You’ve Got To Get An Album Out, You Owe It To The People…

The Hu are going to drop their first album in a couple of months; this is good news to anyone who likes epic metal.

An internet sensation, The Hu’s first two tracks (below) racked up millions of views very quickly, as youtube’s related item algorithm began popping the videos onto people’s watch-lists. That’s how I discovered them, and I’m happy about it.

After a few million hits on your demo tracks, it’s time to run to the studio and get an album out. NPR reports [npr]

It is something they continue to do today, says Stokes, who spoke via Skype from Inner Mongolia where she is studying Mongolian hip-hop. That hip-hop scene has a similar background. Although hip-hop is a relatively new import, Mongolians have rapidly adapted it, mixing “fierce ethnic pride and adventurous dancing” with social and political critique, according to Stokes’ research.

“Mongolians are not just taking elements from Western music and just copying and pasting,” says Stokes. Instead, they’re using some of these elements and making their own authentic music.

“So it’s not rock music performed by Mongolians. It’s Mongolian rock music,” she says.

This is a “Morin Khuur” – Mongolian 3-string cello, called a “horse-head” for some reason. One of the other things that immediately grabbed me about The Hu is their fusion of modern iconography with Mongol iconography – harleys and bikers and horses in the high mountains.

I think that they were pulling the NPR reporter’s leg when they gave them this idea:

Mongolian musical culture is tied up with their pastoral way of life.

The horse was and is an essential part of what made the Mongols who they are – it’s food, warmth, transportation, and it’s a weapon. Genghis Khan’s armies were possibly the greatest and most deadly, pound for pound, in history (including the US military) – certainly the most effective. They flattened empires and wiped out cities with legendary ferocity, against massive odds. The “Mongolian badass” look is not rooted in their pastoral way of life any more than the Hell’s Angels denim and motorcycle look is rooted in their fondness for open air music events.

It is not just their instruments that incorporate traditional elements. In the band’s first song, “Yuve Yuve Yu” (What’s going on?), they mention Genghis Khan and how he was fated to bring nations together.

That is one heck of a delicate way of putting it. Unquestionably, Genghis Khan was a great man and, by the time his DNA has finished seeding itself through the population, more humans will have descended from him than anyone else – but his way of unifying nations was to utterly crush and subjugate them. And his method of being a genetic supernova was definitely non-consensual.

Definitely one of my favorite parts of The Hu’s tracks is the way they use throat-singing in their vocal array, and they combine it with heavy metal-style head banging.

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Now I’ve got to find that Mongolian hip-hop they were talking about in the NPR brief.

As a life-long wargamer, I have to say one of the fantasy scenarios is Genghis Khan VS Julius Caesar. I think the imperial Romans were amazing soldiers but the Mongols would have stomped Caesar’s legions into the ground like a thumb-tack getting hit by a hammer. It’s weird to find oneself thinking “They’d out-maneuver Caesar” because that’s like imagining gravity reversing itself, but, no doubt it would have been a hell of a fight. [Note: on a battlefield it would have been more like Jebe Noyon or Subetai versus Caesar; the Khan didn’t take to the field very often and his subordinates were dynamite]

The Hu’s tracks are great music to hammer red-hot steel to.

Dan Carlin’s Wrath of the Khans series on Hardcore History is pretty good. [dc] I particularly like his explanation of how Subetai was sent on a reconnaissance mission with a very light force and came back years later having collapsed several empires and added a huge chunk of the known world to the empire.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    I watched the first video. I have no objections to the music, it’s got a nice beat. The “throat-singing” sounds suspiciously like “5-pack-a-day bronchitis.” My biggest objection was the camera work. They should find a filmographer who can sit still for more than 1/2 second at a time.

  2. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#1:
    The “throat-singing” sounds suspiciously like “5-pack-a-day bronchitis.”

    It’s pretty interesting stuff and The Hu don’t get very extreme with it. Chirgilchin is more classical throat-singing sound:

  3. says

    Just a heads-up, you have a couple of “[yt]’s” in the 2nd paragraph that I assume are meant to be links to YouTube but aren’t active

  4. rq says

    I caught a couple of their songs a couple of months ago (as recommendations from this track) and have been saving them for posting, because they’ve got this excellent energy. I could comment on that whole “reviving traditional patriotic values” thing they’ve got going on (along with pretty much every modern folk group I know), but I think I’d rather just enjoy the music right now. Nice to hear they have an album coming out!

  5. bmiller says

    Their singles are actually on iTunes. :)

    Have you ever heard HEILUNG? Not as “authentic”…a bunch of Germans taking tribal music themes and memes, but it is very…interesting. :) In Majian also uses throat singing.

  6. Joshua Hauck says

    I like the sound, but the content bothers me. Maybe it’s just the age we live in, but I find some of “Yuve Yuve Yu” unsettling. Lines like, “Hey you traitor! Kneel down! Hey, Prophecies be declared!” strike me as vaguely fascist. The basic idea of “hey, our ethnic group is awesome, we all need to unite and fall in line” would be recognized as problematic real quick from a European artist.

    And how much do we really want to idolize Genghis Kahn? He and his children and grandchildren were some of the most brutal conquerors in history. Their destruction of Bagdad alone was an incredible loss to history and culture.

  7. voyager says

    I don’t have any red-hot steel to hammer, but I could totally clean the house with it. The throat singing is interesting. It’s really vibrational and I could almost feel the rhythm in waves, especially in the second song. It also has a curious echo.
    I don’t usually like metal, but this is good. Maybe because it’s mostly bass with no high-pitched screaming guitar.

