Several peculiarities make this Laang-branded debut worth a listen. Meanwhile, the geographical provenance, although Taiwan’s is by no means a first in black music, but it is still something unusual; in addition to this Yáng Tāohái, the musician who single-handedly curated this project, releasing Háiyáng several times after waking up from a coma following a car accident, decided to describe that state of the antechamber of death that he says he experienced while in that state. Whether the whole thing is true or a pure compositional artifice cannot be sworn to, the fact remains that the album unfolds under the banner of symphonic black metal, albeit very sui generis, full of emotionally remarkable passages interspersed with others of a purely ambient nature. In fact, what is striking about the work is the ability of the Asian musician to lend a certain originality to his proposal, precisely because the only partial adherence to the patterns of the genre suffers from coming from a scene decidedly distant (not only geographically) from the best known ones: the result is a series of tracks with a good melodic impact but actually with a rather varied and evocative content, thanks also to the contribution of the piano that in more than one case replaces a more algid synth. Particular is the use of vocals, which is not a usual screaming of black matrix but something more ungainly (accentuated in this sense by a mother tongue whose adaptation to metal is all to be verified) that seems, however, well suited to the dramatic context that ours wants to evoke, whose peak is in my opinion touched with the remarkable progressions of a really peculiar track like Cāngliáng. Háiyáng is a striking work in its own way that I think deserves the chance of listening by fans of less canonical black with exotic provenances.

2018 – Talheim Records