Back in the early 2000’s there was a Melodic Hardcore band, based in London, called Million Dead. They released a couple of albums that did alright but they split shortly after the second, Harmony No Harmony, was released. Their singer, Frank Turner, went on to have much more success with a series of folky solo albums and had a spot in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. You’ve probably heard of him.
Möngöl Hörde are a side project of Frank Turner, along with Ben Dawson (Also formally of Million Dead and Matt Nasir (of Frank’s current backing band The Sleeping Souls). It sees a return to the Hardcore style of Million Dead.
When I heard this I was concerned because, here’s the thing, I never really liked Million Dead and the thing I didn’t like was Frank’s voice. It was too yarpy and grating. When he started his solo stuff I found that his voice suited that style of music much better and didn’t irritate me at all and I really like everything he's done since
With Möngöl Hörde my concern was that his voice would irritate me again and that would make me sad. Happily this has turned out not to be the case, whether that’s down to the fact Frank’s voice has matured in the years between the two bands or that repeated listens to Sleep Is For The Week have acclimatised me to his voice, I don’t know. Probably both I would guess.
Things ease in with a few bars of relaxing jazz before Frank bellows “Once upon a time in Mongolia!” and Make Way kicks off and immediately highlights a couple of points. Firstly Möngöl Hörde is heavier, more abrasive and less serious than anything Million Dead ever recorded. Secondly, the real star of this album is guitarist Matt Nasir. He churns out great riffs, swirling feedback and some unique little bits and pieces. In several songs he does some interesting staccato style guitar lines that are really effective and help the band stand out.
Weighed And Found Wanting is a furious rant about knobheads. Tapeworm Uprising slows the pace down with some of the aforementioned staccato guitar and is lyrically ridiculous. Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen and Staff To The Refund Counter are both vitriolic and oddly humourous.
(L-R) Frank Turner, Ben Dawson and Matt Nasir
The Yurt Locker is a short, piano-led instrumental that soon gives way to Stillborn Unicorn, the first of the best three songs here. It’s haunting and sorrowful whilst still being fast paced and screamy. It’s about an unwanted pregnancy that becomes an unwanted child. There’s a line in the chorus that’s simple but effective “Wanted or not, She was still born”.
Winky Face: The Mark Of The Moron is a minute long tirade of hate. You can figure out the theme yourself.
Weak Handshake is another tirade against an unnamed person, though it does seem to be someone in the music industry. Your Problem is the most inherently political Hardcore track here and there’s a nice Communism/Animal Farm touch in the final repeated line “All animals are equal but some are pigs”. That leads nicely into How The Communists Ruined Christmas. If ever you wanted to hear a song about Karl Marx being Santa, well now’s your chance.
Blistering Blue Barnacles is about being the captain of your own ship; being your own person and steering your life where you want it to go. The title alludes to one of my childhood heroes, the grumpy and alcoholic Captain Haddock from the Tintin books, it’s a nice touch.
The final track is Hey Judas, a track regarding the moral and physical consequences of time travel. Oh, and The Beatles being killed off by Keith Richards. It alternates between sparse, quiet passages and full on hardcore riffs and screams. It climaxes with a repetitive two note guitar part and a whispering Frank warning Paul McCartney to watch his back. It's surprisingly ominous.
I’ve gone from worrying I wouldn’t like Möngöl Hörde to thinking it one of the best albums released so far this year. It’s a near flawless album that doesn’t get samey, tries something different and is hugely enjoyable. I hope it's the start of something more and not just a one off project.
Best Track – Stillborn Unicorn
9 out of 10 – Almost Perfect…Almost
Listen to Möngöl Hörde on Spotify HERE
Buy it on Amazon HERE
Once again, the BlogSpot video uploader is knacked. If you would like to watch the video for Make Way then click HERE cheers.