Greetings and salutations! I am back from the winter solstice celebrations and anguish and I hope you all had a joyous time celebrating it in the manner of your choosing. I have managed to regain my will and vigour from my life long tradition of catching a vile cold virus and spending a week or two in my bed, expelling a shipping tanker full of mucus from my sinuses.
Soon I will publish my list of the best albums of 2012, as is required by everyone who call themselves a reviewer or critic. But for now, let’s listen to one of the biggest black metal bands to come from the home of Dracula. (I find it quite weird that not more big BM bands have not come from such an iconic place as Transylvania, to capitalize on the whole “home of the dark and vampire” thing…)
Negură Bunget is one of the biggest black metal bands to emerge from Transylvania, and a great one to boot. Great thick atmosphere, great melodies and top notch drumming. While their sound has evolved a bit from the “traditional” black metal formula, to a more “prog”-like aesthetic, they do not venture to far from the tried and true sound of their origin.
Negura Bunget’s Maiestrit is the bands re-imagining/re-recording of their earlier album, Măiastru Sfetnic, which is, according to the band themselves, “the purest black metal album we ever made”.
While I am not so ingrossed in the eastern european black metal scene as I would like, outside Drudkh, Thy Catafalque; Negură Bunget was probably my first indroduction to the eastern european BM scene. And I am glad I found them, since they showed me that there can be a good thematic structure, wonderous melodies and riffs with a thick atmosphere and almost prog-like aestetics, in “true”, “traditional” black metal, without sacrificing the “true black metal” label.
Măiastru Sfetnic sounds like the demo, or first rehersal of the album. The soundscape is much less dense and imposing and the drumwork is much more rough and unpolished. The vocals is almost drowned and lost within the unpolished sounds. The “whistling” part of În-zvîcnirea apusului, sounds quite out of place in Măiastru Sfetnic, while in Măiestrit it sound quite majestic and not as out of place.
The essencial atmosphere and feel of the original recording is still present in Măiestrit, just much more polished, refined and better realized. Măiestrit truly brings out the majesty of the albums atmosphere and greatness while still not sacrificing the “true” essence of black metal. And all you black metal snobs and traditionalists that cry “heresy” if a BM band has higher production quality than basement recording on a 4-track, can just stick to the original album, Măiastru Sfetnic. The folk influences can be heard in Măiestrit, but it isn’t really pronounced and doesn’t affects the sound much.
My biggest grief with Măiestrit is the heavy and almost constant soundmat, which could get tiering after a while. It’s not exactly a deal breaker and you don’t notice it too much. The album doesn’t give the feel of a dark and foggy Transylvanian forest, filled with dread and vampires. But then again, I have never been in a Transylvanian forest… It is the little extra additions to the songs that makes the album stand out from the legion of black metal albums, like the “whisteling” sound in În-zvîcnirea apusului and the unique sound aesthetics.
Măiestrit also features two acoustic versions of two of the songs, which are more calmer and low key, which are quite a nice cool down from the otherwise fast and heavy songs.
(I have no idea who came up with calling Negură Bunget “avant-garde”, the band is nowere near avant-garde metal, at most they are experimetal metal. The only thing “experimetal” with the band is their infulences, but it is hardly anything new.)
I. Vremea locului sortit
II. În-zvîcnirea apusului
III. A-vînt în abis
IIII. Al locului
VI. Plecăciunea morții
VII. A-vînt în abis (Acoustic Version)
VIII. Plecăciunea morții (Acoustic Version)