The Hu – Rumble of Thunder (Album Review)

One of the most successful contemporary representatives of Folk Metal, The HU was formed in 2016, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Apart from using the basic weapons of Rock – electric guitar, bass, and drums –  the band’s members proudly showcase their culture by incorporating traditional instruments into their music.

Currently consisting of Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar (morin khuur [horsehead fiddle], throat singing), Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts (tumur hhuur [jaw harp], tsuur [end-blown flute], throat singing), Enksaikhan Batjargal (morin khuur, throat singing), and Temuulen Naranbaatar (tovshuur [two-/three-stringed lute)], backing vocals) plus a group of touring sessionists, The HU unleashed their debut full-length, The Gereg, in 2019 to critical acclaim; led by the single “Wolf Totem.”

Now, three years later, the Mongolian collective unleashes the much-awaited follow up. Coming out on September 2, 2022, via Better Noise Music, the new album, titled Rumble of Thunder, opens with the Power trip of the lead single, “This Is Mongol.” A strong start, next “YUT Hövende” is ominous, mountainous, and reverberating. Next “Triangle” is a sudden change of style and mood – melodic, catchy, upbeat, and lovely with its throat-singing and jaw-harp interlude. Very interesting, it could even pass as an Indie Rock track.

Another melodic, steppe-trotting, caravan-journey, sing-along song then comes next in the form of “Teach Me.” The ensuing “Upright Destined Mongol” then picks up a similar rhythm and cadence–like a hundred galloping horses. Thereafter, “Sell the World,” is a further trek to a drier and dusty disposition.

The Hu then launches into the ominous, slow but ascending buildup of the album’s lead single “Black Thunder.” This is then followed by the semi-acoustic, string-laden ballad “Mother Nature,” which stands out with its morin khuur–led interlude. The pace then speeds up a bit with the bouncy and cyclical “Bii Biyelgee”–a homage to Mongolian nomadic dance.

Two metallic rockers then follow afterwards–“Segee” and the dark and brute “Shihi Hutu.” Interestingly, the penultimate song, “Tatar Warrior,” may be regarded as the blackest track off Rumble Thunder–a blend of Thrash and Death Metal. In fact, it will fit onto a setlist that includes Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam,” Slayer’s “South of Heaven,” Faith No More’s “Falling to Pieces,” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears.” Finally, The HU ends Rumble of Thunder with the fist-pumping, headbanging, extended version of the stomping single “Black Thunder”–a proper closer.

Folk Metal is one of the most interesting sub-genres of Metal music. It showcases the possibilities of combining the brashness, heaviness, and technicality of Rock with the finesse and sophistication of cultural and traditional music. The HU (along with Skyclad, Cruachan, Black Kirin, Finntroll, and Korpiklaani) is a great gateway to this kind of music. Start with The HU’s new offering and then take off from there. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Rumble of Thunder 4 out of 5 stars.

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