Warriors of Devastation is the first demo release by Australia based folk metal act Shangren. The band, which is led by Leonard Ong, considers their brand of music to be ‘Asian Folk Metal’, which is created by mixing traditional Asian instruments with extreme metal sounds, and as such can be considered to be part of the oriental metal variant of folk metal. There are six tracks on the demo, which was released in 2011.
Kicking off with those traditional Asian influences right away, Shangren quickly lets their listener know what they’re about. The metal sounds in their music are mostly drawing from death metal with Leonard Ong providing a pretty decent growl. Production wise the metal instrumentation seems to have taken a back seat in the mix, allowing for the vocals and folk elements to shine through. The ideas used create an interesting sound, although because the guitars are not exactly dominate in the mix, and despite the strong growl of Ong, the music doesn’t come up as heavy as it sometimes seems intended.
The compositions are the strongest point of the demo though, and the use of Asian instruments makes me a nice and refreshing change within the folk metal genre. Naturally there are some tracks out of the six present on the demo that are better than others, with Passage of Sighs and The Grand Unity being some of the highlights of the experience. I also like the way that the songs have been composed so that the Asian instruments are used to create very different sounding melodies, because I quite often find that much standard folk metal doesn’t have that much variation where folk ideas are concerned, even though the genre itself probably has the most variety when it comes to mixing up folk sounds with metal ones.
Warriors of Devastation is an impressive first release from Shangren and I can’t wait for them to release an album. While I personally feel that these songs would sound better with a better production job when one bares in mind that this is just a self-produced demo release there really isn’t anything to complain about and I’ve heard weaker releases from established bands. For this excellent demo Shangren is certainly deserving of a score at the high end of the spectrum. Folk metal fans, keep an eye on this one!
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)