Heavy Metal Mongolia

It’s 1985 – about 100 people are standing around in a local concert hall in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Cigarette smoke and the murmur of social activity fill the air in equal measure. Members of the band Ayasiin Salkhi step onto the stage to set up their instruments.

Despite the country’s Soviet-allied government placing restrictions on anything it deems as promoting western ideals, many in the city are familiar with rock and roll, thanks to records and tapes that made their way into the country via black market smugglers or people returning from traveling through the Soviet Union, where contraband from the West is easier to obtain. But once the first guitar chords strike, it’s apparent that Ayasiin Salkhi aren’t playing the rock and roll on those black market records. This is something strange and new – this is heavy metal.


时间回到1985年,大约有100人挤在蒙古首都乌兰巴托的一间音乐厅里,二手烟的烟雾和人们交谈的低语声弥漫于此。这时 Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队的成员走上舞台设置乐器。

尽管当时因为蒙古政府与苏联结盟的关系,所有有助于传播西方思想的行为都被禁止,但许多人对于摇滚乐还是相当熟悉,这要感谢来往于黑市的走私者和从苏联旅行回来的人,他们将唱片和录音带带进蒙古,因为在苏联这些来自西方的违禁品更容易取得。但是,当 Ayasiin Salkhi 弹下第一个和弦,很显然的这不是从黑市那里听得到的摇滚乐—这既新奇又古怪—这是重金属。

As Mongolia’s­ first-ever metal band, Ayasiin Salkhi were pariahs in the 1980s.

Heavy metal was relegated to the fringes of Mongolia’s contemporary musical conscience. But metal has clawed its way back over the last 30 years, and now boasts a growing, dedicated following and its own festival in the steppe nation.

One of the Mongolian metal scene’s most ardent supporters is Unenkhuu Umbanyamba, or Uugii, the man behind Mongolia’s biggest annual heavy metal event – Noise Metal Festival – which marks its five-year anniversary this coming autumn.

After seeing how heavy metal festivals in other countries brought like-minded fans together, Uugii felt Mongolia’s metal community needed one of its own.

“We needed this festival to play, to express ourselves – to, you know, just let our energy and emotions go,” he says.


作为蒙古有史以来第一支金属乐队,生长在 80年代的 Ayasiin Salkhi 是被社会放逐的。

重金属处在蒙古当代音乐场景的最边缘。它花了过去30年的时间慢慢找回自己的地位,现在在这个草原国度里,重金属乐已经拥有为数众多的热忱追随者,甚至还有自己的金属音乐节。

Unenkhuu Umbanyamba(Uugii) 是金属乐最狂热的拥护者之一,他同时也是 “噪音金属节” 的幕后操手。噪音金属节是蒙古金属乐界最具代表性的活动 ,今年秋季即将迎来第五周年。

在看到其他国家的金属音乐节是如何将志同道合的乐迷聚集在一起后,Uugii 认为蒙古也需要这样的活动。“我们需要这个音乐节来表达自己,一个让我们尽情宣泄能量和情绪的地方” 他说。

Uugii, the founder of Noise Metal Festival

The first Noise Metal Festival took place in 2014 at UB Palace, a venue in the capital. Uugii was equal parts excited and nervous at the uncertainty surrounding that inaugural event.

Ten bands were booked – eight local and two foreign acts – yet the execution of the event fell short of Uugii’s expectations. “It was a failure, but a big learning experience,” he recollects, noting production difficulties and the sizeable debt he incurred from renting all the equipment at exorbitant rates.

When asked why the difficulties didn’t deter him from throwing a second festival the following year, Uugii put it simply: “First is the passion I have for the music. Secondly, if I didn’t do it, nobody else would.”


第一届噪音金属节于2014年在首都乌兰巴托的 UB Palace 举行。 Uugii 对于首次举办这种活动,感到既兴奋又紧张。

他总共预定了10组乐队——8个本地乐团和2个外国乐团,但第一次音乐节的执行成效不如 Uugii 的预期。 “这是一次失败的经验,但我们从中学习到很多。” 他回忆起筹办中遇到的各种困难,还有当时因为租用高价设备所留下的巨额债务。

当被问到为什么这些困难没有阻止他举办第二届音乐节,Uugii 回答:“首先是我对音乐的热情。 其次,如果我不去做,就没有人会去做了。”

Subsequent iterations of Noise Metal Festival have gone much better, with the turnout growing each year and international acts from Canada, Russia, Japan and Singapore joining the home-grown lineups.

