Extreme Metal Changing the Face of Taiwanese Politics

Up until last year, Freddy Lim was known in Taiwan and across the world’s heavy metal scene as the lead singer of Chthonic - dubbed the Black Sabbath of Asia. 

Sporting tattoos, a pony tail, and most often seen performing with corpse face paint depicting the “eight generations of hell”, his was a face that stood out from the crowd from the offset. After all, as Lim points out, “there was absolutely no metal or extreme metal in Taiwan. People thought it wasn’t a very realistic goal to try and make a career from it but we worked very hard.” He was incentivised by anger, particularly related to the period of oppressive Marshall Law in Taiwan which lasted 38 years – the longest of anywhere in the world. 

Group2_S_3000x2000.jpgChthonic went on to huge success, signing a record deal in London and touring the world. But in January of this year, Lim’s trajectory took an even more ambitious turn. He ditched his leather trousers for a finely cut suit, and became a member of Parliament, representing Taipei, defeating a Chinese National Party member who had held his seat for two decades by more than 6000 votes. It was an election which swept pro-democracy candidates to power, and has signified a new wave of change in the country. Lim represents the recently established New Power Party, which is fast becoming the ‘third’ party in Taiwan. “I see myself as a torch,” he explains. “To let the young people know that this is something that is doable, that is viable. And that they too can enter politics and create change.” The party looks to tackle issues that face young people today like stagnated salary, inequality in society, and gay rights and marriage. “A lot of new ideas”, he adds. “Instead of sharing a long article about something, like a traditional politician might, I use music videos. That’s how a lot of the youth have become engaged.”

Cutting an unconventional figure, it was hard at first for Lim to be taken seriously by his political colleagues. “We play very loud music in the office every day,” he laughs. “At first they were not respectful. They would be very harsh. But now they’re looking at the bigger picture in ways they’ve not thought about before.” In fact, some have even called for Chthonic’s track ‘Next Republic’ to become the new national anthem with lyrics: ‘for our proud new nation we lay our souls to rest, for our sacred vision invaders lives we quell, for our sovereign country, we face the martyrs' test’…“but then others said it was a bit difficult because all the lyrics are screamed” he chuckles.

photo1.jpgWith a schedule revolving heavily around parliament, the future of Chthonic is in somewhat of a flux. “The band were in an awkward position because they really, really wanted me to win, but they were also really afraid that it would affect the band negatively.” They have had to reject a lot of tour offers, but when he can fit it in, Lim assures his fans that the band will be releasing a new EP next year. And this week the band reunited to be honoured at the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards in London, alongside the likes of Lemmy and Motorhead - recognition which registers deeply. “It shows that metal heads are worthy, despite what it might seem from the outside. I want young people to know that metal heads can shape society.” 

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