  8. says

    The music sounds beautiful. I definitely like it. However the lyrics do seem somewhat disturbing for me. Pause the “Yuve Yuve Yu” video at exactly 2:20, and there will be a close-up with the guy’s hand on his cool-looking musical instrument. The ornaments on this musical instrument look like swastikas. Combine the disturbing lyrics with what looks like a swastika, and I’m getting the wrong impression. I hope that what I got was the wrong impression, because if I got the right impression, then well, ouch. I had never before heard of these musicians, so I can only judge what I’m seeing in the video, and from it I’m getting the wrong impression.

    By the way, I know that swastika is a millennia old symbol that has been used in countless cultures all over the world (and this includes also Latvian pagan symbols). Yet, because of certain 20th century events, I think it’s better for people not to use this symbol when there’s a risk that somebody unfamiliar with the context might misinterpret what they are seeing. For example, there’s “Skyforger,” a Latvian Folk/Pagan Metal Band. This is the cover of one of their albums. Notice the swastika. Because of this image, their band got associated with neonazis, something they clearly didn’t want to happen. A few years ago when I looked up their English language Wikipedia article, this controversy was pretty much the only thing there was. By now their Wikipedia article has been expanded to include also other information about their band, but the neonazi controversy is still prominently featured there. This is an example for why it’s safer to just not use this symbol at all, unless you want the wrong kind of publicity attached to yourself. This is one of my favorite songs from this band. The lyrics are from an old Latvian folksong — a guy loses his horse and goes to look for it; he finds his horse next to where pagan gods live, and therefore he gets to witness a wedding between two pagan gods.

    Joshua Hauck @#8

    And how much do we really want to idolize Genghis Kahn? He and his children and grandchildren were some of the most brutal conquerors in history.

    Yeah, no kidding. I have heard about people proudly claiming that they are descendants of this guy. If that was true, it would only mean that their great great great etc. grandmother was unlucky to become pregnant after getting raped by Genghis Khan. Is that really a good thing to be happy about? Same goes also for all the admiration Alexander the Great, Cesar, Napoleon, etc. get. They were just mass murderers, nothing else. If you murder a single person, you get punished. If you cause the death of thousands, then you are a hero who gets admired for millennia.

  9. avalus says

    Wow, youtube algorithms forgot me apparently. Thank you Marcus, this is is amazing music!

    But I am with Joshua and Ieva on idolizing.

  10. says

    I’m also concerned/unhappy about any ultra-nationalism (which, in my terms, is “any nationalism at all”) though I find myself more willing to accept it if I don’t understand it.

    Back when their first album came out, I discovered Laibach, and have listened to it on and off ever since. Probably my favorite album of theirs remains Opus Dei although Sympathy For The Devil is also good stuff. Back around 1987, or so, one of my co-workers complained that I was listening to “fascist music” and I had to confront the fact that I had no idea what they were saying – though the sound certainly had that militaristic/fascist head-banging kind of tone to it. I satisfied myself at the time that they were being ironic. They are a parody, right? Please?

    In ’98 or so I discovered Rammstein, which I believe is also not really ultra-nationalist as much as it’s just goofy shock and awe metal. It’s good stuff to grind steel to, I will say. “Metal to grind metal to.”

    And, on that note, I give you:

  11. says

    Back around 1987, or so, one of my co-workers complained that I was listening to “fascist music” and I had to confront the fact that I had no idea what they were saying

    I so get this one. I hardly ever look up biographies of artists/musicians/writers whose work I like. I’m just not interested, because most people’s biographies are plain boring and repetitive—everybody is born somewhere, have a family, they get education in some sort of school, then they work, have careers, families, and ultimately everybody just gets sick and dies. I really just don’t care to look up my favourite artists’ biographies. This results in me having no clue who they are or what political opinions they have.

    I mostly listen to music in languages that I speak, therefore I can understand the lyrics (one of the perks of being a polyglot). Yet this doesn’t protect me from liking music of musicians who support some rather disturbing ideologies. No nationalistic band will make every single one of their songs with nasty lyrics. This is why it’s perfectly possible for me to hear the nice songs and entirely miss the nasty ones. And then there’s one more problem—even when I hear a song with nasty lyrics, I can fail to correctly interpret them. Lyrics can sound abstract enough that I just don’t get what they really are about. Like I said, I totally get how you could have no clue that you were listening to “fascist music.” On more than one occasion I have been surprised to find out that some musician I liked supported some ideologies I didn’t like at all.

    I mostly listen metal and rock music. And I really like folk/pagan/medieval metal. I like how it sounds. I like the sounds you can get by combining metal with various traditional musical instruments. And folk metal seems to be a minefield for nationalistic crap. And then there were also those occasions when I discovered that some band I liked was a Christian rock or metal band. Ouch.

    In ’98 or so I discovered Rammstein, which I believe is also not really ultra-nationalist as much as it’s just goofy shock and awe metal.

    Here’s your answer:
    And, no, Rammstein isn’t nationalistic. Notice that a large chunk of controversies about them are caused by the unfortunate fact that other people are offended by songs that have lyrics dealing with sex (including BDSM) or violence.
    I haven’t listened to all their songs (there are a lot), but personally I had no objections to lyrics of any of their songs that I have heard. By the way, I also like Rammstein.