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While I consider myself over-versed in metal music, I’ve come to find that there are multitudinous genres and genre-morphs that are yet channeled by me. It’s with great excitement and expectation that I seek out these bands to review so as to broaden my personal horizon just a wee larger than my preferred comfort zone. While I know of many folk/prog bands my personal knowledge of many of them is limited to say the least.
Negura Bunget needs little introduction to its fan base; the rampant love for this band seems overwhelming, and deservedly so. This is my first introduction to the band, so I’ll begin with my first impressions. I immediately hear folk elements that border on something you might hear in the introspective moments of the Karate Kid movies, which is by no means a knock! The calm serenity of that type of music is meant to set up something well-deep, be it a vision, an epic battle, an inconceivable loss or a moment of extreme clarity and decision.
What makes for a good score in a movie to set up its tension or plot is the same formula that heavy metal has been built on for years, save for the obvious movie comparisons. Metal has always been a very “rounded” genre in that it tells the tale through lyrics or music, has a moment (or ten) of sojourn and a dramatic finish (if done properly). It’s what sets our music apart from anything else - it finalizes itself accordingly. Negura Bunget has added yet another fine album to its stable, one of which I found and ingested over a weekend like wine and French fries.
What is fascinating and beautiful about Virstele Pamintului is its absolute mastery of such incredible imagery it manages to help you create. When a band or artist can create pictures without MTV’s half-handed assistance and lift you to some other place so effortlessly and easily it’s a keeper. Virstele Pamintului is an album wrought with incredible beauty and musicianship that rarely repeats itself and dispenses folk metal at its absolute brilliance.
I cannot imagine not having been exposed to this music before, which leads me to believe that I’m slacking in my old age. While it’s one of the most versatile albums I’ve ever heard in the metal genre, its staying power long after you’ve ingested it speaks volumes. The album here houses so many devices, styles, tempos, emotions - it’s a cornucopia of music that is levels above anything I’ve experienced in quite some time. The folk elements are so perfectly-placed within the songs, creating the picturesque Romanian countryside too often relegated to tales of Vlad Dracul. There is majestic history and culture to be captured, and Vîrstele Pamîntului is the penultimate vehicle to do just that.
It is one hour of the best musical experience you might find in your recent acquisitions. From flutes to female ethereal vocals, through beautifully-master keyboards (finally!) to strong male vocal deliveries, this album has everything short of the kitchen sink. I’ll be spinning this one a lot more often, this I can guarantee.
An amazing band with a brilliant album and equally amazing visages to ponder is what you’ll find here.
(Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com)