OK, if you are already aware of this Mongolian horde then you may think that the title here looks a little familiar. Yes, indeed this was the title of their debut full length back in 2010, but no this is not a reissue. Nor is it a remaster, or even strictly speaking a re-recording. It’s more a reimagining, and one to the point that it might well be treated as an entirely new album inspired by the original, now the band and mastermind Natur have fully developed their unique, vibrant style. Heck it barely even shares any of the original track list…
If you still haven’t heard Mongolia and Folk Metal’s best kept secret, then this is a fine place to start and I’ll assume you’re the audience. And by the way, that galloping sound you hear? That’s the sound of those who do know this lot heading off to buy the album.
To say Tengger Cavalry are unique is not a rash statement: They really are. Combining traditional hand made Mongolian instruments and folk music melodies, throat singing, black metal riffing and attack and traditional heavy metal breaks produces a dizzying riot of swirling, galloping music, epic stylings and utterly heathen atmosphere.
After the drum led intro ‘Hymn Of The Mongolian Totem’ which also introduces us to their slightly lower register riff sound and the glorious throat singing we are bounced into the track ‘Tengger Cavalry’ itself with its wild interplay between the traditional instruments carrying the vibrant melody on mandolin and fiddle and the powerful electric work. It really is the sound of distant plains and proud, mounted warriors, one that incorporates so many horse sounds you really think they are there in wild.
‘Horseman’ doesn’t break the link but has slightly more introspective breaks to it. ‘Rootless’, a short instrumental, is a sad piece full of longing and loss and this eases into the serious, honour and respect filled ‘Wolf Ritual’. Thoughtful in the way that Melechesh can be; a darkness wholly different from the northern darkness.
There’s something about Blood Sacrifice Shaman that is a darker more serious side to the band. Previous album, the utterly magnificent ‘Ancient Call’ was a full blooded, boisterous whirlwind cavalry charge with manes flying and swords flashing in the sun. This is now as though you have been honoured and taken back to their camp and are introduced to the full bloodied culture; religion, blood sacrifice, animal spirit totems and all. The title track exemplifies this; a shadowy brooding riff with eerie vocals and the haunting fiddle sound laying over it.
The other thing about Tengger Cavalry is how comfortable they now are with extended instrumental passages, or songs like ‘Hero’ where these the vocals are mostly the throat singing and some crying sounds in the background but it is still a wonderful, bloodied song that just transports you. You never listen to this band and wonder about them playing it in a studio, it always leads you to places you have never been, never seen.
So there you go. Another piece of unique, committed music (check out their Facebook account if you want to know how the Chinese state views their music and metal and Mongolian culture too), another album of music that genuinely takes your mind and heart and soul places. Darker and more brooding than Ancient Call; these cavalry folk are not on any one trick pony. Time to join that charge…