Indigenous Week Day 4: Nine Treasures – Awakening from Dukkha

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Artist: Nine Treasures

Release Title: Awakening from Dukkha

Release Date: 19 March 2021

Location: China

Digital Price: 8 USD

Length: 49min 31s

Coming from China, Nine Treasures is a folk metal band whose members are all originally from Inner Mongolia, a region whose indigenous Mongolian people are now a minority. Formed in 2010, they have released four studio albums since their formation and have become known for their blend of traditional Mongolian music with heavy guitar riffs and drums. Today I present to you their most recent album, 2021’s Awakening from Dukkha, the kind of refined folk metal with cultural influences that we don’t often hear in the metal world.

The beauty of this style of music as a metal fan is that some of the subtler and lighter elements of the instrumentation are able to shine more than they would if this were a typical black or death metal release. Some of those traditional strings stand out more than they otherwise could if mixed into a wall of aggression or despair. That sense of serenity stands alongside the occasional chugging guitars, stomping rhythm sections, and energy on songs like Arvan Ald Guulin Honshoor, where the whole band shines through. This album has the feel of something sacred and ceremonial; it is a celebration of music, history, culture, and nature. It feels incredibly heartwarming when we can see such passion put behind it.

The opening track “Black Heart” is what kicks off the album and serves as a fitting introduction to the uniqueness of Nine Treasures musically. But then there are tracks like The End of the World which have an oldschool sort of sound to them, especially with the guitars reminding me of the way some of those early metal tracks were structured. We also have those beautiful strings mixed in, which help make these tunes so unique. They show that traditional instrumentation and composition can offer just as much to the modern world as any tradition, old or new, and that one can share with the other freely to great results.

There are so many great tracks here. Wisdom Eyes for instance opens with this fantastic chugging metal guitar, before developing out into sing-songy bar melodies. We also get some wonderful instrumentation that we rarely hear in metal, thanks to those bouncy vibrations and clicks from the jaw harp. Then there’s Ten Years, which has almost a slower, matured thrash vibe to it in parts, but has a few sections that stand out to me as fun to listen along to. Overall, Awakening from Dukkha is a fantastic introduction to Nine Treasures, and if you’ve never heard them before, you’re sure to find something you like here.

I hope you enjoy Awakening from Dukkha.

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