Music to Write Realmgard to: The Expedition

“J.B. Norman, what is best in life?”

Tengger Cavalry was a ChineseMongolian/American Folk Metal band that makes for a fairly obvious comparison to The Hu — though Tengger Cavalry leaned more towards straight-up Metal instrumentation and purely instrumental songs, or songs where the vocals are traditional throat singing rather than lyrics sung in either Mongolian or English.

But, yeah, the comparison is probably inevitable and, honestly, not particularly unreasonable.

Tengger Cavalry had a decent run through the 2010s, ending abruptly with the death of frontman and founder Nature Ganganbaigal in 2019.

In that time, the band did get some good attention from the press, being covered — and well-regard — in various Metal-centric magazines and even being the subject of a feature on CNN.

They also managed to sell out Carnegie Hall in 2015.

Given the significance of horses to Mongolian culture and the Mongol Empire‘s use of said horses to conquer basically All the Way Left, it’s not exactly surprising that Tengger Cavalry’s music can often be described as “galloping.”

Sidebar: after Crusader Kings II introduced the Chinese tributary system as a game mechanic with the Jade Dragon expansion, there were start dates where the Mongols were literally in control of basically half the entire game map — the various Mongol polities and other Yuan vassals were technically separate and autonomous, but the way the tributary system worked, they were still marked on the map as “Yuan“, making the word itself bigger than some of the smaller playable domains…

Sidebar to the sidebar: I also had a game where the Golden Horde went Catholic. Suffice it to say that the Crusades got real interesting at that point…


And, of course, the traditional Mongolian morin khuur — “horsehead fiddle” in English — is very good at replicating horse noises.

For their 2016 album Cavalry in Thousands, the song The Expedition is a pretty solid example of what to expect with Tengger Cavalry: the aforementioned galloping, the combination of Metal instrumentation with traditional Mongolian music, the throat singing, the references to Mongolian history.

Now, the song doesn’t really seem to be about anything, but it’s not hard to envision the Expedition in question being Genghis Khan riding out to ruin somebody’s day — whether it to be get his wife back, defeat his former best friend, or wipe an entire nation off the face of the earth for shaming his envoys.

A 14-th century illustraion of Mongol warriors. From the collection of the Staatsbibliothek Berlin
This is actually just him going for the mail. Long story short, 15 cities were burned to the ground.

A 14-th century illustration of Mongol warriors. From the collection of the Staatsbibliothek Berlin. via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

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