Review Summary: An unfortunately top-heavy effort which, despite undoubtedly being as good an introduction of the band's unique sounds as any other album, proves to be quite an average result.
It seems that New York's Tengger Cavalry are so "hidden" in the metal world that only the band's cult following knew about latest album Die On My ride
this year. Despite this, you only have to look at the reasons why they stand out from the crowd. Tengger Cavalry are the only known group (by this reviewer anyway) that have claimed from day one to be focused on playing "Mongolian folk metal", and despite how ridiculous that term sounds, it's actually fully supported. Since the band's inception, there has been a consistent display of musical homages to this earthy, robust and traditional sound which, unfortunately being monotone at times, is still somewhat unique. That said, nobody could accuse Tengger Cavalry of producing tried-and-tested formulas in the world of folk metal.
Without sounding derogatory, the title of this latest album sounds more like a half-baked attempt at aping Manowar, obvious cultural differences aside. Thankfully then, the music on Die On My Ride
proves this isn't the case. From the get-go of opener "Snow"'s weird, almost Pagan-sounding instrumentation to the closing, narrative lull of "Prayer", this album is just as good as the previous Tengger Cavalry albums in introducing you to just what the band have stuck to since forming. Indeed, the obscure narrative work in most of the songs here is a strong aspect of the album's overall sound, despite it proving very tiresome towards the end. In addition to this, numerous songs utilize the same galloping, mid-paced rhythm which Tengger Cavalry have always seen fit to abide by when writing new material. The title track, "Independence Day" and "Strike" among others are thus driven with an apparent menace until the bitter end, and despite the same musical idea being repeated beyond exhaustion, it's appreciative that the band never really stumble in their delivery.
Die On My Ride
unfortunately proves to be very top-heavy, because most of the songs which succeed here are certainly at the forefront of the album. From the completely bland "Ashley" onwards, it would seem that Tengger Cavalry as a collective had suddenly decided to roll out some of the most uninspired songs they could think of. "Ashley" is the one song on the album which doesn't fit at all. Overtly poppy melodies (despite being performed by the band's two folk instruments-the Igil and the Morin Khuur) give way to frontman Nature Ganganbaigal's soppiest vocal performance yet, and it only takes a minute for the song itself to end up offering headaches rather than headbangs. It doesn't get better from here either. "The Frontline" and "Me Against Me" are both devoid of any convincing performance, resulting in bland songwriting and even blander delivery. The mid-paced gallop inherent in earlier songs is much the same, but this time it seems to have been done with the least amount of effort involved. Even the strange, earthy narrative performance proves a lackluster aspect, proceeding to end both aforementioned songs with a fizzle.
At a mere 33 minutes long, Die On My Ride
feels like a wasted attempt in progressing a particularly unique brand of folk metal. The first half is admittedly some of the strongest material Tengger Cavalry could have come up with, but why the band decided to roll out bland, uninspired material over the course of the album's second half is beyond anyone's comprehension. At least you can say that no band still ever sounds like this, but perhaps said band has already ventured beyond a tried-and-tested formula and progressed into something at least memorable.