Mongolian Folk Metal…Meet – Tengger Cavalry

band photo

Heavy Metal has always leant itself to epic and grandiose subject matter – tales of warriors, knights, and battles in far off lands. In fact it wouldn’t be difficult to score the Game of Thrones TV series with a playlist of Manowar, Blind Guardian, Iron Maiden, and Nightwish. Or HBO could just sign up Nature Ganganbaigal – I have no doubt he’d be up to the challenge.

Nature composes music for film, commercials and video games. He is a professional Mongolian fiddle Morin khuur player and throat singing performer and the winner of 2014 New York University Film Score Competition.

Nature is also the creator, bandleader and guitarist of Mongolian folk metal band Tengger Cavalry. Folk metal? Yes, Folk Metal.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss Tengger Cavalry as a campy outfit though. This is serious stuff. Symphonic, powerful, and authentic, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see them play Carnegie Hall the night after they play Wacken Open Air.

Wicked old school metal riffs, thundering drums, accompanied by traditional throat singing, and horse-head fiddle along with masterful musical composition and orchestration makes for quite a listening experience.

With Nature’s recent relocation to New York (he was pursuing a master’s degree in Film Music), TC has shuffled their lineup and are ready to forge ahead.

So open your mind, raise the devil horns and let Tengger Cavalry take you on an epic journey of music and culture.


2012: Sunesu Cavalry
2013: The Expedition
2014: Ancient Call
2015: Blood Sacrifice Shaman

Demo albums
2009: Tengger Cavalry
2010: Blood Sacrifice Shaman

We are…
Tengger Cavalry
Alex Abayev:  bass player, Russian-Central Asian. Coming from a strong death metal background, Alex performed with renowned metal acts such as Immortal and Cephalic Carnage

Yuri Liak: drummer, Ukrainian. Being a professional performer for many years, Yuri shared stages with big guns such as Nightwish, Therion, Overkill and Opeth.

Robert McLaughlin: Igil fiddle player, American. Growing up with a close relationship with Tuva people in USA, Robert studied the Tuva fiddle Igil, Tuva throat singing and Tuva language. He is also a shaman.

Nature Ganganbaigal: guitar / vocal / morin khuur, Chinese-Mongolian. Being a Grammy Awards voting member and New York based composer, Nature is able to perform multiple folk instruments.

Our music can be described as….
Mongolian folk metal, or North Asian nomadic metal

We are originally from?
Beijing, China

How did you become Tengger Cavalry?
It was a one man project back in 2011. After few releases it got very good feedback and that’s how the band started to establish and expand. We become a full band in 2011 performing in fests and bars.

Tell us about how the idea came to combine traditional Mongolian nomadic folk music with Heavy Metal?
I worship the Mongolian blue sky and love the grassland and wild life there. Combining it into metal, my fav genre, to make it sounds epic and celestial is my own way to admire the Mongol tradition and also a way to develop modern Mongolian rock genre.

What is the metal scene like in China?
Becoming really awesome. We had Metallica, Exodus, Arch Enemy, Behemoth and Kreator all went to tour in China. We have big metal fan base in Beijing

Tell us about the reaction to Tengger Cavalry in China/Mongolia?
People are surprised and find it unexpected in a good way. They never heard something like this before.

How has the metal community accepted the band?
They love it. People said they love to hear different culture use their own way to celebrate metal music. Also it is not often a metal band from far east could deliver their sound into western world so people are very curious about it

Tell us about the Mongolian aspects of the band – the instruments and throat-singing.
We mainly use Morin Khuur, also known as Horse-head fiddle as our melody instrument. We sometimes use Yatga, a plucking instrument a bit similar to Harp, to decorate some motives. Throat singing as chant, appears in different passages.

There are throat singers here in Canada, in Nunavut but Inuit performers are usually women who sing only duets in a kind of entertaining contest to see who can outlast the other. How did you learn this practice?
I learned it nearly seven years ago when I was in Beijing visiting different Mongol artists to learn this unique musical tradition. It is hard cause there is no scientific way to learn it. More like an intuition thing that requires feeling and other. And I am still crafting my skill and improving.

Tengger means “sky father” – is your music spiritually influenced?
Yes, I worship the sky father. We have food, have animals, have this wonderful life, all given by the sky. I feel grateful about it.

What music/artists have had an influence on your sound?
Recently I just finished my masters degree in Film Music in New York University so you could hear many filmic influence in our newest album Blood Sacrifice Shaman

Tell us about your live show…
In our live show we dressed up in Mongol tradition and have tradition Mongol elements on stage. We try to use visual elements to bring more grassland feeling to people.

Your music is very cinematic – tell us about your work in film/TV/Gaming?
I compose film and game music. I just graduated from NYU of its film music program. I love composing stuff for pictures.

Growing up, at home I listened to…..
Slipknot. I was angry when I was kid and I still listen to Slipknot. Just dig it

What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Skyforger, the folk metal band from East Europe.

When you’re not playing/writing/recording and have some time off, where could we find you…
At home, practicing fiddle, or at horse stable, riding horses. I love horses

The one thing I want you to remember while you’re listening to my music….
Enjoy the beauty of grassland and nature

What’s up for 2015/2016?
Trying to set up the band in US and tour.

Tengger Cavalry – Website


Metal Hell Records

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Domestic now, but spent early to late 80s playing drums in a hair metal band in Toronto. Since then I've lost the hair and have found new ways to scratch the rock and roll itch.

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