Hailing from Romania, Pagan black metallers Negura Bunget encapsulate everything that is inherently spiritual about black metal. Their sound transcends the boundaries of the standard black metal soundscape, giving it room to breathe, room to grow and to fester.
Don’t get me wrong, it still holds true to the roots that spawned from the icy wastelands of Norway in the early nineties but there is something about the Eastern European elements that these guys include that make this feel like a ritual…a sacrifice.
In the nineteen years since their formation, Negura Bunget have put out six full lengths with this being the seventh and with a constantly changing lineup the only continual member happens to be Negru, the drummer. So now that the history lesson is over we’ll talk about the album.
Tau for want of a better word is haunting, it’s a lurking darkness that feels both cold and welcoming in equal parts. The first track Nametenie is a monolith of sound, clocking in at over 10 minutes. It feels like an assault on the senses where a cold and foreboding ambience is achieved before being hacked apart with some well timed and most welcome harsh intervals. This somewhat bipolar approach only aims to increase the sense of foreboding.
Black metal is at its finest when it comes to you in a language you don’t understand and this is true here. The emotion comes through the musical delivery and as Izbucu Galbenei takes off, the percussion hits with full force but with that, the guitars themselves become lost in the mix, which is a shame. La Hotaru Ci Cinci Culmi changes the feeling once more, the folk elements I’d heard so much about come into play. Acoustic guitars and tribal drums lead the charge. The vocals become cleaner and more chant-like, a hypnotic rhythm is achieved. I find this naturalistic approach welcome amongst the fog of distortion and harshness. La Hotaru also happens to be the shortest track on the record but the one I wish was longer.
By the time you reach Schiminiceste the band have pulled all of their punches, and they’ve also given you a lesson in Eastern European folk instrumentals and fully utilised all of their arsenal. This last track is downbeat but feels very much like an end credits, with chimes and xylophone sections building the formations of what is the most atmospheric track on the record. Layered with texture upon texture the deliverance is complex and vast. This is a perfect finale.
This breed of black metal is thoughtful and charming whilst still retaining it’s frost bitten edge. Negura Bunget clearly know how to put together an album with character and texture. Its ability to be inwardly heavy and outwardly atmospheric separates them from the the usual black metal crowd and that is fine.
In fact I’ve no doubt this will only aid them further in their growth.