The Hu Credit: E. Altankhuyag

Move over, Celts and Vikings—Mongol-horde metal is here. Traditional Mongolian and Tuvan music make natural raw materials for folk-metal fusion, with their regal, windswept tonal palette, their challenging, eerie-sounding vocal styles, and their epic, equestrian-warrior-themed lyrics. So while I’m not the least bit shocked that the Hu (“hu” is a Mongolian root word for a human) sound as good as they do, I am pleasantly surprised by how fast the band have taken off among mainstream metal and hard-rock fans. Since the Hu formed in Ulaanbaatar in 2016, their cinematic, rousing, and witty music videos have been watched by millions, and their songs “Wolf Totem” and “Yuve Yuve Yu” have cracked the top ten on the Billboard digital hard-rock chart—not too shabby for a group who use traditional Mongolian instrumentation and throat singing (and don’t write lyrics in English). Last month, these modern traditionalists released their full-length debut, The Gereg (Eleven Seven), and it does not disappoint. Its songs have a potent sense of atmosphere and momentum, and the pining, reedy sound of the morin khuur (horsehead fiddle) adds a soulful drone that’s strong enough to lift even the thinner tunes high.   v