Nine Treasures – Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor
Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Nine Treasures is one of many recent Chinese folk metal bands that are influenced by Mongolian culture, history, and language. The band is clearly heavier than Hanggan, a little bit more accessible and joyful than Tengger Cavalry, and more traditional than The Samans – to compare them with similar bands of that new vogue. In fact, the six musicians from Beijing sound a little bit like a Chinese or Mongolian version of Alestorm or Korpiklaani. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as all the involved musicians originally come from Inner Mongolia and even sing in Mongolian. Apart from the obvious folk influences, the band has a slight thrash metal or punk-influenced touch that, in my opinion, suits them very well.
The band’s first release, Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor, is quite short, and has a rather lousy running time of only thirty-one minutes. If you take off the well-done acoustic version of “Nuutshai Chadal” and the quite intriguing and unique Metallica cover of “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, which is clearly one of the most original cover songs I have ever heard, we get a little less than twenty-three minutes of original material.
But be assured that the few songs on here really deliver an energizing and joyful party spirit. The vocals aren’t a far call from traditional Mongolian throat singing, and are quite unique as well as technically skilled. They find the right balance between authenticity and accessibility. Instrumentally, the band simply rocks, and includes a few very solid riffs on the record. The rhythm section with bass and drums is also a true powerhouse. The folk instrumentation is,of course, outstanding here. Among many intriguing instruments and the use of several samples, the play of the balalaika is really the cherry on the cake for me on this record. The tracks are all rather enthusiastic, fast, and joyful. They may sound a little bit too similar at first, but you really get thirty minutes of unchained music that invites you to raise your fist up in the air, bang your head, and dance around like a fool to exotic and warm-hearted melodies. The spirit makes these tracks unique, but transmits at the same time truly international feelings that are incarnated by an unbowed lust for life.
In the end, the mix of traditions and modernity has rarely worked as well as on this release from an instrumental and lyrical point of view. That’s why this debut record is worth your time and attention despite its short length. This band will soon play several important metal festivals in the world, and could easily become the next big thing. If you want to be one of those who discovered them first, just stroll around in the internet and do yourself a favor by listening to this highly entertaining and energizing record.
3.75 // 5