Shortly after the release of this album, Tengger Cavalry announced their disbandment. The Mongolian folk metal leaders’ prolific tendencies make such an occurrence inevitable, but their endless lineup changes, struggles with sleazy industry practices, and even a couple of health scares do make their decision understandable. Unfortunately, Cian Bi sees a group that once charged into battle now sputter to a stop and fade with a whimper.
Despite the overcast of finality on Cian Bi, it isn’t a drastic departure from Tengger Cavalry’s other recent ventures by any means. A crunchy guitar tone provides backbone, the melodies are delivered by the folk instruments, and the vocals are almost exclusively in the signature throat singing style. The appropriately titled “Electric Shaman” dabbles in electronic sounds and there’s a more contemporary feel like their previous couple outings, but there’s not much that they’ve done before.
That said, something is amiss in the performances. The hollow, buzzing guitar tone that had started to creep in comes to a head here, resulting in a lifeless foundation. From there, the folk instrumentation starts to feel like mere window dressing due to the indistinct melodies they present while the vocals just come off as monotonous and tired. It’s hard to tell if the musicians are fatigued, phoning it in, or somewhere in between.
This fatigue also bleeds into the songwriting. Fifteen tracks on an album is questionable enough, but the compositions often feel sloppy. It’s as if there wasn’t much thought put into their creation beyond tempos and chord progressions, many of which end up sounding alike anyway. The songs generally running at a three-minute average fortunately makes for a breezy listen, but it’s a shame when the album’s most memorable moment is the awful lyric on “One-Track Mind.”
Cian Bi isn’t a disaster, but it’s clear that Tengger Cavalry still would’ve run out of batteries if Nature Ganganbaigal hadn’t decided to pull the plug. The band’s signature atmosphere is still present and there may be some listeners who can still appreciate the novelty, but you’ll get much more out of Blood Sacrifice Shaman or Ancient Call. Hopefully Nature can recharge, take some time to get in a better headspace, and come back stronger with a new project.
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