without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I don't get it.
I guess that's how I could describe, in four words, how I feel about OM and really this band as a whole, after several abandoned-partway-through attempts to get into them. In this case, "I don't get it" doesn't mean I'm just scratching my head in confusion at the forward-thinking modern art put in front of me, uninformed and unenlightened at the marvels presented in front of me, though; no pearls have been cast before a swine here, and that's sort of the issue. I get what Negura Bunget are trying to do with their music and this huge, conceptual piece and I understand why it has been lauded the way it has, and because of that I also understand exactly what they did to fuck it up and why it sucks a mean one. What I don't get is how they managed to do it so horribly when everything else seemed right in place! This must be what normal people feel like when they listen to Agalloch.
This really is just a fucking huge monster of an album. The track divisions seem completely irrelevant at times, because this is clearly meant to be listened to as one big piece; songs tend to neglect introducing or concluding themselves and instead blend into the greater fabric of the album. This is a daring move on the part of any artist; in a way, it completely alters the format of an album itself for the listener, as instead of listening to it as a collection of individual songs one instead solely remembers the moments; the slow disassembling and reassembling of the music and the energy within, the climaxes, the explosions of riffs...much more difficult to pull off, and it's definitely a music fan's sort of album but the result is much, much more worth it in the end. The difficulty is increased tenfold when doing it under the guise of one of the most musically minimal genres in metal, folk black. Pagan black metal was always more of a genre that works better when the core ideas of the genre are refined; because the music is so minimal the riffs have to be the driving force of the song. As a result you'd think that prog folk metal would be an abomination, but hey; Tyr's pretty cool and Enslaved actually have some worthwhile material in their later career so it's obviously possible. There is, however, one key difference between those two bands and Negura Bunget. For all of Enslaved and Tyr's experimental dabbles, unconventional structuring and meandering diversions, there was never any point in time while listening to them that I wasn't 100% sure I was listening to metal. With OM, that feeling crept up on me several times. I mean, it takes what seems like forever before any actual metal even kicks in and several-minutes-long orchestral ambient sections are often jammed in between bundles of riffs, interjecting before you ever have a chance to start enjoying the metal. It's not that they're different, it's not that they're long, it's not that they're a major element of the music (if anything, I'm actually kind of happy someone chose to nurture that side of the music more- in theory, anyways), it's that more often than not they DON'T DO ANYTHING. Sometimes it's because they're nothing but ominous chords drenched in reverb, sometimes it's just because the melodies are way too simple and boring but the frequent exploration and bridge-building this band does kills all and any momentum. It is wayyyy too easy for one's mind to wander away and lose interest due to the length and sparsity, and it's supposed to be this slow, gradual buildup into powerful, surging riffs, but Negura Bunget missed the mark and when the "big moments" do hit, they're extremely cheapened because there is no tension built in the song. How they'll build it up makes no sense at all, either; they don't really build into it, they'll start off with a simple ambient passage, add bit by bit to it to make it bigger, but there's rarely an actual transition into the massive metal sections; they simply appear in fits and starts- the structuring is fine, but nothing ties together the way it should. It's either that or the music is put together too well, which is not as far off from being sloppily put together as you may think. Sometimes the music doesn't stop adding on to itself. It builds and builds, even as the metal riffs pass through you spend the entirety of the time listening to the music waiting for THAT riff, the one that makes it all make sense but it never comes. The intensity of the music waxes and wanes, peaks up and down but never takes you along for the ride. It's a caveat of the conceptual nature the album takes. I can only imagine what the reactions of the crowd must be like listening to this live; does everybody just kind of stand around inspecting the ceiling during the ambient parts, wondering whether or not they're playing the song or just having technical difficulties? Nobody would be able to tell until the guitars came back in.
