Tengger Cavalry has by now released five studio records since its debut. Nationally and internationally, the band has grown more famous in the last three years than most other Chinese bands ever do in their entire careers.
The intriguing aspect about the band is that they mix Mongolian folk music, traditional throat singing, and legendary tales of the people of that fascinating country with some extreme metal influences. The use of two traditional Mongolian bowed string instruments called morin khuur and one long-necked lute called a dombra, gives the band a completely unique sound. Tengger Cavalry takes an equivalent inspiration from, and has a similar impact on Mongolian culture as Eluveitie have in Switzerland, for example.
Like their Swiss colleagues, this band has some pretty heavy tracks, such as the madly thrashing “Galloping Towards The Great Land” or the destructive “Summon The Warrior”. Both of which feature stormy riffs, up-tempo drumming, and harsh vocals. Other songs like the shamanic “Dance With The Wolf” or the joyful but mysterious “Echo Of The Grassland” are quite laid back and completely acoustic, with throat singing passages. It’s when both styles are fused in equal parts, as in the epic “Brave” or in the enchanting album highlight “Chant Of The Cavalry” that the band is most fascinating.
My favorite song is probably the closing “Legend On Horseback”, which features some Chinese folk influences. The song starts like a traditional lullaby before it gets heavier. The dark riffs are overpowered by the longing folk sounds that create a truly epic atmosphere. The song sounds structured, but always comes around with a few new ideas. Modern sounds and riffs meet the ancient grace of Chinese and Mongolian influence in a perfectly balanced symbiosis.
The mixture of genres might sound a little bit unusual at first, but let me assure you that this combination will be growing on you each time you listen, though I admit that this record is lacking a true hit. Folk metal fans simply can’t avoid band, which is a welcome alternative to acts like Eluveitie, Ensiferum, and Equilibrium, and complements its Chinese colleagues Nine Treasures and The Samans quite well. I’m already quite sure that you will see this record on my list of the best albums of the young year of 2014.