Hunnu Rock
July 7, 2020 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Wolf Totem and Yuve Yuve Yu have racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube, which isn’t bad for Mongolian folk metal band. The HU released their first album, The Gereg, last year. Their YouTube channel has all kinds of content, from a benefit concert for Covid-19 relief in Mongolia, to HU’s in the Kitchen, a series of food-making videos by various members of the band and crew. The band sings in Mongolian and aims its message at a Mongolian audience, but interpreters in the west have wondered about their politics. Mongolia experts Niels Hegewisch and Julian Dierks did a deep dive on that topic (tl;dr not fascist). For a good introduction to The HU, read Katya Cengel’s NPR piece and an interview with the band by Jim Farber in The Guardian.
posted by Kattullus (23 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
(tl;dr not fascist)

Thank heavens.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:32 PM on July 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

God, yeah, that is a relief. Their music is so good.
posted by mhoye at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

the lead singer of papa roach did vocals to this and it's a big heavy metal record right now - i've heard it on several radio stations
posted by pyramid termite at 4:44 PM on July 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

So sometimes I put Youtube Music's random mix on when I am doing housework, and the algorithm decided that I needed to hear a song by The HU approximately once every ten minutes, even though I had previously never expressed any interest in Mongolian metal.

And you know what? That algorithm was not wrong. The music is great. Just reading the titles of the songs had me humming their throughlines without even realizing it.

Which is a way of saying I am very glad to see this post here, and I hope lots of people come to love Mongolian death metal.
posted by seasparrow at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

obligatory flash mob

I love the HU, was lucky enough to see them opening for Babymetal (?) last fall, and deeply traumatized my scan tech when I asked them to put on The Gereg while I went into the CAT scan tube.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just ran into them a couple weeks ago and remain delighted.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:57 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mongolia experts Niels Hegewisch and Julian Dierks did a deep dive on that topic

I'd encourage folks to poke around that blog - there's a lot of other interesting stuff. The books listed on their research page are a bit pricey for my budget these days, but there's a bunch of links to non-paywalled articles too.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:10 PM on July 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Our local Weird DJ introduced us to The HU last year and it is so oddly relaxing for me. It also makes excellent RPG background music.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I saw them live last December and they put on a great show.
posted by mogget at 6:37 PM on July 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just found my favorite Mongolian metal band.
posted by vorpal bunny at 7:03 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

how strange, how strange. l love it.

"The iron cross has its origins in Prussian military decorations, continued to be awarded by the German army under Nazi rule, is still in use by the German Bundeswehr, and has had a surprising currency..." the 7th century c.e. and later as Cross pattée
posted by clavdivs at 7:27 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

The cooking videos are so good! I knew about the band before and a bit about their politics, but wouldn't have come across their cooking videos if not for this post. I didn't know tsuivan was made like that!
posted by Mizu at 7:42 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

(tl;dr not fascist)
Having seen some shows about far-right extremism in Mongolia before I'd heard of The Hu, I was of a strong suspicion that the band followed that persuasion based on their appearance (compared to the Nazis interviewed in the BBC show I saw). Others also seemed to have the same worry, which really put me in a dilemna, because their music is absolutely awesome. I came across the same Deep Dive blog and wasn't entirely convinced by The Hu's statements, but then decided surely Disney/Lucasfilm wouldn't hire Nazis to be part of their biggest franchise canon, would they?
Bad logic aside, I figured that at least they were scrubbing the old videos of the imagery, so it seems they're at least aware of it now, which is a step in the right direction.
But, the controversy doesn't end there! I just missed out on their nearest concert to me since it was scheduled as everything got locked down due to COVID-19. I noticed that they ended up getting stuck in Australia when global travel stopped, but if you read the local comments (Google translate may be required) there are a few people back home disappointed that they were allowed back in the country when many other Mongolians were denied entry.
Hopefully, though, being back home and with a new bassist they can get some new music out there. I sure hope so, because I think the space for Mongolian Folk Metal is huge, since The Gereg isn't enough for me!
posted by Metro Gnome at 11:08 PM on July 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

there are a few people back home disappointed that they were allowed back in the country when many other Mongolians were denied entry
Ah, I see. The Hu's in first.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:49 PM on July 7, 2020 [8 favorites]

Last year’s deleted post about the Hu.

I was taken by the music as well but sort of put off by the fighty nationalist lyricism. I figured the iron cross was probably out of context and clearly central Asian people get a pass on the swastika. Those two images were the reason for the deletion, which was a bit hasty IMO, but understandable for those who have been more directly targeted by right wing extremists.

