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Mongol - The Return

The Return
by Chris Hawkins at 10 December 2018, 3:00 PM

Folk Metal is a scene that is truly hit or miss for me.  My mind instantly goes to the good, early BORKNAGAR, and flashes to the band, SKYCLAD.  2018, though, has seen some pretty powerful releases for the genre.  From the scaled-back acoustic Folk employed on the latest WINTERFYLLETH album, “The Hallowing of Heirdom” to the unique melding of Black Metal and Appalachian-flavored traditional music of PANOPTICON’s “The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness,” and the reflective Norse-influenced “Skuggorna Kallar” by SKOGEN, this year has included many new shades of the genre, adventurous, creative, and bold.  MONGOL, a six piece from Canada, have now released their third full-length, “The Return”.  Contained within are ten tracks that blend Melodeath sensibilities with an orchestrated Folk sound expanded by the use of keyboards, traditional instruments, and even accordion.

After an extended intro by way of “Prophecy of the Blind,” the title track storms in with a clear intent of smashing Folk and Metal together in an unadulterated love or hate fashion.  Unfortunately, it comes across weakly, though sincere, and frankly sounds like Riverdance-gone-Metal.  While I’m sure there is a solid market for this, I personally cannot get past the visions of dancers dressed as Bavarian bar maids performing high kicks.

The Metal factor is thankfully increased on the fourth track, “Takhil”.  The band blends some articulate tremolo picking with a heavy dose of keyboards echoing a sound not far off from late 1990s Symphonic Black Metal.  This vibe is continued on the fifth track, “Amongst the Dead”.  MONGOL summon classic OLD MAN’S CHILD and DIMMU BORGIR as they smash Extreme Metal elements with plenty of keyboards.  The folk element is clearly dialed back on these two tracks much to their benefit.  A comparison to the first CHILDREN OF BODOM record would not be far off.

Seventh track, “Dschinghis Khan,” besides having an impossible-to-pronounce name, is the focal point of the band’s folk element.  The end result is a tribute to the Mongol warrior covered in Velveeta.  The “oohs” and “aahs” come across as corny, and while I’m sure there are plenty who will roast me for that, it is just too much.  Too much.

The world already has one FINNTROLL and that band has had a great deal of success carving out their unique residence in the scene.  Perhaps this album would have garnered a better review were one to cover it that is more predisposed to the brand.  The high points of the album where the band proves their finely-tuned talent and penchant for crafting some serious Metal riffs makes me yearn for more of just that.  It is when the banjo, flute, and over-the-top orchestration takes control and the Metal band is more or less the accompaniment that they veer into taboo territory, effectively creating ballads of traditional Folk music with Metal as a side note.  The band’s audience will be able to wade through my criticism and those looking for a more elaborated vision of Metal can heed my warning.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Memorability: 4
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

1. Prophecy of the Blind
2. The Return
3. Sacrificial Rites
4. Takhil
5. Amongst the Dead
6. To the Wind
7. Dschinghis Khan
8. The Mountain Weeps
9. River Child
10. Warband

Zev- Guitars, Banjo, Mandolin, Clean Vocals
Tev Tegri – Lead Vocals
Sche-khe – Accordion, Keyboard, Orchestration
Bourchi – Drums
Zelme – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Sorkon Sharr – Bass

Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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