I’ll listen to pretty much anything with Frank Turner’s name on it. He could play two seconds of the triangle on a twenty-minute track and I’d likely lap it up. I was a latecomer to the long-gone Million Dead, finding them long after their split after discovering Turner’s solo material, but I loved what I did eventually find, and like many others I’m very happy to see him return to his hardcore roots alongside Ben Dawson also of Million Dead and Matt Nasir of The Sleeping Souls in the form of Möngöl Hörde. After releasing a few songs since their formation in 2012 and playing several live shows last year , including Reading and Leeds festival, their self-titled debut is out now, and it’s outstanding.
If you’re as familiar with Turner’s solo material as I am and aren’t already aware of his hardcore past Möngöl Hörde will surprise you, with Turner unrecognisable outside of the acoustic opening to the brilliant Stillborn Unicorn. The ‘nicest guy in music’ illusion is shattered as soon as the misleading intro to Make Way finishes, and from here on Turner is manic and raging yet still oddly composed. All of the anger and energy that he’s harboured over the last few years and wasn’t able to channel into acoustic songs about last minutes and lost evenings boils over here, erupting during the massive Staff To The Refund Counter, which threatens to blow during a spoken word verse which always seems to be building to something huge and does, launching into stomping cries of ‘I want my money back, I want my fucking money back’ before dropping off again after shades of melody. Dissatisfaction has rarely been so well expressed, and when Turner sings ‘I’m trying to be grateful but I’m a little disappointed’ disappointed doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Möngöl Hörde is furious, and the band clearly means business. This is, musically speaking, proper hardcore punk along the lines of Refused, with vocals switching with ease between lightning spoken word sections and screams as the instrumental dynamic shifts in perfect sync. Möngöl Hörde consists of three members who’ve known each other for a while now, and as a result their eponymous debut sounds much more self-assured and confident than a debut normally would, with a clear cohesion between each aspect of the band’s music. It allows them to be creative and explore, and Möngöl Hörde is far more than your standard run of the mill hardcore record. Despite the band’s often flippant approach to songwriting Möngöl Hörde are far from a novelty act or distraction from main projects, and when Turner shouts ‘make way for the Möngöl Hörde, coming back to fuck you up‘ on empathic opener Make Way you’d better fucking move, or at least join the riot. Judging by this line amongst others the band don’t take themselves too seriously, but there’s still a very sharp, cutting edge to their music which remains apparent despite songs about Natalie Portman’s rebellious tapeworms (Tapeworm Uprising), time travelling Beatles (Hey Judas), or zombie unicorns (Stillborn Unicorn). Lyrically the record is often as bizarre as those three topics make it out to be, but these oddly engaging narratives work well, and the social commentaries, bizarre stories and the few underlying political messages also featured make Möngöl Hörde one of the most lyrically compelling hardcore records of recent memory, offering something different and doing so alongside a soundtrack which roars and rumbles, begging to be listened to. At times the production does hamper the experience, with vocals sometimes drowned out or drums sounding diluted, and the record doesn’t always hit as hard as it perhaps could, as a result of an occasionally muddy mix. Towards the end of its runtime Möngöl Hörde does become slightly repetitive, as is often the case with records of this nature, but it manages to keep things interesting enough that this isn’t a big issue, ending with perhaps its most intriguing song in the time-bending, questioning Hey Judas which features some off-key, daunting electronics and chugging instrumentation.
For the most part Möngöl Hörde is a spirited and savage record, only really relenting for one of its thirteen tracks, which provides a welcome breather before it suckerpunches the air right back out of you. The Yurt Locker delivers a minute or so of drifting piano and drowsy ambience; think the opening minute of Grey Britain’s Misery, the calm before the storm, and there are other instances here where Mongol do sound like Frank Carter-era Gallows. Blistering Barnacle Blues (which features the most accurate use of an adjective in a song title so far this year) is as energetic as Abandon Ship with Möngöl Hörde taking the wheel – although unlike that track there’s no chance of an apology here should their vehement vessel sink. Möngöl Hörde aren’t the type to say sorry, more likely to throw you overboard as the piracy of the track suggests than hand you a life jacket just in case something disastrous should happen. Winky Face The Mark Of A Moron is another short selection more along the lines of Municipal Waste or Trash Talk, thrashing along as Turner shouts ‘Upper bracket semi-colon, you’re fucking kidding me‘ as part of a punctuation protest song which is pretty much spot on, although ‘cunt’ might be considered a bit strong. Lyrically Möngöl Hörde won’t be for everyone and it might even offend, god forbid, but taken for what it it’s an incredibly fun release, with songs like Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen positively bouncing along, even throwing in a New Noise-plucked ‘Whoo!’ for good measure, featuring some impressive technical riffing guitar work from Dawson and crashing drums courtesy of Nasir. This review’s been quite Frank-heavy but there’s no denying the quality of the instrumental side to Möngöl Hörde. It’s brash and loud, with song after song being exhilarating in its delivery, aggressive and accomplished. Strip away the vocals and what you’d be left with is a soundtrack for chaos. Your Problem is brutal as it progresses, sitting back slightly around the middle to writhing guitars and smart drumming before biting back, ending with a menacing thrash infused final minute and although its one of the weaker track it still leaves a mark, similarly to following track How The Communists Ruined Christmas which is around what you’d expect given its title. It’s weird, but it’s very well done, as is the entirety of the record.
Möngöl Hörde is everything I wanted it to be and then some. It’s hostile, in your face and brilliantly executed, and despite a few darker messages it’s one hell of a good time. Pick this up, play it loud, and above all else enjoy it, because Möngöl Hörde have absolutely knocked it out of the park.
Listen to: Stillborn Unicorn / Staff To The Refund Counter / Blistering Blue Barnacles