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The Cognizance of Emotion - 99%

opprobrium_9, February 13th, 2007

No measurement or gauge of any sort applies to this genius. No categorical or genre defining parameters can be associated with it. Not only do Negura Bunget spit in the face of “scene” culture with this album, they spit in the face of Black Metal’s musical history, musical properties, and its conventions. With no need to rebel by means other than their music, Negura Bunget perch upon their sylvan throne with nothing but distaste for anything put out by the genre to date or anything that it will ever put out. No words need to explain, no pictures need to show one their expression of refutation, their denunciation of Black Metal’s dominion, and even its precedential integrity. However, to limit 'n Crugu Bradului to such concepts as “rebellion” is criminal at best. The album transcends all, and that includes itself. Alien to our simple understanding, 'n Crugu Bradului crushes even the word “understanding,” and verily crushes every other word and concept, for this album is the embodiment of everything. This work is an anthem to the all powerful and ever present, and consequently itself; yet, the album abounds with modesty, and as such, it in no direct manner sings an ode to its own brilliance.

Far surpassing any semblance of or even association with the material drivel of early and contemporary Black Metal, Negura Bunget step outside, not only themselves with 'n Crugu Bradului, but the Black Metal community as a whole. Some similarities exist, as structurally, this is in the vein of old Darkthrone. As one wanders through I, II, III, and IIII, hints of Transilvanian Hunger’s basic layout are noticeable. However, unprecedented usage of layering, complexity vs. subtly, and conceptual fortitude, reveal 'n Crugu Bradului depths, strengths, and unbound efficacy. Darkthrone oriented Black Metal truly wears a new mask, if one talks in shallow terms, and is by no means basic anymore. The inaccessibility of this album far outweighs the inaccessibility of Transilvanian Hunger now, and possibly outweighs TH’s inaccessibility at the time of its release. Yet, again, this music is so far advanced from the Darkthrone sound, or any sound for that matter, that there is no comparable association that can be made, or that should be. Associations with Darkthrone, any other band, or anything native to a man’s consciousness demeans this album’s worth and majesty; 'n Crugu Bradului can only be associated with itself. What’s more, 'n Crugu Bradului brings us out of the dark ages of 90’s 2nd Wave and into a primordial age so distant and antiquated that it can only be expressed through Negura Bunget’s album. Where the Black Metal genre, in all its ornaments, ends one will find 'n Crugu Bradului’s beginning. This is music’s music.

Composed of at least 10-25 movements per song, 'n Crugu Bradului, is compositionally insane. Issuing polyphonic layer upon polyphonic layer the album is meaty with atmosphere. These atmospheric depths are impregnable to worldly bodies, as not even this art’s exoskeleton cedes to the material world. Careening with finesse through unconventional dissonance, each song, and every riff, is weighed by its individual virtue as only an actor, as a working part of the whole. With riffs and chords far more advanced than any The Work Which Transforms God passage, Negura Bunget hinges this opus on subtlety; such that each individual riff defines the album’s true essence.

'n Crugu Bradului entertains a multifaceted sound that can only be defined, if at all, by nature’s timeless song. In this way the album fights any and every complexity in man’s perception, for nature operates as an entirety, and thus is simple. Like nature, 'n Crugu Bradului operates as a living world, a full-form(less) absolute. Each complexity heretofore is not liquidated in sacrifice to the whole, but respected as an operational part of it. In this way, 'n Crugu Bradului, with care, weaves every miniature complexity within itself, through itself—the all powerful operator, creator, mother, father, God. Every instrument is in the forefront and yet each instrument seems to be the backbone for each one of the multiple underlying layers as well. Yes, such structural choices or rather, perceptions of construction are contradictory to logic, but then again 'n Crugu Bradului defies all logic.

The backdrop to 'n Crugu Bradului continually provides for several different layers of timbre throughout—enough to make one’s mind perpetually multitask. While not a constant, the more obvious keyboards do their fare share of base and independent melodies, but a less obvious ambient presence accents both the album’s most predictable and least predictable moments in which to use that ambience. Even when punctuated by the waves of its multiple acoustic passages, 'n Crugu Bradului’s depth in polyphony subsists. However, with so many audible textures thrown in together, the unrefined listener may interpret them all as a combination of rogue and desultory sounds, when in fact they are one elegant mesh of sound. If one supposes that intent is important in an artistic endeavor (as one should) than Negura Bunget succeed, for they clearly show the poignancy of every chord, note, and sound on the album. Negura Bunget use precision and their music thus responds with an equal precision in sound, for the listener can hear that the artist’s process was painstaking; intent is lucid.

The dissonance used on 'n Crugu Bradului, as previously said, is highly unconventional. It fails to go by contemporary “experimental” Black Metal standards, not to mention most other Metal and non-Metal genres alike. Bands such as Blut Aus Nord and the other dissonance masters, have been referenced when describing 'n Crugu Bradului, but again, association is worthless. While Blut Aus Nord’s music shines brilliantly in its structure, competence, and musicianship, their use of dissonance and departure from convention fails to appeal to emotional depth the same way 'n Crugu Bradului does. In fact, most bands fail to realize this caliber of emotion—the inexplicable kind, the REAL kind—at all. Negura Bunget’s use of dissonance is so unique because of the way in which it exudes emotion. Most bands tend to disassociate themselves from emotion by using dissonance, or if that is not the case at least focus on one emotion or concept via dissonance. However, 'n Crugu Bradului is set apart from that mentality, for the emotion that they create through dissonance is not a singular one, not one of a duality or polarity, but an all encompassing one. Their dissonance, and in fact the entire album, creates emotions that encapsulate every color, every mood, every age, the ancient and the new, the intellectual and the primitive, the pure and the unpolished—the true. For what is musicianship without the cognizance of emotion?

Just like each filamentous note and each lonely chord, this album makes one feel infinitesimal. However, unlike these chords and notes, the individual listener is not part of this whole, just an onlooker, just a lonely passer by. The notes are nurtured by their master’s life-force, but I, the visitor, am left with nothing but a vision, a feeling, and a memory; a memory fathered by a father’s father. This world is such a full ecstasy of greens, black, and browns that the colors immerse themselves inside me. I cannot immerse myself in these colors. I cannot dive into their lushness. 'n Crugu Bradului allows none to trespass into its earthy kingdom; my status of “visitor” shall be eternally cemented—I am forbidden to pass beyond this title’s threshold—just as with any and all that stumble towards the kingdom. One after the other, breaths like steam rise from my mouth agape, as I trudge in a light fog. I traverse a barren stretch, while cradled by my brother dissonance and my sisterly strummed strings—I walk in awe. My feet squeak in movement across dew-sustaining grasses—where the sounds once were, now there are imprints. In the distance giant pillars of stone line the horizon in a sporadic array—a monument to the gray heavens. Primitive tensions well up in me, unprovoked by violence, but instead influenced by the beauty of “Once upon a time…” Yet, now I am filled with a growing sense of the violence to come—a growing sense of fear—but the comfort of the present fills me with life and nature. I am man, guide me father. I am man.