But Andy Teesh remembers when that wasn’t the case in Mongolia. He was the front-man for Ayasiin Salkhi at that 1985 show.

As a high school student, Teesh’s grades and aptitude in extra-curricular activities earned him a scholarship to study in Russia at a police training school in Volgograd. An Iron Maiden tape made its way into Teesh’s possession when he was visiting Moscow, giving the young Mongolian his first taste of the music that would divert his trajectory as an aspiring officer.

Because Mongolia had close ties to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, many of the steppe nation’s citizens were living, working, and studying in Russia. Teesh met other compatriots who also fell in love with heavy metal – so much so that they wanted to play it.

“I got the idea to start the band in 1984. I met this kid in Moscow that was still in high school but could play the guitar . . . I met another kid who used to live in Odessa that played the drums really well, another kid who played bass,” he says. “We all thought that we needed to start a heavy metal band back home.”

And the group became Ayasiin Salkhi, or “Fair Wind” in English, a name that served as something of an antonym to one more suited to a death metal band – “like ‘Death Hurricane,’” Teesh says with a laugh. The name also kept the band off any intrepid censor’s radar.


噪音金属节后来进行的越来越顺利,到场人次逐年增加,演出乐队也更国际化,来自加拿大、俄罗斯、日本和新加坡的乐队都曾加入演出阵容。

但是当 Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队的主唱 Andy Teesh,回想起以前金属乐还默默无闻的时候——那时 Teesh 还是高中生,课外活动的优异成绩让他获得一笔奖学金,可以在俄罗斯伏尔加格勒的警察培训学校学习。当他访问莫斯科,拿到了一卷铁娘子乐团的录音带。这是这位蒙古年轻人第一次品尝到金属乐,这改变了他的人生轨道,转移了他原本要成为一个军官的目标。

80年代由于蒙古与苏联的密切关系,许多蒙古公民都会去俄罗斯生活、工作和学习。Teesh 在那里遇见了同样喜爱重金属的同好,他们决定要组一个乐队。

“1984年我有了创建一个乐队的想法。我在莫斯科遇到了一个还在念高中、会弹吉他的小子…… 后来我遇到了另一个住在敖得萨的小子,他鼓演奏的很好,还有另一个会弹贝斯的。” 他说,“我们一致认为,我们需要在家乡组一个重金属乐队。”

“这个组合即是后来的 Ayasiin Salkhi (在蒙古语中意思是“正义的风”),这个名字恰好是一个 “死亡金属乐队” 的反义词。“可能 ‘死亡飓风’ 这样的名字会更适合金属乐队吧。”  Teesh 笑着说,但这个名字让他们成功躲过了审查员的雷达。

By 1985, all members of Ayasiin Salkhi were back in Ulaanbaatar, having spent the previous year practicing their sound. In that time, Teesh landed a job with the Investigation Department of Mongolia’s Ministry of Justice, a position he is still proud of. In stark contrast to the long-hair, black skull cap, heavy Iron Maiden shirt and combat boots dons on any given day, Teesh still has black-and-white pictures of the clean-cut, fresh-faced investigator he was back then, complete with the crisp, grey uniform of his profession. But that didn’t stop the band from practicing constantly.

“When I came back, I earned the rank of lieutenant,” he says. “I even played in the Investigation Department’s band. However, I started to put Ayasiin Salkhi first and spent more time practicing because, in the end, I was a metal head.”

That was the same year Ayasiin Salkhi had their inaugural, ill-fated show.


到了1985年,Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队所有成员都回到了乌兰巴托,他们花了一整年的时间不断地练习。当时 Teesh 在蒙古司法部的调查部门已经找到一份工作,想到这段过往,他仍然不掩骄傲的神情。工作所需保持的形象和平常留着长发、带着黑色骷髅帽子、身穿铁娘子乐队的衣服和一双军靴的他,形成了鲜明的对比。Teesh 拥有一张他还是调查员的黑白照片,照片中的他干净俐落、神态轻松、穿着整齐的灰色制服。但这份工作没有阻止乐队继续发展。

“当我回来时我获得了中尉的职位。” 他说。“我甚至参加了调查部门的乐队。 但是我开始将 Ayasiin Salkhi 放在我的首位,花上更多时间练习。因为我终究是一个金属迷。“

Ayasiin Salkhi 在同年举行了第一次登台表演,而这是一场不幸的表演。

Teesh recalls: “Our show was really badly received. It was very different in Mongolia back then. The way we were behaving on stage, with the head-banging, our look, and our singing style – for most of the people in the audience, it was very nightmare-like, almost like we were evil.”