To me it seems like people are so initially fascinated with the approach and overarching concept and how "adventurous" and "epic" it is that the actual music within the concept becomes secondary to the enjoyment of the album; yes, the path they took certainly is an interesting approach to an album, but really, the best thing I can say about the metal riffs is that...well, they're genuine, I guess. They are black metal riffs. These guys listen to black metal and have done well at creating riffs authentic to the genre. The folk metal influence that dots the riffs and sometimes takes center stage is better done than most, too, I'll give them that; they do their best to shy away from the horribly cliched tropes that often kill that genre and the more pagan-black oriented parts are the most enjoyable on the album for that reason. Still, though...nothing memorable in the slightest to be found among any of them. Maybe it's partially because these guys are Romanian, and as there isn't much of a defined scene there the same way there is in Sweden or Norway or Germany they don't really have much in the way of their own sort of style; the only thing truly unique about this music is the way they present it, and while it could be argued that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts the parts themselves are completely barebones and dull. Heaviness is actually one of this band's greatest enemies; the more I listen to this the more I wish they just dropped all pretenses of being metal because any attempt this band makes to sound abrasive and crushing just rolls off your back, hilariously weak. "Dedsuptul" is a great example of this. Dear lord, I've never found myself so unamusedly repulsed and bored by metal riffs. The parts more rich in higher-register melody and uplifting atmosphere are much more tolerable, but they fail to invoke any sort of feeling in me regardless. Even the inherent metallic nature there feels like a drawback. Shit's been done before, of much higher quality and by better bands both metal and non-metal.
Nothing ties together and counts for anything, so the more adventurous forays of the music (example: the "tribal war call" thing going on at the beginning of Inaborat) seem cheap and tacky. There's potential here; perhaps the most potential I've ever seen out of a metal album, but ultimately it's one of those concept albums that doesn't fill the shoes of the concept. Negura Bunget are a band heavily immersed in Romanian folklore and the natural and spiritual world, so perhaps it's fitting to end with a metaphor demonstrating that. OM intends to paint a soundscape; a crystalline capturing of the images of vast Romanian landscapes and forests in the artists' head, synthesized into a huge, symbolic piece. Though OM is not an album structured around the track divisions, the album is very much a series of half-painted landscapes; clearly all a part of the same region, but never seeming connected in that sense. Nature is not but a series of flashes of instant beauty; nature represents new life created through the old, and should be marveled at not for the picturesque scenes it displays but simply for how massive and singular it is, and for the work put behind it that it took to make it grow from nothing. What I'm trying to say with this pretentious shit is that this is the type of music that should intrinsically be organic, and this sounds anything but that to my ears. Negura Bunget wrote a masterpiece with OM, they just need to fill it with melodies that make me feel something.
Widely considered to be the holy grail of Romanian black metal, Negura Bunget's 'Om' has a reputation that precedes it. Although widely unknown to those outside of black metal circles, the band's brand of 'spiritual metal' leaves an impression, and I would go on record saying that this is the best album the band ever made. Although somewhat more challenging to appreciate than much of the atmospheric black metal out there, Negura Bunget's 'Om' does reveal its grandeur over time, and while still not amounting to the genre's crowning achievements, 'Om' delivers on all counts.
The band is sure to face some debate as to what particular style of music they play here is, but it can be held to reason that Negura Bunget do not ever stray far from the sound of black metal. As one might tend to expect then, the heavier aspect of this music is dominated by higher register growls, atmospheric guitar riffs, and the abrasive drum techniques that define the genre. Negura does this style with some great skill, always sounding professional and letting the dynamic ebb and flow naturally. What makes 'Om' an excellent album though is the fact that there is a wealth of changes in the sound here; there is more than black metal at work here. A listener would be hard-pressed to find a segment of heavy riffing and metallic darkness that lasts more than a few minutes without the more mellow and introspective side of the band coming into play. It is in fact the mellow, ambient side of Negura Bunget that I prefer, as they seem to paint a vaster sound with it.
Long sections of ambiance and mellow interlude tend to drag on for a while, but they do sound incredibly beautiful. Every now and then, some pleasant folk instrumentation will pop up, giving a more authentic feel, but much of the 'pretty' side of Negura Bunget is left up to a keyboard, which is commonly heard as well during the heavy moments of the album. The band plays their compositions very well, and are clever to make added nuances over the abrasive guitar textures. Whether its the quiet sound of a bell harmonizing with the melody or changing keyboard chord, Negura Bunget has left plenty of easter eggs to hunt for on this dark, spiritual journey.
Negura Bunget have found an excellent album here with 'Om', although it does feel a little longer than it should have been. Nonetheless, a wholeheartedly recommended album for the more atmospheric and introspective side of black metal.
