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Negura Bunget - Om CD (album) cover


Negura Bunget


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.18 | 190 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Since last year (2017 as of this writing), I have been enjoying catching up on a lot of the extreme metal that I missed out on after basically leaving the extreme metal scene back in the early nineties. Two years ago, I had no interest in black metal; however, in the last 16 months or so, I have been checking out classic old school albums and becoming familiar mostly with the Norwegian scene of the nineties. Though this I have garnered a pretty decent understanding of how things were sounding at that time. To help me on further into the dark atmospheric realms of black metal, I recently consulted several lists of top 10, 25, 50 and 100 black metal albums of all time in an effort to find which albums were the most frequently included. One such album was "Om" by Negura Bunget.

I'll admit that the album cover intrigued me ? a curious and distorted human form that, as it turns out, is just exposed grass below a melted and dirty spring snow cover. Having never heard of the band, I looked them up on Wikipedia and as well read a review of the album. When I learned that they were a Romanian band that utilized Romanian folk music and symphonic elements in their music, I knew I had to order this album right away! How curious I was to hear it.

What I have to say now in favour of this album are two things. The first is that I am in no way disappointed with the music on this release. While black metal remains the constant core, there are frequent surprises such as ominously dark-sounding brass parts as well as a string orchestra, and there are also moments of those Romanian folk instruments, most notably the hand percussion instruments. Add to that some cathedral chanting of "Om" in ominous tones, some guitar-less symphonic sections, and some post rock/metal parts and you get an album that plays more like a musical journey than a simple collection of songs.

I'm finding that I really love albums that have a basic sound that I enjoy but then reveals surprises that contrast with the extreme metal music or complement it. With the awesome over-distorted but well-controlled guitars, the clean and almost pretty moments, and all the extra instrumentation, and you've got an album that keeps turning you head.

Now, a lot of the old school black metal albums have intentionally lo-fi quality recording. As it was, I bought Marduk's "Opus Nocturne" and put it on the playlist right after "Om". Listening to "Om" was just how I love to listen to music. The sound was beautifully rich and clear. I could see myself drifting through a dim and dense but clear atmosphere of guitar distortion and gravelly vocals while various instruments and sounds passed by me in solid, 3D form or flashes of light. But when "Opus Nocturne" came on, I suddenly felt like I was standing in a shallow stream of cold water up to my ankles. In contrast, "Opus Nocturne" sounded just like a young band in the scene of the time putting out an extreme album with shoddy production (or mastering) while "Om" was like someone with a good studio budget had taken time to craft an album that was a work of art.

The version I bought is a double-disc digipak that has another, more recently recorded album on the second disc. It's a beautiful package with great design and artwork. I'm curious to hear more from this band, though most sadly the one member holding the band together passed away a few years back and the band subsequently dissolved. "Om" is a fantastic album and it's easy to understand why it makes a few of those all-time best black metal lists.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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