There’s no doubt that if you were to compile a list of the most unique musical acts of the decade within the walls of the metal world, then Tengger Cavalry would sit toward the upper echelons. The brainchild of Beijing native, New York-based Nature Ganganbaigal, the band have developed over their last six full-length albums from a one-man curio into a fully operational musical unit that is quite unlike anything a casual metal fan could possibly encounter. And while there is definitely no denying that some fans may have initially been tempted in at the idea of contemporary metal crossing swords with the rhythms and flavours of traditional Mongolian folk music, there is plenty of evidence here on Cian Bi that this could be the album to help Tengger Cavalry cross over to a far wider audience, and on the strength of their songs alone.
The Old War features Nature’s deep, rich throat singing trading off against some soaring Eastern woodwind to a glorious conclusion, Redefine’s guitars stomp and weave like classic System Of A Down and the tribal drum patterns, accentuated by some thick textured riffing, that pop all over One Tribe Beyond Any Nation recall the debut Slipknot album if it had been conceived through Zen-like calmness as opposed to raw hatred.
If there are criticisms, then it could be argued that those unfamiliar with the less Westernised part of the band’s music may struggle to pick out enough diversity within it, and, at a patience-testing 15 tracks, Tengger Cavalry really could have done with shaving off some of the chaff to make an album that really refuses to let the listener’s mind wander. But, that being said, this is still a fascinating piece of work from a band who still continue to offer something genuinely surprising in our scene.