Saturday, March 11, 2023

CD Odyssey Disc 1626: The Hu

The weekend has arrived and not a moment too soon. I will be enjoying some lovely activities this weekend including taking my cat to the vet and doing the laundry. I’ll also squeeze some fun in there, starting with the writing of this next review.

Disc 1626 is…Rumble of Thunder

Artist: The Hu

Year of Release: 2022

What’s up with the Cover?  Based on their previous album having a song called “Wolf Totem” I’m going to say this is a wolf. A seriously bad-ass wolf, that looks like he’s partially made of electricity. In short, a wolf you most assuredly do not want to fuck with.

How I Came To Know It: I loved the Hu’s 2019 album, “The Gereg” (reviewed back at Disc 1388). I hadn’t realized they’d put out a new one until I found this while thumbing through the “new arrivals” section of the metal records in my local shop. I bought it on spec and hoped for the best.

How It Stacks Up: That first album is very good, meaning that “Rumble of Thunder” can only manage to land in second place, but it is an honourable second place.

Rating: 4 stars

If there is a band with a better handle on how to turn the thrilling motion of a galloping horse into music than the Hu I can’t think of one. Iron Maiden comes close, but against the restless never-ending energy of an album like “Rumble of Thunder” even they fall behind the pace.

If you are new to the Hu, they are a Mongolian folk metal band, folk metal being the blend of traditional instruments, stories and musical concepts of a band’s homeland with pure unadulterated rock and roll. I’m a sucker for this stuff (other examples you’ll find in my collection include Tyr (Faroe Islands) and Wagakki Band (Japan)).

Driving to “Rumble of Thunder” was an exercise in restraint. This shit makes you want to open up the throttle. With all the lights and stoppages of urban driving I assuaged myself by switching to manual mode, just to experience the visceral quality of shifting gears.

Even without the ability to fully open up on the highway, you’ll find yourself fist pumping in perfect cadence with each song, as you imagine a millennia’s worth of ancestors chanting along with you through the ages. No I’m not Mongolian, but the Hu will invite you to visit the experience all the same. I did so with relish.

The invitation comes immediately, with the powerful and insistent rhythm of “This is Mongol”. This song is a great opener, filled with guitar riffs that pound incessantly on the front of the beat, a caged beast of rock and roll snarling in fury as it is caged by the bars and perfect pocket of inspired musicianship.

This being the Hu, they throw in some traditional throat singing as well, and as with their previous record, it is dark, mysterious and invigorating, all at once. “Triangle” is particularly great, as the band plays around the edges of an eighties pop beat, throws in some great rolling “R” sounds and that ever-present guitar riff. The Hu know how to employ a modern rock guitar like a dollop of horseradish, spicing up every bite with a nostril-flaring thrill.

I speak exactly zero Mongolian, but the liner notes helpfully provided English translation of the songs, which feature heavily in national pride and evocations of ancient myth and tradition. Lots of references to ancient deities, the glory of a ride under a blue sky and the art of kicking ass. It isn’t necessary to know what the songs are about to enjoy the music, but if you read the translation later the reaction is likely, “yeah, that’s what I figured that song was about.”

The last song on the record is also the heaviest. “Tatar Warrior” has the rhythmic Mongol beat, but I also heard some melodic black metal influences in there that had me thinking favourably of the Viking-inspired Amon Amarth. Listening to it I could feel a brotherhood of kick-ass warrior culture across continents.

“Rumble of Thunder” doesn’t have the artistic range of “The Gereg”, which also has the advantage of novelty, but it is a worthy successor to that record’s greatness, and has me excited and hopeful for Hu albums for years to follow.

Best tracks: This is Mongol, Triangle, Upright Destined Mongol, Bii Biyelgee, Tatar Warrior

1 comment:

Gord Webster said...

Excellent! I didn't know they had a new album out. We loved the first one.