Does the world exist the way we perceive it or do we simplify things for the sake of our sanity. When two people communicate, be it with words or music, they do not use a shared language, but interpret what the other says according to their particular syntax. So the question of what the other person means can only be addressed by using our own system and style of interpretation. A piece of music can be interpreted in many ways. Each listener has his or her own point of reference from which to begin contemplation. Perception changes with each listen. There are many valid perspectives. Everyone’s experiences of reality are real and each is colored by previous experience. Om is a gestalt, something like a pattern that holds together as a whole, that makes a kind of unified sense, more than just the parts of experience. The parts are more than the whole because the parts add layers upon layers of understanding. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. This album has so many moods and textures swirling around that combine in amazing ways to lead you on your journey that it is difficult to absorb the atmosphere on first listen. The more you listen the more you hear, the more you hear the more you want to listen. Each note, each scream or roar, the majestic horns, the oppressively harsh guitars, or the ornate drumming, all adds to the impact that is Om.
Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer Arne Naess described the journey to spiritual enlightenment and a greater understanding of your personal oneness with nature, which he called Ecosophy. He referred to rethinking with closer attention, going deeper. There is shallow thinking and there is deep thinking. Shallow is superficial, deep is reconstructing your worldview. Deep thinking is long range. The nature-based spirituality of Negura Bunget is deep thinking. In terms of black metal, shallow would be Christian Satanism, deeper would be occult, then paganism, and truly deep thinking would be the spiritual transcendence of the dense fog of the forest of the high mountains of Romania. Black metal is more than a musical style, it is a worldview. Some bands are still wading in the shallow end of the pool some 30 years later, while others are treading water while learning to swim. A pioneering few are diving in the deep end.
Based upon the last album, Om was the most highly anticipated release of the year for me. I had very high expectations for this disc, which is usually a recipe for disappointment. Inarborat Kosmos did more than whet my appetite, it reaffirmed my expectations were legitimate. If you do not think this is the album of the year cut your flesh and worship Satan until you realize the truth. Om is a true equivalent.
Originally written for http://teethofthedivine.com
What dark splendor! “Om” is one of those incredibly thought provoking and atmospherically brilliant albums that can continually captivate the mind on every listen.
So how to describe the atmosphere? It is certainly dark, but very spiritual and often melancholy, though sometimes brutal. It is very diverse, but I believe the most appropriate description would be something along the lines of the world’s creation or universal flow. The variety of folk instruments further stabilize this rather incredible feeling present throughout most of the album. It is of course, brought out by the keyboards and guitarwork, and perfected by the oddly crisp and unique production job.
The riffs are numerous and amazing, being memorable and provoking tons of emotion, all with a completely unique guitar tone. Keyboards are frequently used, but incredibly tastefully, evoking no sense of cheesiness whatsoever. These are accompanied by some very technical drumming and great vocals that show elements of black and death metal and often transcend to a very mysterious and melancholy clean singing style.
The album is best listened in one go as it is best absorbed this way. It really needs to sink in and fully surround you for the full sixty-seven minutes to have its strongest and most overwhelming effect, which is needless to say, incredible.
One band this album really reminds me of is Blut aus Nord, one of my all time favorites. Think Ultima Thulee or Fathers of the Icy Age. Those albums are really good examples of the type of stuff Negura Bunget does on “Om”. Dark, though-provoking, melodic, and beautiful, but often terrifying and aggressive at the same time.
“Om” is definitely one of the best black metal albums ever, and is essential for both fans and non-fans alike. If you can’t get into much black metal, try giving this a go, as it was one of the first black metal albums that I could appreciate back when I was first getting into metal. Check it out!
Where does one begin describing this? It is the most adventurous, epic album I have ever heard and is the pinnacle of aural perfection. This is more than just music, it is a spiritual adventure in sound. If you don't sit down with the whole thing and give it the attention it needs you might miss what makes this so special. I also believe that it takes a few listens to fully grasp. I'm still listening and discovering new things.
OM is based on the principle of five and also tells the tale of the first human in Transylvanian mythology. The lyrics are in Romanian so I cannot understand them and I do not really desire to find translations. Knowing the ideas behind this was enough for me. This is also quite a long album clocking in at 67 minutes.
The production here is top notch. Everything is equalized very well so it's clear and everything is mixed to let all the instruments have room. This is not over-compressed and you can actually hear the bass lines which are fantastic. All in all, very tasteful production of the highest quality.
The drumming is superb and uses a hefty amount of cymbals and toms. There is still quite a good bit of straightforward blasting on the snare and bass drums (great snare sound by the way). The guitar players complement each other very well and play winding riffs that morph and change frequently. The guitar tones themselves are excellent, very rough sounding and saturated enough to give texture but not so much so that they aren't clear.
