Nine Treasures

Awakening From Dukkha

A greatest hits of sorts for Mongolian folk metallers Nine Treasures opens up new worlds for Tom Coles

Folk metal has a long and proud history, having developed from the weird Britain aesthetic of Skyclad to the boisterous Finnish act Korpiklanni and Israel’s multifaceted Orphaned Land, reaching across the globe to allow bands to explore place in a distinct metal context. On Nine Treasures’ new greatest hits compilation they showcase this attitude, celebrating the salient points of their career and delivering solid bangers – plus, opening listeners to a new world of timbres and instruments from their native Mongolia.


Awakening From Dukkha showcases the sprightly, playful style they’ve developed throughout their three records. Bursts of folk instrumentation such as the balalaika add texture and melody and traditional throat singing meshes well with heavy metal’s fascination with the lower registers. The metal elements are chuggy and aggressive affairs, with thunderous percussion and satisfying, crunchy guitars.


Thankfully, there are no compromises on sonic assault for the benefit of the traditionally acoustic instruments. Awakening From Dukkha is, by any metric, a heavy record, and it maintains its momentum throughout, even when it relinquishes space to the folkier elements, as evident on the punkier ‘Black Heart.’ The tracks borrow gleefully from a range of metal techniques, taking the tuneful riffs of melodic metal, the momentum of hardcore and the knack for complexity from progressive styles, using these in tangent with throat singing techniques to hammer home the vocal hooks, which are sprinkled liberally.

These vocal elements are among the most successful, being tonally similar to the guttural death growl. It is used here to great effect, adding grit and darkness to tracks which are otherwise tuneful and upbeat; often it works better than harsher styles, allowing them to stay tuneful, elevating their hooks and choruses. Elsewhere, tracks are concise and focussed; Nine Treasures are consistently tight and disciplined when they could so easily be overstuffed.


Heavy metal is, at its best, wildly multicultural and has long been open to new and exciting sounds from across the world. Having an approachable starting point pragmatically opens up listeners to fellow bands such as The Hu and Tengger Cavalry, and whilst greatest hits releases often function as a stopgap – or are even superseded by Spotify playlists – it warms the heart to think of newcomers falling into a very satisfying wormhole of Mongolian folk metal.

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