ALBUM REVIEW : NINE TREASURES — Wisdom Eyes
As a huge folk metal head, I’m always on the lookout for a fresh folk sound – that is usually found in the form of some unknown band coming out from an unsuspecting area and exposing us to some truly awesome traditional music from their home country. There is one band out there that does something that few have managed to bring to the masses; traditional Mongolian music + metal. That band is called Nine Treasures, and has just released its 3rd full-length album, Wisdom Eyes, on January 10.
They had released an EP in 2015, but their last full-length came in 2013. After a European tour in the summer of 2016, where many people were exposed to their style for the first time, I believe they saw fitting to create a new record for their growing hordes of fans. So Nine Treasures delivered Wisdom Eyes very early in the year, setting the bar above average for any upcoming folk albums in 2017.
Nine Treasures have really outdone themselves as far as melodies go and have refined their sound a bit with Wisdom Eyes, on which most songs are more comparable to their “Fable of Mangas” as opposed to songs like “Yoohor” or “Black Heart”. This album flows extremely well as a single listen - being a relatively short 39 minutes in total - so it’s the kind of record you might find yourself listening to a few times in a row without it feeling redundant. It also seems a bit less disjointed than their previous releases, and everything is set at a slower pace; but don’t get me wrong, it is every bit as much fun. The song “Don’t Want To Dance” might actually make you want to dance, while “Hushuu Child” or “The Stubborn” might make you bang your head until you get a nosebleed. The album’s slowest track, “Us,” also caught my attention. It’s a beautifully-crafted song with a focus on the traditional instruments and clean vocals, with added tinges of metal. The result is an emotional song not unlike those Metallica classics we all know too well, with some Mongolian flair.
Nine Treasures - Wisdom Eyes
Don’t let the English titles fool you – Nine Treasures hails from the Inner Mongolia region of China, with all their lyrics in a language to match. Armed with the traditional morin khuur and balalaika, their music is punctuated with great folk instruments solos and vocal harmonies. The band has been called “Chinese Korpiklaani” on numerous occasions – probably for their ability to mix traditional music with upbeat, melodic metal, as well as the raspy and yet melodic voice of their singer, known as Askhan. While that may be so, Nine Treasures have made a sound all of their own, distinguishing themselves from even other Mongolian folk metal bands, such as Tengger Cavalry (who use a lot of death and black metal elements in their work in comparison), and with this album they are moving further away from this title. For fans of metal humppa and those who are not, Nine Treasures are definitely worth checking out - although if you are part of the latter group, I believe this album may please you more than previous ones.
The band has announced they will be going back to Europe in 2017, so if you didn’t catch them before, you might want to mark your calendars when they announce dates. In the meantime, get your hands on Wisdom Eyes via their bandcamp page (and pick up their previous albums while you’re at it!) and enjoy this seldom-heard genre in all its glory.
Release date: January 10, 2017
▶ Listen to Nine Treasures on Spotify