I've never been a huge fan of folk/pagan metal bands because most of them are too over the top and bombastic for my tastes. The fact that many folk metal bands tend to deal exclusively with Norse or Slavic mythology is also offputting, as well as the constant use of weird folk instruments that nobody ever heard of - COBZA = METAL. There's also the small problem that there are two main types of folk metal bands:
- ultra srs bands that are really in tune with their ancestors and only sing about Viking longboats, wolves, Norse legends and brave warriors - zzzzzz who cares? Typical examples include Arkona, Bucovina, Falkenbach and the gross bearded kings of Norse dorkery, Amon Amarth, who are pretty much releasing the same album for the past 20 years yet nobody seems to care.
- bands who take it all as a joke, which would be slightly better except most of them play annoying folk metal songs about beer, goblins and beer drinking goblins and I just can't deal with that stuff. I think Trollfest are one of these bands? Whatever.
Despite the tragic state of this Odin forsaken metal genre, interesting folk metal bands do manage to trickle down here and there. Like this totally awesome North Asian nomadic metal outfit called Tennger Cavalry, hailing from the steppes of China. Their latest album, Ancient Call, infuses metal with Mongolian folk music played on traditional Asian instruments and Tibetan throat singing. The metal part in itself is nothing special - just some fast, galloping, distorted thrashy riffs, fast drumming and decent, but generic harsh vocals. But the exotic instruments in the mix are an absolute delight and turn what could have been a painfully boring album into the soundtrack to Genghis Khan's marauding hordes invading Europe and ruining everybody's lives. Did you know that the Mongolians ruled, at one point, over the entire Asian continent and were well into their way across the rest of Eurasia, causing the entire Western Europe to collectively shit their pants because the Golden Hordes were infamous for burning settlements to the ground and constructing giant pyramids out of the severed heads of men, women and children? It was just a rulership technicality that drove the Mongolians back to their homeland, or else Europe would have been a very different place right now and we probably would have run a blog about horseback archery.
Some of the songs on Ancient Call are a bit long and tend to get boring after a while, but there's no denying that Tennger Cavalry have managed to stand out from the dull folk metal crowd and carve a unique sound that's both heavy and exotic. So what are you waiting for? Get your shamisen on!