Mongol - Chosen By Tengri (2014)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Mongol is a folk metal band with influences of melodic death and some black metal vocalizations here and there. The whole concept of the band turns around Mongolian culture, but the septet hails from Devon in Alberta, and so is a young Canadian band. Founded back in 2009, the septet released an EP in 2010, followed by debut record The Altan Urug in 2012, which experimented with German film samples and convinced me with its clever use of alternative instrumentation, such as accordion and especially banjo. Mongol is now back with a new full length effort entitled Chosen By Tengri, which is well worth your attention if you care at all for Asian folklore and history.
The songs on this record can roughly be separated into three categories. Some tracks are above mid-tempo, and employ a lot of melodic death metal instead of focusing too much on the folky delivery. Vivid opener “Clans Carve The Way“ is a good example of this, and fans of bands such as Children Of Bodom should like these songs quite well.
The second variety of songs here is much more elaborate, and incorporates an atmosphere that is supported by multiple male vocal efforts in the choruses, as well as occasional female guest vocals that add a certain grace to the raw and romantic Mongolian folklore. Title track “Chosen By Tengri“ and “The Last Ride Of The Merkits“ (the second of which comes around with almost mechanical vocal passages that recall Mongolian throat singing) are perfect examples of this category, and probably also the best songs on this release. Fans of bands such as Eluveitie and Arkona should dig these tracks.
The third type of song here is even more interesting. These concentrate more on lengthy instrumental sections that develop a longing and nature-bound atmosphere. The “folk” instruments also have more space in these songs. The best example here is the closing “Whispering Winds“, where the title is pretty self-explanatory. It’s maybe not the best or most representative track on the album, but rather by far the most original and outstanding. It recalls several very authentic folk metal bands from Inner Mongolia such as Tengger Cavalry or Nine Treasures. I sincerely hope that the band will come around with more similar song ideas in the future.
In comparison to the band’s first release, Mongol seems to have found its magic potion, and the songwriting feels more coherent and mature. On the other hand, I liked the first record’s more experimental side, and think that it employed the folk instruments better than the follow up, while the metal passages sound much better from a melodic and technical point of view on the new album. Both releases are of a good to very good quality, but I slightly prefer the first, though the second can still be seen as a step forward. On a side note, I want to congratulate Jose Arias, who created the cover artwork for Chosen By Tengri, which I find to be authentic, beautiful, epic, and would make for an amazing flag or poster motif as well. If you care for more and more popular Mongolian folk metal, or just folk metal in general, Mongol is a must.
3.5 // 5