There was an almost immediate media blackout enforced on Ayasiin Salkhi. No newspapers were allowed to write about them, no TV stations were allowed to broadcast about them, no radio stations were allowed to play their music. Teesh started to get pressure to abandon heavy metal from family members, friends, and by his superiors at the Investigation Department.

“My bosses told me: ‘Criminals and gangsters listen to this music, so if you are an investigator, be an investigator.’ If you played metal music during communist times, you were seen as supporting Western ideology, as well as disrespecting your own art and culture. In other words, you lacked communist ethics and ideals,” says Teesh.


Teesh 回忆起:“我们那年的表演真的很糟糕。这种音乐当时在蒙古非常少见。我们在舞台上表演的方式,撞击彼此的头,我们的穿着打扮、演唱风格——这对于大多数观众来说是噩梦般的体验,几乎像我们是邪恶的。”

随之而来的,是对 Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队立即的媒体封锁。没有报纸、电视台、广播电台被允许刊登他们的信息,也不能播放他们的音乐。Teesh 开始受到来自家人朋友以及工作上级长官,说服他放弃重金属的压力。

“我的老板告诉我:‘只有犯罪分子或流氓会听这种音乐,如果你是一个调查员,就要有调查员的样子。如果你在共产时期玩金属音乐,你会被认为支持西方意识形态,不尊重你本身的艺术文化。换句话说,你缺乏共产主义的道德和理想。”  Teesh 说。

Mongolia ended its status as a satellite state of the Soviet Union with a democratic revolution in 1990. Just as the country had chosen a new direction, Teesh too had a choice to make that year: a career as an investigator or a life in heavy metal. He chose metal.

“There were few fans, no income, and no respect for us,” says Teesh, who still fronts the band today. “Our families and friends even told us to quit, but it didn’t matter because our hearts were in metal music that much.”

Mongolia’s revolution ushered in a new wave of openness to the outside world in the 1990s, but some of the old biases against what many deemed as western culture remained.


1990年,蒙古发起了民主革命,结束它长期与苏联结盟的关系。正如同国家选择了一个新方向,Teesh 也面临一个抉择:调查人员的职业生涯或是重金属。他选择了重金属。

“我们几乎没有粉丝,没有收入,也没有人尊重我们。” Teesh 说,他今天仍然是 Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队的核心人物。 “当时我们的家人朋友甚至直接告诉我们放弃,但这并不重要,因为金属乐在我们心里实在太重要了。”

当时的革命为蒙古迎来了一股改革开放的新浪潮,但还是有许多人对于西方文化抱持一些难以革除的偏见。

Uugii is a member of the generation of Mongolian metal heads that really embraced the genre in the 1990s. Rock and roll was now celebrated, commemorated with a monument dedicated to The Beatles erected in Ulaanbaatar – one of the bands many growing up in communist Mongolia became fans of through illegal record swaps.

Still, heavy metal and the culture that came with it chafed against the social sensibilities of 1990s Mongolia. “Back in the day, people would say ‘Those metal-heads, or whoever listens to rock, are potheads who are just into drugs and sex,’” says Uugii. “This kind of perception carried onto the next generation and people saw people like me and would say, ‘Oh, you guys who listen to this really heavy music probably do drugs,’ but I don’t even smoke cigarettes.”

That experience sowed the seeds for Uugii to later launch Noise Metal Festival, seeing it as his “mission” to one day “help people here understand metal music more as a form of art.”


Uugii,也就是噪音金属节的主办人,是上世纪90年代拥护这种音乐类型的元老级人物。那时最盛行的是摇滚乐,一个向披头士致敬的纪念碑竖立在乌兰巴托街头,以缅怀这个伟大的乐队。许多成长在共产主义的蒙古之下的人,都是通过黑市的唱片交易认识到披头四的。

尽管如此,重金属及其伴随的文化仍然无法被当时敏感的社会所接纳。 “当时,人们会说 ‘那些听金属或是摇滚乐的人,都是大麻和性爱上瘾的毒虫。’ ” Uugii 说。 “这种观念传到下一代,人们看到像我这样的人,会说 ‘哦,听这种金属乐的人可能都在吸毒’。可是我甚至连烟都不抽。”

这样的经验,在 Uugii 心中种下举办噪音金属节的念头,并将其视为他有朝一日要完成的 “使命”——要帮助人们更理解作为一种艺术形式的金属乐。”

The genre has come a long way in Mongolia since then. Local heavy metal albums can be found in the capital’s music stores, and the internet has ushered in a new era of music discovery for the country’s mostly young population. The new generation of Mongolia’s metal heads faces much less resistance in society. According to some, that fact has fostered a greater willingness in the youth to express themselves how they see fit. And Noise Metal Festival has become a place where all generations of the country’s metal heads gather.

