Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

The HU – Wolf Totem

You know you’ve made it when you have a “Vocal Coach Reacts” video with your song on YouTube…


Alfred Soto: A shrewd campaign exploiting their exoticism took this Mongolian metal band’s hit to #1 on Hard Rock Digital Song Sales chart last month. While I’m not qualified to contextualize it in contemporary metal, as pure aural experience “Wolf Totem” is sensational in every sense of the word: throat singing gutterals and string instruments familiar and new popping up in the unexpected places. It plods a bit.

Katherine St Asaph: First impression: twice as long as it needs to be. Impression after having it on repeat a half-dozen times: that would seem to be disproven.

Iain Mew: They take a vaguely menacing stomp a long way before it eventually starts meandering in circles. On their side they have focus, lightness of touch, and bird samples which perfectly play up the idea of tapping into something living and fully-formed.

Will Adams: An aspect of metal I appreciate is its way to wring texture out of its intense distortion, and the throat singing on “Wolf Totem” makes for a solid, tactile listen. Docked a point for putting the guitars so far back in the mix.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A masterplay in aesthetics — from the throat singing and distorted strings to the almost Buddhist-like chanting rhythm of the lyrics, “Wolf Totem” does a great job of disguising that at its core it’s just a standard hard rock song.

Ian Mathers: The thing about marrying metal to outside elements (in this case Mongolian throat singing and traditional instruments like the horsehead fiddle) is that the metal kind of doesn’t need to be interesting on its on at that point. In this case that it’s just a steady midtempo plod actually works for “Wolf Totem,” although no less than it works for dozens of more conventional outfits. For me, at least, this one is more successful than the other song they’ve released so far (“Yuve Yuve Yu”) because it leans more into the simple, blunt-force power of that combination. Not sure how sustainable it’ll be, but this is as interesting as any current band of white guys growling about Satan.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: When traditional instrumentation merges with typical Western pop/rock song aesthetics, the latter is virtually always the reason the song suffers. The best parts about this are less the confluence of musical ideas than the fiddle and throat singing themselves. I wouldn’t quite label this mere novelty, but it’s also not better than something that is.

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