Laang, a Taiwanese black metal duo, will release their new album ‘Riluo’ on November 24th, 2023, via Talheim Records. Meaning ‘cold’, Laang was born from an unearthly near-death experience, and the post-traumatic stress suffered by vocalist-guitarist Haitao Yang. He was shot in the head during a car-jacking gone wrong.
While medically dead, he experienced nightmare hallucinations of an otherworld, a “place beyond Hell”. Laang was created as a method of externalizing and coping with the trauma; Riluo specifically conceptually explores the experience of dying, and the subsequent feelings of detachment from life and others as one copes with trauma.
The experience of Haitao Yang might not be something specifically relatable, but the overall theme of trauma and detachment is. The depth of Laang comes from this, but they also infuse their blackened metal with so many unique elements that this dark album does capture the imagination.
There’s a vein of aggressive intensity running through Riluo, but Laang layer their music with emotionally wrought melodies. Singing in Chinese Mandarin, utilising traditional instruments like an erhu & a guzheng, then adding orchestral elements. While death might transcend culture, Laang draw from theirs to create something wholly unique.
It’s a furious and frantic start with Baoyu, Laang setting the bar for forcefulness high right away. From that brash opener to Liuxue de Taiyang, and here, they show just how scathing their black metal riffs can be. Even while creating something that burns with melodic post-style passion. Then along comes Honghai, a track that brims with guitar garishness, dark symphonic detail, and has some of the album’s most savage sounding vocals. Before the halfway point is reached with the absolute epic devastation caused by Zhemo.
Riluo is all about unrelenting heaviness, but it’s the layers of detail that keeps it so compelling. The layers of melancholy and poignancy, so strong and so powerful, within the soundscape that is Gui Xiang and the utter carnage that comes from the longest track on the album, Yequ, is every bit the proof that this album is extremely special.
Two more heady and heavy offerings left, Laang keep the fires burning brightly in the darkness with Juren, and the title track. The former is one of the more eerie examples of their symphonic power, whereas the latter is one of the more menacing examples of their black metal nastiness. Albeit, with some surprise melodious moments – just check out the clean singing.
It really doesn’t get more feral, more elaborate, and more thrilling than this. Laang continue to create black metal unlike anyone else and Riluo is the proof that they’re only getting stronger and stronger.
Laang – Riluo Track Listing:
1. Baoyu 暴雨
2. Liuxue de Taiyang 流血的太陽
3. Honghai 紅海
4. Zhemo 折磨
5. Gui Xiang 歸鄉
6. Yequ 夜曲
7. Juren 巨人
8. Riluo 日落
Laang 冷 - Riluo (Talheim Records)
The Final Score - 8/10