Battulga Khurelbaatar is the lead singer of one of Ulaanbaatar’s up-and-coming heavy metal bands, Growl of Clown. The 21-year-old has taken the stage at Noise Metal Festival with his band for the past three years. With a greater ability to express oneself, he says it’s a lot easier for metal fans to build a sense of community in the country.

The young metal head also sees the genre as having a positive influence, a departure from the biases of the past. “This whole metal thing, I’ve never regretted pursuing it or the things I’m doing. Some people may think they may be better off if they chose a different route, but listening to metal music has been a very positive influence on me,” says Khurelbaatar.


从那之后,金属乐走过了很长一段路。现在在乌兰巴托的唱片行可以找到金属乐专辑,网络的兴起让年轻人更容易接触到新音乐,新一代金属迷在社会上承受的压力要小得多。有些人认为,这波浪潮促使年轻人更愿意表达自己。噪音金属节已经成为各世代金属迷相聚的地方。

Battulga Khurelbaatar 是乌兰巴托崛起的重金属乐队 “Growl of Clown” (“咆哮小丑”) 的主唱。这位21岁年轻人的乐队在过去三年里曾在噪音金属节登台。少了社会的压力,金属迷可以更好的表达自己,他认为现在要在蒙古金属乐迷之间建立凝聚力,再也不是一件困难的事。

年轻的金属乐迷也认为这种音乐类型具有积极的影响力,因为它消除了过去的偏见。 “关于金属乐这件事,我从来没有后悔过追求它和做我现在正在做的事情。有些人可能会认为如果当初选择了不同的路,他们现在会过得更好。但金属乐对我而言有非常正向的影响。” Khurelbaatar 说。

Ayasiin Salkhi has also graced the stages of Noise Metal Festivals. After the turbulence of their first 20 years as a band, they released their first album in 2004. They’ve also racked up countless performances both at home and abroad. Yet, to Teesh, Noise Metal Festival is still an important event for both his band and Mongolia’s metal community as a whole.

“The festival is helping the Mongolian metal scene to grow further. Hopefully, it will attract more metal bands and attendees from abroad to come and experience Mongolia, to see this scene,” says Teesh. “I want more people to experience Mongolian heavy metal.”

While Mongolia’s heavy metal scene has grown, Uugii is still the main force behind its biggest event. Support from outside the metal scene ebbs and flows; the festival has test-driven three venues in its four years of existence, though none is quite a perfect fit. Promises of sponsorship and more commercial funding for Noise Metal Festival often come and go. He generally bears the brunt of the work and financial responsibilities of organizing it. Last-minute changes to the lineup have happened at every festival. Still, the growing turnout year on year means that things are still going more right than wrong.

Despite the difficulties, Uugii expresses no intention of stepping away from keeping the fest going: “When I think about myself, you know, ten years from now, I’ll probably still be doing Noise Metal Fest. I’ll do it for as long as I can. I don’t really feel like I have any other options except to keep doing it.”


Ayasiin Salkhi 乐队的确为噪音金属节增色不少。即使乐队从成立到现在,20年以来经历各种动荡不安,到了2004年终于发行第一张专辑,现在已获得无数国内外的演出机会。然而对 Teesh 来说,噪音金属节对他的乐队和整体乐界来说,仍然是一件重要的事情。

“这个音乐节正在帮助蒙古金属乐市场进一步发展。希望它可以吸引到更多金属乐队和来自国外的乐迷来看看这个地方。” Teesh说,“我希望能有更多人能体验到蒙古的重金属场景。”

尽管蒙古的金属乐版图已经越来越大,但 Uugii 仍然是活动背后的主力军。外界的支持力量时好时坏,四年来他们在三个场地试办过,尽管没有一个是完全适合的。赞助和商业合作的机会总是来来去去,不太稳定。总体上 Uugii 承担着首要的组织工作和财务责任。每次在最后一刻总会发生阵容上的变化。尽管如此,噪音金属节依然年复一年的成长,意味着这件事情是走在正确的方向上,而不是错误的。

即使困难重重,但 Uugii 并不打算放弃这场盛事:“当我试想十年后的自己,我可能还在办噪音金属节,我会尽可能做到这一点。除了继续做下去之外,我并不觉得自己有其他选择。”

Contributor & Photographer: Bejan Siavoshy


供稿人与摄影师: Bejan Siavoshy