There is not a single song on this album with verse/chorus structure either. All of the songs have very fluid pacing. There are frequent transitions both jarring and gradual. The band exhibits a mastery of building and releasing tension which adds a very epic and dramatic feel to the music. There's even ambient, keyboard driven sections and OM has the best synths I have ever heard -- they are truly beautiful.
A lot of Romanian folk instruments are used (of the wind and percussion variety). I'm not sure what they all are, but they sound great and the band actually plays them...they're not synths! There is a very strong jazz feel to many parts of this album, too. This along with the unconventional song structures, unique instruments, and ambient sections makes OM very progressive.
All in all, this album in perfect. A must have. Will there ever be anything to top this? Guess I'll have to wait for the next Negura Bunget album...
While the first track of ‘Om’ is a very stereotypical and unimpressive ambient black metal album intro, that is as far as the black metal clichés go on this album. From the moment the second track starts you know what you’re listening to is very special.
Complex, melodic and atmospheric are the best words to describe ‘Om’. While many black metal bands feel the need to create simple riffs and repeat them hundreds of times, the riffs here are all very complex and progressive. Negură Bunget manage to add progressive influences to their black metal sound without sounding at all gimmicky or cheesy. The two styles compliment each other perfectly, complex yet managing to retain a very hypnotic black metal atmosphere.
And atmosphere is something ‘Om’ has plenty of. The production is perfect, which is very impressive as the band did it all themselves. It gives a distant but not too quiet sound as if it was recorded in a giant cavern. The production stops it from getting past a certain heaviness so despite the complexity of the music it is still quite accessible for a non-black metal fan.
Keyboards back the guitars, but mostly stay in the background so never overpower the music, instead just adding to the atmosphere. Often the black metal stops for lengthy keyboard led ambient sections. Some of the shorter songs are completely ambient led by keyboards with just vocals or chimes over them.
Flutes, pipes and traditional Romanian instruments also appear occasionally and give a nice folky feel to the album, but again stay more in the background so they never sound cheesy like a lot of folk metal does. The section near the end of ‘Cunoaşterea Tăcută’ which has a flute playing a melody over an otherwise ordinary black metal base is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric moments of any black metal song I’ve ever heard.
‘Om’ isn’t repetitive like a lot of black metal either. Before a riff becomes even slightly boring, it will be changed for something else or the song will suddenly change direction completely. ‘Om’ is full of inventive twists and turns like this so you never know which direction a song will go in. At one moment it may be in the middle of a pure black metal section complete with blast beats and tremolo picked riffs, the next in an ambient section with an odd twisted guitar melody over it. Despite the constant changing, none of the songs here seem at all rushed.
The drumming plays a big part in allowing the abrupt changes in sound to run smoothly. Although there are some standard black metal blast beats in places the drumming is often just as inventive as the weird melodies, and is never at all boring. Sometimes the percussion becomes almost tribal, played on what sounds like bongos.
The vocals are also very good. While it’s mostly in a typical black metal style, it’s more varied than most. Sometimes the vocals change almost into a death metal growl and clean vocals are also often used. Occasional chants are also used in a way slightly similar to early Ulver or Agalloch. While I’m not sure exactly what’s being sung as it’s all in Romanian, from what I’ve gathered it avoids the cheesy Satanism and is mainly about nature, forests and other such Black Metal topics.
There’s not a lot to criticise here, but there is definitely some filler and parts do drag on slightly. However, the rest of the album is so great you probably won’t even notice.
Negurã Bunget's fourth and latest opus entitled "Om" is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is not simply music, but an epic and grand journey, a spiritual journey that is breathtaking. This recording should be listened to in full to truly enjoy it, it cannot just be sampled. Every second of this journey is as good as any before it, not one moment should be skipped.
Untainted by simplicity, it is packed with emotion, full of raw power, and amazing beauty. Variety is alive and well throughout and never does a dull moment rise. You won't find mindless brutality or a collage of the same riffage and percussion.
The guitar tone is low and heavy, creating that raw power. Excellent percussion is evident and has the largest variety. Every instrument flows with one another and is not overdone. They are played with skill and each one has a very important role.
Both clean and harsh vocal styles are strong and give a lot to the present emotion. All vocals are in their (Negurã Bunget's) native tongue and it shouldn't be any other way. The language really gives it a lot of beauty, emotion, and that strong power.
The atmosphere is like nothing else, painting a picture that is soaked in awe. It gives an impression that will keep you listening, keeping you eager to find out what lies next. Exciting you every single moment every instance that is Om.
Not a single track is less significant than another, all eleven tracks make up one piece of work, it is one, not a collection of tracks like so many other albums are.
Videos were made for the tracks "Cunoaºterea Tãcutã" and "Norilor" (possibly more, these are the only two to my knowledge (there was also a promo video for the album)) and they can give an idea on the theme throughout the album. Nature's relationship with spirituality is what really comes to my mind from the music and the videos, maybe even mankind's relationship with these as well.
Om is truly an amazing experience, an experience that is mind-blowing. This one soars above the rest, going where no other album has gone before. Negurã Bunget has created one of the greatest recordings my ears have ever witnessed. A 100% rating doesn't come close to how good this release is, words can never describe it how it truly should be described. It is something that has to be experienced.
It is with "struggling perception" that I write these words in the context of this latest Negură Bunget release - "OM" is a complex and layered piece of work and I feel reviewing it would serve an injustice. Music reviews tend to "trap" music by defining it, and I feel this conflicts with "OM" because it's a piece of work which I consider one of the most "vast" I have ever heard.
"OM" can not be approached from a typical Black Metal perspective. To do so would completely ridicule the amount of work that has gone into this new release and pigeonhole it.
This is not an "album": after listening to it countless times, watching the DVD which accompanies the music, accounting for the bands spirituality, combined with the complete visual presentation, I will say that "OM" is "a document", but I use this term as "vastly" as I can. Perhaps saying it's an "experience" is a better portrayal.
"OM" indirectly extends from the treat we got with the Inarborat Kosmos EP, but does so on a truly epic scale. One could almost say that Negură Bunget's entire existence has built up to this release: it combines their journey so far, but then leaps above to a new, almost unfathomable level.
This release is almost "sacred", it is highly conceptualised. Every note played or sung, every drum beat every growl or shriek and every ambient interlude seems to have a clear metaphysical and natural expressive purpose. The album seems to be written and performed in such a way that it is like air: everywhere, flowing through everything, almost physically touchable, having colour and yet having none.
Without being able to decipher the lyrics, I can only draw upon my feelings: this music is about cosmic life. It is about existence on a spiritually vast, yet physically small level. Our physically minute place in the universe, and the vast size of our metaphysical selves. This is what the music, using Black Metal (as a foundation only) speaks to me.
I say Black Metal is used as a foundation because this is where Negură Bunget's path has logically led to. Black Metal influences are still there as they were on "'N Crugu Bradului", but now the music has grown into something with more breath, and funnily enough, I think we first got hint of this higher maturity on "'N Crugu Bradului".
There are more sweeping (note, NOT melodic) elements to the music, we are treated to more ambient soundscapes, sounds of nature itself and excellent use of folk instruments as Negură Bunget have never shown us before. For those seeking the Negură Bunget Black Metal elements, fear not, they are still present, but now balanced with a majestic element to the music, a strikingly obvious and higher maturity delivered via exceptional musical execution.
"OM" can not just be listened to, it must be experienced via multiple senses: emotion, visual and aural in order to make complete sense. I found I came to this realisation more so when I had watched the DVD (more about this realisation in a moment).
The DVD component of "OM" (and I do consider it to be part of "OM" as much as the audio CD is) is jawdropping, the work that has gone into it is truly impressive: the band interview is fascinating and a must-see in order to gain more insight into the music. Every pixel of the artwork, every audible sound and spoken sentence has been paid attention, and despite some material on the DVD being pre-OM, it is VERY relevant to this release.
I highly suggest that people watch the DVD first, and THEN listen to "OM" itself. Because of the spiritual nature of this release, it is a necessity to comprehend and understand what their expression is about. It will make "OM" much more logical to take in.
It has been a long wait, but a wait that has been worth it like few albums have. This is not for the faint of heart, nor for the those seeking mindless aggression from their music.
"OM" is pure expression, done in ways that Metal has not seen the likes of before. In my opinion, it is a landmark release: Negură Bunget have finally achieved their higher level of expression. For what I believe in the first time of the history of Black Metal, taken us on a true journey of transcendence.
An outstanding piece of work.
Official Website http://www.negurabunget.com/
Webstore for purchase http://www.auralmusic.com/