Metal Chick of the Month – Doris Yeh

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Set Fire to the Island, Doris!

There’s nothing better than starting this year with a special post about the charming musician and activist Doris Yeh. Born in Taipei (or Taipei City), Taiwan on September 19, 1976 (at least, this is the date I found after a lot of effort!) and nicknamed “Thunder Tears” in her band Chthonic, this Taiwanese beauty is a good example of how music and imagery walk hand in hand on the path to success nowadays. Her exotic Asian traces, together with the powerful heavy music played by Chthonic, are leading her and the band to stardom not only in the East, but in the whole world of music.

Doris herself doesn’t like to define Chthonic’s music style as Extreme, Death or Black Metal. In fact, she prefers calling what their band does as “Orient Metal”, especially because the Western definition of heavy music is not the same as the one in Asian countries. We have to agree with her and the rest of the band that what Chthonic do is totally different from the traditional North American and European Thrash/Death Metal, because despite being heavy music they add many different elements (like the interesting instrument Erhu) and have a unique way to express themselves visually.

In one of her interviews, Doris said she used to play the piano when she was a child, and kept playing it for about 10 years before starting playing bass. She then joined Chthonic in 1999, replacing bassist Xiao-Yu, recording her first album with the band, 9th Empyrean. After that, she recorded the albums Relentless Recurrence (2002), Seediq Bale (2005) and Mirror of Retribution (2009), but her best albums with Chthonic are without any doubt Takasago Army (2011) and their most recent album, Bú-Tik (2013), where it’s easy to notice her improvement as a musican and her growing importance to the band’s current success.

Giants like Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails and Slayer, and more obscure bands such as Emperor and At The Gates, are among her biggest influences in music, and when asked about a great female bass player she enjoys, Doris mentioned the American alternative rock musician Kim Gordon, showing she’s not only connected to heavy music in her life.

Doris Yeh’s onstage performance is always amazing, not only due to her talent as a musician but also because of her beauty and energy. I had the privilege to see Chthonic live in Toronto during Arch Enemy’s North American Khaos Tour 2011, which also had DevilDriver and Skeletonwitch as opening acts, and I was impressed by her nonstop headbanging and total commitment to the band’s music and to the fans.

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After a couple of years with Chthonic, Doris became the band’s official spokesperson and business manager, taking over the responsibilities from the band’s founder and lead singer Freddy Lim. She is also seen as a sex symbol (surprise, surprise!) and often works as a top model too, appearing on the cover of different magazines in Taiwan and in the rest of the world, like Body Magazine, Revolver Magazine and FHM Magazine. Not only that, Doris also joins her Metal friends Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz in the world of activism by supporting the Awakening Foundation, a Taiwanese organization founded in 1982 which main goal is promoting women’s rights and self-awareness.

In October 2012, Chthonic released a very special 96-page book of sexy photos of Doris taken at the Green Island in Taiwan, entitled Set Fire to the Island, which also includes a single that according to the band is a “symphony with piano, strings, and wind music, so that you may enjoy it not only with your eyes, but also with your ears.” Well, I still prefer Chthonic’s regular music, but I must admit that those astonishing pictures of Doris together with some good symphonic music are a delight for any fan of Chthonic’s unique bassist.

Equipment
Bass: ESP – Andromeda (5-string signature bass)
Amp – head : Ampeg SVT 450
Amp – cab : Ampeg SVT 410HLF
Effects: MXR M80 BASS DI

Doris Yeh’s Official Facebook page
Doris Yeh’s Official Twitter

“‘Dream big’ won’t make you a great person, ‘Do it’ will.” – Doris Yeh

Album Review – Chthonic / Bú-Tik (2013)

Chthonic prove one more time why they are currently the best Heavy Metal band of the East.

Rating3

Chthonic-Bu-TikWhen a band reaches a very high standard like Chthonic with Takasago Army, the expectations for their future albums become so high that even if they launch something really cool, many people will still think they are not a good band anymore. I’m pretty sure lots of fans are complaining everywhere in the world about Bú-Tik because it’s not a “Takasago Army”, but always remember it isn’t supposed to be so.

Bú-Tik is an evolution, it is fresh music for people who love speed, strength and awesome lyrics, without being just a copy of the band’s old material. Of course many elements are still there like the erhu (a Chinese two-stringed violin), which is a crucial part of the band’s soul, and the lyrics focused on all the war and revolution that happened in Taiwan, but each song is different and has its own meaning and intensity.

Regarding the album art, the band tried to represent “the idea of an armed body and mind” in the front cover, which looks a lot sexier and less brutal than what they used to do in the past, but it’s great anyway. About the music itself, Freddy Lim does an amazing job with his screaming, the beautiful Doris Yeh seems to be even more important to the band with her intense bass lines, and the drummer Dani Wang is a beast as usual in all album tracks! I just think there should be more guitar solos in some of the songs, because although I love the sound of the erhu and the keyboards together, a good guitar solo always adds a lot of energy to heavy music. And let’s not forget the Intro and the Outro of the album, which together do a great job getting us pumped for what’s coming next and then showing us that the “war” is over.

Chthonic+BuTik++Album+Promo+2013+PNGThe lyrics are also an essential part of the whole album, either when they’re entirely based on historical facts such as the 228 Massacre in 1947, or with simple but strong lines such as “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese / Only justice will bring you peace”. Chthonic doesn’t usually write generic lyrics, an issue that happens with most of the Metal bands nowadays.

To sum up, a very good album that deserves the attention of all heavy music lovers. Going back to my initial idea, unless the music is a complete piece of junk like Metallica’s St. Anger, I always believe we should embrace the evolution of our favorite bands. And Chthonic is far from producing something so bad as St. Anger.

Best moments of the album: Supreme Pain for the Tyrant and Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace, especially if you watch the superb videos they shot for both songs. Those are two of the most creative music videos I’ve seen in many years.

Worst moments of the album: Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire and Resurrection Pyre just fall flat in my opinion. Maybe it’s the English version of the album that does that to those songs, because I’ve listened to the Taiwanese versions and they sound a lot more powerful.

Released in 2013 Spinefarm Records / Universal Music

Track listing
1. Arising Armament (Intro) 2:27
2. Supreme Pain for the Tyrant 4:45
3. Sail into the Sunset’s Fire 4:00
4. Next Republic 4:12
5. Rage of my Sword 4:37
6. Between Silence and Death 4:38
7. Resurrection Pyre 4:59
8. Set Fire to the Island 3:47
9. Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace 5:22
10. Undying Rearmament (Outro) 1:49

Band members
Freddy Lim, “Left Face of Maradou” – lead vocals, erhu
Doris Yeh, “Thunder Tears” – bass, backing vocals
Jesse Liu, “The Infernal” – guitars, backing vocals
Dani Wang, “Azathothian Hands” – drums
CJ Kao, “Dispersed Fingers” – keyboards, synthesizer