Splice Magazine

Licensed Publication of Splice Media Group

The Hu Brings Mongolian Folk Metal to The Crofoot in Pontiac,Michigan

The Hu©John Swider

Music is a universal bridge, in many ways, between countries and cultures. To the members of The HU, the designers and builders of one such musical bridge, it is an avenue to explore what it means to feel, be and create a interlocking sound that brings people of different ethnicities together.The band plays what they call Hunnu music, which is a tribute to the ancient Hunnu culture in Mongolia and the songs they create form the monolith of a rich tapestry of dark, heavy music that that toes the line between hard rock and metal.

To the casual listener at first take the Hu are just like any other metal band, with rolls of thunderous drums and gritty whines of electric guitars … except for a few things.  HU blends traditional elements of Mongolian music like throat singing, the morin khuur (an instrument resembling a two-stringed cello), the tumur khuur (jaw harp) and the tsuur (a flute-like instrument) with a classic heavy metal sound. They offer a refreshing take on a genre that can sometimes searches for innovation. If you’re curious what the vibe of such an eclectic, genre-bending group is, look no further than the Youtube music video for their most popular song, “Wolf Totem,” which swaps horses and traditional Mongolian outfits for motorcycles and black leather jackets.

The HU has been taking the global metal scene by storm long before the release of their critically acclaimed debut album The Gereg, earning praise from a plethora of music giants and even getting the honor of producing a song for the video game Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. The group adds to the building momentum of international metal bands breaking through in the American scene, following in the steps of predecessors like the German band Rammstein and Sabaton from Sweden. In their homeland the band is highly esteemed and awarded by the government, being honored with the Khangarid, the highest award given to people from the city of Ulaanbaatar.

Readying their next chapter as a worldwide force, The HU are putting the wraps on their highly anticipated sophomore album, which was recorded in their homeland during quarantine. The project is expected to be released in late summer 2022 much to the delight of their global fanbase. But first, the band has scheduled a slate full of dates on their North America Black Thunder Tour where they’ll be offering fans a “first listen” to songs from the forthcoming album.

Friday night the fine folks of Pontiac, Michigan got to witness making a return to the stage where their connection with live audiences will once again prove that the power of music transcends language and cultural barriers. The show, originally scheduled at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit was moved to the much smaller Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan due to some building issues back in the Motorcity. Packing the eight-piece band onto a stage with an area considerably less than accustomed may not have been easy, but the Hu still managed to deliver a spectacle. Hello Pontiac!”, screamed Nyamjantsan “Jaya” Galsanjamts, welcoming the crowd, as the band was firing into “Shihi Hutu,” followed by the title track off their debut LP “Shoog Shoog,” that had the venue head bobbing and thrusting their firsts in the air in unison with the band. The sudden burst of energy from the stage had fans in a euphoric state and having a great time from the opening hit.

The Hu©John Swider

What most fans seem to misunderstand is The HU is so much more than a group of musicians performing on a stage. It is a cultural experience for the masses. Sure, there were the obligatory cuts in tonights set that everyone knew, “Yuve Yuve Yu” and the vibrant “Wolf Totem,” plus the recently released “This Is Mongol” from the new LP, but the band is so much more than most ardent fans realize. The Hu, by all accounts, is a Mongolian folk/metal band and it’s very important that you include the word Mongolian for the purposes of genre clarification so that no one thinks the guys are just a bunch Scandinavian dreamers who couldn’t cut it in the world of metal. Their draw for most music fans is that The Hu create songs that soar in the way most rock bands can only dream. If you covered your ears they may vaguely look like most metal bands you’ve seen live, the black clothes, the pumping fists, the signature instruments — but there’s so much more going on that most pundants care to admit.

Delivering more explosive tracks in “Uchirtai gurav,” ‘Shireg Shireg’ and ‘Bii Biyleymantras, were each breathtaking in their own right while lyrically expounding on the bands signature sound with the aforementioned lyrics about heritage, warriors and women. These particular cuts showcased another side to the band, with traditional elements of Mongolian music enhanced with slower paced riffs intertwined with a universal hard rock foundation.

The Hu©John Swider

As with most rock outfits, The Hu tore through the ending run with a potpourri of potent cuts that featured the reverent “Yuve Yuve Yu,” “Wolf Totem,” and “This Is Mongol,” the latest cut off of the bands upcoming album. But the last song of the night, a thundering cover of the mighty Metallica anthem “Sad But True,” left a profound impact on every metalhead in the building. Sure it was the same song heard over and over on every radio, but the changes to the arrangement are a precise example of the power and versatility of The Hu that hopefully will be expounded on future releases. Fronted by a trembling, tenuously sharp screech of the three-stringed fiddle in the arrangement, the intro is drawn out as the band chanted over the introductory riffs with a simple, multi-voiced repetition: “Hu Hu-hu.” That simple change added additional layers to the rhythm and allowed The Hu’s arrangement to sound sharper and resonant, as it has been shifted to allow the inclusion of the delicate treble of the Mongolian strings. To say these Mongolian metal monsters did the classic song justice would be a decisive disservice to the band, it was absolutely incredible.

It would be easy to write off The HU as a meme or a fad band, but that would be conceptually and discriminately wrong in every sense of the imagination. This isn’t a band of guys in black costumes writing parodies of popular metal songs about sexual encounters or the typical drugs and rock and roll. The Hu is a making unique music for the world by connecting the modern world to their cultural past. If they have to turn the dials up to get people to listen, then they might as well turn them up to 11 so the world can hear. The Hu is THAT good.

 

« of 35 »

The Hu:
 

Crofoot:
 

  

SETLIST:

  1. Shihi Hutu
  2. Shoog shoog
  3. The Gereg
  4. The Great Chinggis Khaan
  5. Shireg Shireg
  6. Uchirtai Gurav
  7. Bii Biyley
  8. Huhchu Zairan
  9. Tatar Warrior
  10. Black Thunder
  11. Yuve Yuve Yu
  12. Wolf Totem
  13. This is Mongol
  14. Sad but True
  15. (Metallica cover)
%d bloggers like this: