Buddhism and metal may not seem like a natural pairing upon first glance, but Nine Treasures — a Mongolian/Chinese act who infuse modern metalcore with traditional folk instruments of the region — will convince you otherwise.
"I was born at the very edge of the Inner Mongolia province in China ... where heavy metal music hardly makes an appearance in any case," says band leader Askhan, who recalls the story of this musical and spiritual fusion beginning with his very observant grandmother's ritual of taking him to a temple named Arxan to pray.
One day after a visit, the two "arrived at the home of a Lama (title of a teacher of Buddhism) afterward. I was told that I could go hang out with the son of the Lama (and yup, from where I am from a Lama can surely get married and have kids). When I walked into the son's room, I saw a young dude with long hair, jamming on his electric guitar – playing some repetitive riff over and over again, to the point that he totally ignored my visit! ... That was the very first time I'd heard the amazing sound of the distortion from an electric guitar!"
This introduction to heavy metal stuck with Askhan, leading him to where he is today with the band, who are now part of a new underground label formed by Nature Ganganbaigali, the frontman for fellow Mongolian folk metal outfit Tengger Cavalry. Now furthering the tradition of combing aspects of their culture in the modern metal soundscape, Nine Treasures have released a video for their song "Bodhicitta" featuring a guest spot from the frontman Oyun Dalai from scene contemporaries Liberation.
The video features the band in a dark studio with frantic, shifting lighting and spirited performances by the musicians involved, three of whom are on traditional rock instruments (drums, bass, and guitar) and two on folk instruments: yatga (aka guzheng in Chinese) and morin khuur (also known as horsehead fiddle). A fascinating and expertly executed collision of the two worlds, the video shows the passion and precision of every moving part involved and draws the listener in to explain visually the uncommon yet remarkable sounds in the music. Driving yet peaceful, a stunning mix of new and old, "Bodhicitta" is a beautiful example of what can be created when the sometimes strident boundaries of heavy metal are pushed.
"Throughout the years, I kept thinking about how I was introduced to heavy metal for the first time in my life," Askhan emphasizes. "I have to say it really seems like my destiny."