Album Review: Nine Treasures — “Awakening from Dukkha”

The Mongolian folk metal scene has definitely had an awakening in the last decade and one of, if not, the biggest band in that movement have been Nine Treasures who’ve managed to combine the feeling of Mongolia with metal in a rather positive and charming way. Formed in 2010, the band celebrated its 10th birthday last year and are now releasing a best of album in the form of Awakening from Dukkha.

The band has recently removed a lot of their material from the internet, which has gotten rather mixed responses from their fan base, but in their statement they’ve said they don’t want something they’re not completely proud of being released. Hence the release of this record, which offers re-recorded versions of some of the band’s best songs.

The album opens with “Black Heart,” a classic of not only the band, but the entire Mongolian folk metal scene and a great track to introduce people to the style. The song is definitely produced better and a bit more polished, although not having the previous versions available to listen to makes comparisons a bit tricky.

If you’re wondering what dukkha is why the band is awakening – so was I. Turns out it’s a concept in Hinduism and Buddhism that can be translated as a feeling of unhappiness, suffering or pain. Thus making it a perfect name given the world’s current situation, which seems to be slowly awakening from this dukkha, as well as being fitting for the band as it enters another era.

Nine Treasures have done really well for themselves and have toured extensively and performed at festivals such as Woodstock Poland and even the great Wacken Open Air. What gives the Mongolians such a unique sound is in large part the morin khuur and the balalaika, both stringed instruments, and especially the former being an absolute staple of the Mongolian folk sound, which is very prominent in songs like “Three Years Old Warrior” or “Arvad Ald Guulin Honshoor.”

Nine Treasures

Vocally, Askhan Avagchuud manages to find a really nice balance between Mongolian guttural vocals and melodic delivery, which makes the music quite approachable to people who aren’t necessarily into the more extreme subgenres as well. Awakening from Dukkha is a really great collection of the band’s work so far that’s been overhauled well and definitely shows the band’s progress and better quality, which should bode well for future releases as long as the band continues to grow and hopefully opens the door for more great bands for the area.

Didrik Mešiček

Awakening from Dukkha is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Nine Treasures, visit their Facebook page.

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