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Folkstorm over Carpathia - 85%

we hope you die, April 2nd, 2019

Negura Bunget (Romanian for ‘line-up change’) formed back in 1995 as a duo. They developed a fluid, grim, and epic take on black metal with their first clutch of releases. While keyboards were used sparingly, the guitars being the chief guide for the music, this still oozed a cold, open atmosphere that calls to mind the vast forests of their homeland. ‘Om’ (2006) is seen by many to be their watershed release. And with good reason. It sees them marry their slow, meandering black metal with more use of keyboards, additional percussion, and even slower builds and falls than their previous works.

The thing to note about the music of Negura Bunget, is that it reeeeeally takes its time. This is very slow for black metal. But the drums are nevertheless busy, working their way through fills and builds to complement the guitars as they develop and contrast riffs. Vocals vary from a mid-range black metal growl to clean singing and chanting. The album is designed to favour these waves of atmosphere produced by the guitars and keyboards above all else. The drums are sharp and crisp by comparison, allowing for much needed rhythmic clarity beneath the reverb laden guitars. The music tends to lumber from one key or mood to the next, and in musical terms each transition can take an age to unfold. Clear and busy drums offset some of this by grounding the music in something more tangible. Dark, cold, atmospheric, but with a uniquely Eastern European character to it.

The tracks themselves are shorter than earlier releases, but they are all interconnected, making the album feel like one long, extended piece. The music is written with two guitars in mind, as they work their way through complementary riffs that are intertwined. This leaves the keyboards to add texture and atmosphere, but they do play a more lead role than on previous releases. All this makes for an album rich in musical ideas and creativity, with a unified theme and mood tying the whole thing together. Highly recommended.

Eastern European metal is a vast world to explore, and it has many treasures to offer. But this album makes for a great starting point. After the release of ‘Om’, Negura Bunget were dogged by internal disputes, eventually splitting completely, with other members forming Dordeduh, well worth looking into. Drummer Negru continuing with a different line up, released ‘Varstele Pamantului’ in 2010, and although it was a solid release his vision of a revolving line up policy to explore different musical traditions never came to fruition owing to his untimely death. If there was any steam left in this project, we’ll never know.

Originally published at Hate Meditations