01 October 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Laang – ‘Xinteng’

Taiwanese outfit Laang (of which in Chinese the name translates to  ‘Cold’), have come around to releasing their second full-length since their formation in only 2018. Since then, they have already released an EP and a previous full-length entitled ‘Hǎiyáng’ and are clearly putting in the work to crank out the music production. Describing themselves as primarily ‘Terror Black Metal’, Laang incorporate many styles from the vast well of black metal creativity including atmospheric elements and even orchestral music. In fact, their debut EP is entirely composed of orchestral versions of the tracks found on the following full-length – a very unique approach! Laang’s lyrical characteristics revolve around frontman 楊海濤’s (Yang Haitao) very personal experience of being shot during “car-jacking gone wrong” and his subsequent experience of being in a coma during his time in hospital.

Musically, as mentioned earlier, Laang takes from a multitude of black and extreme metal influences. In the first track ‘Cândàn’ for example, there is a very haunting introduction of a piano playing dissonant and spaced out notes which is a very tried and true technique to unsettle listeners. From there, you get plunged into some murky heavy metal depths that fuses an evil low bass line and some dancing melodies before a full speed black metal assault rages into play. Haitao’s vocals take centre stage and what a terrifying scream it is, the horror and trauma of the experiences detailed above start to make sense in this almost scared, but very powerful and feral voice.

On the track ‘Dòngshāng’, we again hear the dissonance but in the form of guitars this time and again launched into an aggressive storm of chaos. There are small moments of breathing room in this track and a similar technique is used in other tracks, but small instrumental breaks with string instruments or a piano that give moments of solace in the wild whirling storm.

As well as incorporating some more traditional black metal styles such as tremolo picking, harsh treble guitars and unrelenting drums, Laang also uses some more more modern techniques like heavy guitar chugs, prominent and deep bass guitars and the production is clinical, punchy and present. 

Initially, ‘Xinteng’ struggled to make a foothold into what it really was, it came together as one album but never really felt like a cohesive experience. However, after multiple cycles and play-throughs, the sheer emotion and raw explosion of feeling that Laang manages to portray is quite a profound experience and somewhat overpowers that need for a structured experience. 

Laang have produced a solid follow-up record that has seen them develop into their own style a little more than their debut, it is exhilarating, chaotic and at times, a little messy. With a little more definition and a true honing of their sound and artistic vision, Laang could quite easily become a truly exciting and captivating black metal band from an area not so well known for its mainstream black metal. Go and give it a listen as it offers a unique back story and some potent vocal performances. Also, as mentioned, check out their orchestral EP which is something to behold in itself!

Rating:

(3 / 5)

Highlights: ‘Dòngshāng’ – ‘Wǒ de Piāofú Shītǐ’

Album Released: 30/09/2021 via Talheim Records. Order here.

Find the band on: Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube | Spotify