“Once upon a time in Mongolia...” screams Frank Turner as his hardcore side-project’s album kicks off. Joined Matt Nasir on guitar (keyboardist in Turner’s live backing band The Sleeping Souls) and Ben Dawson (drummer in Turner’s previous hardcore band Million Dead), Mongol Horde are certainly a departure from his solo work. Anyone expecting him to be singing about believing in rock and roll will be sorely disappointed as he tackles topics such as Genghis Khan, Paul McCartney and John Lennon being time travellers, and a tapeworm uprising in Hollywood.
As hardcore albums go, this debut is certainly a solid one. Massive riffs supported by pounding drums, topped with pure anger about seemingly ridiculous subjects. Things work best when everyone plays off one-another: ‘Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen’ has a riff the size of Ulaanbaatar, the drums provide elevation and Turner sounds, well, committed. ‘Stillborn Unicorn’'s huge outro delivers another highlight as Turner screams his way through the tale of a stillborn unicorn. Full marks also for the production, allowing Nasir to show off his riffing skills and giving Turner’s vocals room to breathe whilst never overpowering Dawson’s drums.
Despite the somewhat formulaic nature of the songwriting, Mongol Horde still seems fresh and ready for the mosh pit. Any fans of Turner’s solo work unaware of his musical past may be incredibly surprised but the old guard will love it.