riding around on scooters stop and groove to the music. Future metalheads in training?

Photo: 邱律銘 (ZL Photography Team /  ZL Ltd.)

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Edited 30 January 2023

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