Mongolian Metal Goes Viral: Meet The HU Band

Happy 2019, Danger!Sounders! Here’s hoping this New Year is as foot-stompingly incredible musically as the first act we’ve discovered this year, The HU Band. This is what happens when Mongolian Metal Goes Viral: Meet The HU Band.

With some help from their gorgeously produced YouTube videos going viral over the past week, the Western world is now aware that Mongolian rock exists–thank the metal gods that we do. Melodic and powerful. Visceral and energetic. Based solely on the only two songs they have released–both now online sensations–this band has big things in store. The imagery and cinematography of “Wolf Totem” above call to mind a coupling of blockbusters like Sons of Anarchy and Netflix’s equally badass Marco Polo. My jaw didn’t leave the floor for the entire 5:35 minute duration of the song. As it turns out, the story of Mongolian rock as a whole is just as interesting.

In Mongolian, ‘hu’ means ‘human’ and is the inspiration for both the band name and their self-titled musical style, hunnu rock. In the 1970’s, Mongolia transitioned to a democracy, and with the influx of Western styles of music, Mongolian protest rock was born. (Mongolian Hip-Hop was also born, so feel free to dive down that rabbit hole–I’m sticking to the rock side here.) Their culture has taken Western influence and truly created something all their own.

More on the *positive* nationalist pride side of protest rock, The HU Band’s songs all sing of cultural identity in the voice of their unique guttural throat singing, paired with traditional instruments like horse-head fiddles, Jew’s harp, and Mongolian guitar layered over unrelenting modern bass lines and rockin’ drums. Especially in their other single, “Yuve Yuve Yu”, or “what’s going on,” we hear the fact their culture has ‘abandoned the ancestors’, and about Genghis Khan’s birthright to unite countries. It’s impossible not to feel drawn into the power of these songs, especially in “Wolf Totem”- the chanting at times reminded me of a New Zealand haka.

Apparently, these two singles are part of a larger project, to be named Gereg, after a passport needed in the time of Genghis Khan. With this, they aim to both educate the world about Mongolian identity and pride and create a new generation of it. The more modern forms of music are just beginning to take hold in their corner of the globe, as each member of The HU still teaches music at their region’s main university, and each was classically trained in their traditional instruments and musical styles. They’re working to take their wealth of knowledge and bring it to a new world, and with it, awareness of the rich art and creativity of the Mongolian nation.

If a great story and film-worthy videos are what makes a band catch on these days, goddamn is The HU Band positioned to reach a wide audience if they capitalize on their new Internet fame. I cannot wait to keep an eye on these guys, and in the meantime will have their two singles on repeat. You’re welcome, and again, bring on 2019 if it brings us more bands like The HU.