I admit total ignorance about Mongolian culture and current internal politics (and found little insight from the google at the time). I’ve been following them on the social medias waiting for more context and to see what kind of fan base develops and have been disappointed to see no attempt to translate or bring cultural interpretation to a world audience. Not that it’s the artist’s responsibility to do this, just that they must certainly be discovering there is a large information gap between Western metal heads and easy to access reliable information about Mongolian history and culture.

There are pretty big production values here and with this being more than “here’s some cool traditional music with throat singing”, instead this is a group of traditional musicians brought together by a producer who wanted to incorporate western elements. It’s clear there is intent to say something new and relevant to a larger audience. It’s just not been clear to me what exactly they are saying. Maybe it’s just “this music rawks!” and Mongolians are badasses and frankly that’s fine and par for the course with metal.

I really enjoy and admire the music and am trying to balance that with a healthy skepticism while also acknowledging my own bias about a culture I know nothing about. The album was engineered in LA IIRC and the engineer basically didn’t have more commentary other than “this is great music” and the label’s promotion has been similarly vague.

I appreciate this article’s attempt to contextualize this more, but some of it still seems a bit of a stretch. What I took away from the Hegewisch article was not “not fascist”, but the swastika and iron cross are easily explained away and that the content and context of the music is not easily discernible for outsiders but it may well be just fine. He’s right that a clear statement from the band would help, and a YouTube comment explaining the central Asian significance of the swastika is not such a statement.

At any rate, I am just a curious citizen of the world and fan of music who has been traumatized by recent world events and unfortunately I reflexively end up watching the stirring up of the youths waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’d feel personally uncomfortable raising my fist in the front row at one of their shows with my current level of understanding though I do put on the music occasionally. It is a remarkable sound.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I like this comment on the Quora link by someone who appears to have a central Asian name:
The band is definitely not a bunch of madmen, and there is no risk of you (and the fans) unknowingly becoming a Nazi supporter if that's what you are worried about.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:40 AM on July 8, 2020

I saw The Hu in Oakland last year in a 450-person-capacity theater. It was...

Ya ever put on “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, close your eyes, and just for a moment wholly and sincerely believe you were on a motorcycle tearing down some long ribbon of American highway?

A concert of The Hu is like that, except every time I closed my eyes, for just a moment I was a messenger on a swift pony with a strong bow, riding up on the next city with a message;
When the Horde arrives, you will open the gates, come out, and water and feed our ponies as a sign of submission, or we will burn your shit to the ground.
I have remained steadfastly anti-fascist, pro-nazi-punching, and have not even come near a pony in years.

Very glad to read that they aren’t fashy.

Because that fucking concert was magic.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:14 AM on July 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

From the Guardian article:

"Even so, no one had the notion to translate credible, metallic rock to traditional Mongolian styles before B Dashdondog (AKA Dashka), the producer who formed the Hu."

Although The Hu are undoubtedly awesome, this isn't completely true. I bought a CD of the Tuvan (bordering Mongolia) hard rock band with throat-singing and traditional instruments Yat-Kha in 2003; here's the first track, with some astonishing vocals:

They also did an eerie version of Love Will Tear Us Apart, which can be easily found on the tubes.
posted by illongruci at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I made that original post--I requested that it be taken down after being made aware of the possible Nazi/Fascism connect. I don't regret that at all as it is part of my personal philosophy that if someone lets me know that something I have said or done causes them harm in any way, I will immediately apologize and try to make amends. In this case, taking down the post seemed a good solution.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:17 PM on July 8, 2020

Well this is good. I am glad someone finally investigated it after I spent years shouting into the void at people.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:48 PM on July 8, 2020

Just to note that the Wolf Totem video has been updated to blur out the biker dude's swastika ring.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I’d feel personally uncomfortable raising my fist in the front row at one of their shows

What kind of raising of fists are you imagining that's causing you discomfort? I saw them live back in December and saw no pro-fascist imagery or call-outs.

This is Oakland. People would have noticed.

Fist-raising is a time-honored anti-fascist, communist, and Black Power symbol. If fists are being raised (which... are they? or are you just imagining that there's a line of people in the front row of the concert raising fists?) it's worth looking at who's raising them and why.
posted by Lexica at 8:46 PM on July 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Okay. Spinning The Gereg once again and...Shoog Shoog sans vocals is spot-on Pop-era U2. Go on, listen and tell me I'm wrong.
posted by bassomatic at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

« Older Torpenhow   |   Is it hope? Should I trust it? I want to. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments