• Holding the Mongolian folk rock banner high - A review of Nine Treasures' "Wisdom Eyes"

    Nine Treasures - Wisdom Eyes (2017)

    A few years ago, Mongolian folk metal was a really big thing. Every second new Chinese metal band seemed to play this type of music and new albums popped out on obscure websites on a regular base. The trend even spread to other countries and soon there were even Canadian bands playing Sino-Mongolian folk metal. Ironically enough, not one single band of this genre actually came from Mongolia. Nowadays, many of these bands haven't released anything for a while, emigrated to other countries and have become a pale copy of their former selves or have moved on to play something different. Right now, Nine Treasures is the only band that is still holding the Mongolian folk metal banner firmly, highly and proudly.

    That being said, Nine Treasures is one of the mellower genre bands. The band's riffs are often closer to heavy rock or proto metal than to actual metal riffs. The closing riffs of the epic ''Us'' and the main riffs of the vivid album closer ''The Stubborn'' are heavy but that's it. These heavier soundscapes often don't harmonize with the folk instrumentation to be honest. The songs are either dominated by balalaika and morin khuur sounds or they focus on simplistic mid-paced to up-tempo heavy rock riffs. Both elements rarely complement each other. Nine Treasures should rather be called a band with both folk and rock songs. Ironically enough, that's what makes them sound differently from their numerous former genre colleagues. Even the throat vocals sound much more accessible and melodic than what other groups have to offer.

    Wisdom Eyes is diversified and entertaining enough to remain interesting for about forty minutes. The opener ''Ten Years'' manages to have both a melancholic and an uplifting tone thanks to longing folk sounds and inspired vocals. The heavier middle section doesn't really fit in though and does't add anything to the song which is often the case on this release. Nine Treasures had some memorable hit songs on previous outputs which isn't the case here but the opener comes closest to a catchy and distinctive song.

    My personal favorite on the new album is probably ''The End of the World'' with its longing melodies, diversified vocal performance and dynamic shifts between slow, epic and fast passages. This song represents everything Nine Treasures stands for. If you like this song, you're going to like this band and the entire album.

    If you like folk rock, you are going to appreciate the band and it's inspired release. If you are looking for actual folk metal, you might find this release too mellow. Nine Treasures' tracks are uplifting, short and melodic and that's what makes them stand out. Wisdom Eyes is an authentic, distinctive and entertaining release that is easy to digest but that won't really impress you emotionally or technically or try out anything new. It's good for what it is and genre fans will be satisfied but that's pretty much it.

    Final rating: 75%

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