TENGGER CAVALRY - "Mongolian Folk Metal"
June 26, 2017, a year ago
Let’s give the chaps in Tengger Cavalry (which means “the army of sky god”) some credit, shall we? At a time in metal where artists attempting to be unique and/or original may be at an all-time low (OK, OK, maybe not as dreadful as the fourth or fifth wave of hair metallists circa early-mid 1991…but still close), it’s comforting to see bands putting their own spin on the metal genre.
And this is on display throughout Tengger Cavalry’s sixth studio effort overall, Die On My Ride, as New York City-based group continues to mix metal with exotic sounds straight out of Mongolian and Central Asian culture. Tengger Cavalry’s singer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist, Nature G, spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about the new disc, playing Carnegie Hall, and the state of metal.
BraveWords: Let’s discuss the new album, Die On My Ride.
Nature G: “Die On My Ride is one of the most different albums that we’ve produced so far - compared to all the others. Musically, it’s less restrictions, because in the past, we really tried to create this Mongolian folk metal genre. With this one, I guess we were more into alternative metal - more combinations and musical texture. More of a hybrid of influences. I guess that is the biggest difference in terms of the music texture - for us.”
BraveWords: Favorite tracks?
Nature G: “I would say ‘Die On My Ride’ and ‘Me Against Me.’ ‘Me Against Me’ is very gloomy, and industrial. I like the weird feel of it.”
BraveWords: What is the meaning behind the album title?
Nature G: “I think Die On My Ride means it’s more about an individual trying to achieve our own dreams, and there are a lot of obstacles - society, family, our own weakness. So I guess Die on My Ride means we have to push through all these obstacles, and be willing to sacrifice to get to where we want to get.”
BraveWords: It seems like nowadays, by and large heavy metal sounds quite similar. But I give Tengger Cavalry credit for trying to do something a bit different.
Nature G: “We do use a lot of unusual folk instruments from Central Asia and Mongolia. So that definitely adds a different sound to what we play. For the melody part, the Mongolian horse-head fiddle is the most important fiddle. I learned to play this fiddle for almost eight years. I was professionally trained with my teachers. That’s one of my main melodic expressions, is through this fiddle. So that takes up a lot of parts of our songs. Also, we use a dombra from Central Asia - it’s like a dulcimer or a banjo. That also we use for a lot of rhythm parts. All these different instruments take up different parts and they all form together new textures.”
BraveWords: Are there are any other bands today that sound similar to Tengger Cavalry?
Nature G: “There is a band called Nine Treasures from Beijing - they also play Mongolian folk rock. I think they’re pretty cool.”
BraveWords: What are some memories of playing at Carnegie Hall two years ago?
Nature G: “That was pretty fun, because the first part of the show we played a folk set, and then the second part of the show, we were playing metal. It was a fun experience to be in a concert hall and you sit down and perform - it’s very different from the rock venue experience.”
BraveWords: As far as reproducing the songs on stage, are there songs that are difficult to perform live?
Nature G: “Yeah. The song ‘Me Against Me’ is one of those, because when you hear the recording, it relies a lot on electronic drums. So when you try to replicate that in the live show, it’s kind of hard, because you’ve only got guitar and bass and these live instruments - with the back track. So you’ve got to balance a little bit, to have the live sound have some different feeling than the recording.”
BraveWords: What can fans expect from seeing Tengger Cavalry live?
Nature G: “We have an interesting stage presence, with all this folk nomadic dress, and also, the live performance is full-on throat singing and nomadic music tradition. And we’re a heavy metal hybrid. So I think it’s a fun, cultural, heavy metal experience.”
BraveWords: What are the band’s future plans?
Nature G: “We’re playing the Wacken Festival this August, so I guess from there, we want to expand a little more to the European market, while we’re still going to keep touring in America - maybe twice a year.”
BraveWords: What do you think of the current state of metal in America?
Nature G: “I think it’s pretty good. People are very passionate about what they like. The people that come to our shows are very dedicated and they really enjoy the music - I really respect that.”