• 九宝 / Nine Treasures - 九宝 / Nine Treasures (2013)

    Chinese folk metal band Nine Treasures is back with its second full length effort: an eponymously titled work that was released physically at the end of the year 2013 and digitally half a year later. The six young men from Inner Mongolia continue their harmonious mixture of Mongolian folk music combined with energizing and gripping metal riffs. A few things have changed since the band’s first album Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor, as the band is now sounds more inspired by heavy metal riffs than by thrash or even punk. The songwriting has also evolved, as the new tracks all sound slightly different and not as exchangeable as the songs from the first output. While the band has kept its joyous and liberating atmosphere, the new songs also include more longing and melancholic passages, adding new dimension to the sound. Nine Treasures includes nine original songs and reaches a length slightly above thirty-five minutes (which, compared to the debut, is a step in the right direction). All in all, the band’s sophomore effort sounds like an improved and more dynamic version of its first strike. If you enjoyed Arvan Ald Guulin Honshoor, you will adore the new record.

    All tracks on this album are enjoyable and there’s no filler to be found. My first personal favorite is “Tes River’s Hymn”, which opens with vivid percussion, almost industrial-sounding guitar riffs, and a bass drive that pushes the track forward. The fast and raspy vocals are not far from the traditional throat singing that defines an important part of Mongolian folk music. The mixture of modern and traditional elements works very well in this track, which manages to sound unique and distinctive from similar bands like Tengger Cavalry. Fans of bands like Korpiklaani and Metsatöll should also feel right at home listening to this song.

    “Sonsii” is more folk oriented and features many beautiful melodies, as well as a really catchy chorus. This song is the obvious single choice on the album, and you probably won’t forget its chorus anytime soon. Fans of The Samans or even Eluveitie should definitely dig this song, as the instrumental middle heads for extreme metal territory. The interesting thing is that the song always remains accessible and melodic.

    “Fable Of Mangas” is one of the band’s most progressive songs. The galloping riffs lead from darker territories to joyous tones and back again. This song never gets boring and is more passionate than the other tracks. The vocals are cleaner than usual and experiment a bit here and there with almost spoken word verses. The chorus goes back to the band’s catchy throat singing, and ties the song coherently together. The middle part comes along with a beautiful electric guitar solo instead of the typical, folk-drive interlude. This track really proves how much the song writing of Nine Treasures has improved in only a year and a half between the two studio albums.

    Another song that needs to be pointed out is the instrumental “The Dream About The Ancient City”. The song is relaxing and exotic, but also manages to be engaging and joyous. It immediately made me think of a Mongolian version of Nightwish’s “Last Of The Wilds”, which is one of my favorite instrumentals. This great track is anything but a filler.

    It’s a pleasure to listen to this record, and it really puts a smile on my face. Nine Treasures has evolved from its solid debut to deliver a very strong sophomore effort. The songwriting has become more distinct, experimental, and open-minded. The band has improved everywhere and delivers great melodies, more progressive songs, and strong instrumental tracks. Fans of bands like Ego Fall, Eluveitie, Korpiklaani, Metsatöll, Nightwish, Tengger Cavalry, Voodoo Kungfu, and the likes should definitely give Nine Treasure’s second output a few well deserved spins.

    Originallt written for Black Wind Metal

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