'Black Sabbath of Asia' risk future for democracy

Taiwanese metal band Chthonic cemented their reputation as ‘the Black Sabbath of Asia’ during their 20th anniversary concert this weekend – which doubled as a political rally for frontman Freddy Lim’s election campaign.

And even though he knows it’ll be difficult, he’s vowed the band will continue if he becomes an official representative of the people.

He’s a candidate in the parliamentary elections that take place on January 16. Reports suggest he and his year-old New Power Party are likely to do well, with their policies of enhancing social freedom, advancing ecological issues and resisting the restrictive intentions of neighbouring China – which has Chthonic are banned from playing there.

Their Taipei concert, attended by 20,000 fans and seen by hundreds of thousands, was partly funded by the band selling their stage gear. It was billed as “a concert to calm the soul and defend the nation.” It can be streamed in full below.

Lim – a former chairman of Amnesty International in Taiwan – tells the Guardian: “It’s a show of how we support freedom of speech and to encourage our fans to all try their best over the coming year to change Taiwan for the better. There is a new political space and it will allow more and more young people to bring about real change.

“They don’t necessarily want to be estranged from China, but they do want to exist as different entities. Four years ago, president Ma Ying-Jeou said he would never meet with the president of China. Then he is there, shaking his hand, and without any consideration of the people’s feelings. The people of Taiwan feel let down.”

He says of the election: “This is the hard part – getting really involved and committing to that. But I have been very encouraged by fans and I felt I should do more than just protest, that I should enter the political process.

“The band have been supportive. Perhaps less supportive when they realised the songwriting was drying up a bit, but supportive again when they felt that I might actually win.”

Lim recently told TeamRock: “There are a lot of fans worried that if I get elected I won’t be able to tour as much. I will definitely continue to tour – probably not as extensively as before, but we’re still coming out with a new album next year.

“I’m hoping it’ll be out by the end of the year. I have to get elected first and then we’ll rush to record it.”

Freelance Online News Contributor

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.