Folk metal is a tough act to pull off. Finding common sonic ground between the ferocity of metal and the quieter traditionalism of folk music is hard enough, but delivering the resulting product with sincerity takes the difficulty up to Normandy beach landings levels. One of the overriding problems is the clash in the two vocal styles, which can easily lead to the vocalist’s performance favoring one half of the music, leaving the remainder feeling tacked on and gimmicky. Tengger Cavalry manage to avoid this pitfall by doing away with the lead vocalist slot, focusing instead on intricate instrumental arrangements and creating an almost orchestral feel. And in their hands, the tools of Mongolian folk music: fiddles, tribal drums and throat singing, feel like a natural complement to the muscular riffs and kick drums of modern metal. Each element is given its moment in the sun with quiet folksy passages and ripping metal trading off the limelight throughout songs, but it’s the moments where they intertwine and play together that are really special, layers of instruments creating a rich dense sound that transcends what either genre is capable of alone. The metal borrows a sense of timelessness and awe, while the folk music gains access to urgency and immediacy. Combined, they bring history to life about as well as music ever can, in a way that feels respectful, loving and honestly, metal as fuck. The tribal elements might throw some metallers off and I can’t see traditionalists being happy with the savage hard rock employed, but for me, and hopefully for some of you, nothing has put a bigger smile on my face than Mongolian folk metal this week. You can check out the band’s self-titled track from their newly reissued album, Blood Sacrifice Shaman, below and listen to the rest of the album on bandcamp.