Recently I have been getting into folk metal bands that use their own countries’ native instruments in their music. And I’m not talking about all those Scandinavian folk bands that have already been done to death. Nope, I’m talking about two much poorer countries with folk music decent enough for bands to want to use it in their metal: China and Colombia! Neither band is amazingly talented but both are interesting, playing something I haven’t heard before and playing well enough so that their lack of experience doesn’t distract from the music. Let’s take a look at these strange folk metal bands: Voodoo Kungfu (yeah, that’s the band’s real name) and Guahaihoque (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?).
This band is just really weird, one of the weirdest I’ve come across. They are located in China and write everything in Chinese, so it was not easy to find out information about them. Anyway, as I said in the brief intro, they incorporate their cultural instruments into the metal. They have a person who plays the “Mongolian cello,” which immediately makes me think of Apocalyptica. But unlike said band, this guy doesn’t rock out; he just plays some nice backing melodies for the rest of the group to base their metal on. Fortunately, the band doesn’t just ignore him and give him nothing to do except prove background, and instead allow him quite a bit of play time, especially on the track “This Shore,” which is a very pretty track summing up what the band is about in its runtime.
Now on to more technical (and negative) aspects. The quality, surprisingly, is very good and clear, as are all of the instruments. None of them really overpower the others, and the music sounds excellent. The guitars sound very heavy and although the guitarist doesn’t do any flashy solos, you can tell he is quite proficient in his instrument.
Now, on to the vocals. Vocal performance is always where underground bands seem to falter, and here it is no exception. The vocalist can scream, growl and (occasionally) sing normally, although he does it so little you won’t even notice. His deeper growls are alright too, but his screams are incredibly annoying. He’s good at doing that style, but like Dani Filth he chose one of the most annoying styles to learn. Even worse, he’s one of those vocalists who has to be making noise constantly, so you’ll have to be listening to him for almost the entire album. This band could have been amazing if the vocals had been handled correctly, but instead, it’s just good. Yeah, just good.
I don’t even know how to begin to pronounce this band’s name, but since theywrite their songs in English, understanding them gets easier. They are another extreme folk metal group equipped with ethnical instruments, this time located in Colombia. They bring an assortment of Latin American woodwinds to the table, which is easily the best part of the band. The rest is mediocre at best. Let me explain: for some reason the quality of the woodwinds and acoustic parts is really good, but the quality of the metal parts is way worse. It’s like they used two different devices to record, and it sounds kind of odd when they are playing together.
Technically speaking, the only very talented player is the guy on woodwinds, who can create some excellent beautiful melodies on them. The guitarist is next–his electric guitar playing isn’t anything to write home about, but he really shines in the acoustic sections. Then come the rest of the band members, most of whom don’t show off very much. Even the vocalist doesn’t come barreling into the song very much, which is good because like the vocalist of Voodoo Kungfu, he needs improvement. His growls just don’t have much power behind them; they sort of get lost in the music, and when they don’t they just come out as annoying. His regular singing is better, but not anything we haven’t heard before.
So these are two bands that like to incorporate a different type of folk music into their songs. If you like other cultures and their music, check them out, otherwise, they don’t offer much. Voodoo Kungfu has better sounding music, but the vocals are a lot worse than Guahaihoque’s who, sadly enough, need some improvement in the musical section. I would listen to both of these guys again, but if they disbanded, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. See ya!