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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Death metal politician unleashes battle cry on Taiwan national day

Taiwanese band Chthonic, led by first-term lawmaker Freddy Lim on vocals, released its latest album on Wednesday

Chthonic’s album is called Battlefields of Asura in English, but its title in Chinese is a little more pointed: Politics
Chthonic’s album is called Battlefields of Asura in English, but its title in Chinese is a little more pointed: Politics

As Taiwan celebrates its national day on Wednesday, President Tsai Ing-wen got a thunderous reminder that she will have to contend with the voice of youthful rebellion at local elections in November.

Taiwanese death metal band Chthonic, led by first-term lawmaker Freddy Lim on vocals, dropped its latest album on Wednesday. Lim is one of the co-founders of the New Power Party born in 2015 out of anti-China student protests. Contesting its first regional elections this year, the party has 41 candidates running for local council seats across the island.

While the band’s album is called Battlefields of Asura in English, its title in Chinese is a little more pointed: Politics.

The NPP is proving a draw for younger Taiwanese who want a more decisive break from China. That’s a problem for Ms Tsai who – despite also supporting Taiwan’s independence – has lost traction among younger voters frustrated with the slow pace of progress on issues such as marriage equality and political reform.

Tsai hosts Wednesday’s national day celebrations at a time when ties with China are at their lowest ebb in years. Angered by Ms Tsai’s refusal to acknowledge her country being as part of China, Beijing has steadily increased the pressure on her administration by upping the number of military flights around the island and pressuring multinational companies to avoid referring to Taiwan as a country.

Lim’s album reflects the growing sense of unease. Featuring foreboding lyrics such as “Darkness surrounds, Endless seas as yet unseen, Death’s fugue abounds”, its songs explore themes such as resistance and freedom through a mix of Taiwanese mythology and history. The track A Crimson Sky’s Command is about a god on the warpath.

“It represents the courage we need to face, confront and overcome our own weakness,” Lim said on Tuesday. “That’s what I’ve learned in my political career.”