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Negura Bunget - Virstele Pamintului CD (album) cover


Negura Bunget

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Virstele Pamintului is the 5th full-length studio album by Romanian experimental/ progressive black metal act Negura Bunget. It´s the first studio album since the split up where the two of the three founding members of the band, Hupogrammos and Sol´Faur, left Negura Bunget to form Dordeduh, leaving Negru as the only founding member left in the band. Negru opted to continue with the Negura Bunget name and has added no less than five new musicians to the lineup making Negura Bunget almost a completely new band. Virstele Pamintului is the last release out of a three album record deal Negura Bunget signed with leading Italian experimental extreme metal label Code666. The album is released in a regular CD version but also in a special limited version which bears this description: "The special limited version comes in a handmade woodbox, roped and filled with the very earth of the place it comes from". The latter falls in the catagory of rather bizarre collector´s items if you ask me, but it would be pretty great to show to the friends.

Almost simoultaniously with the release of Virstele Pamintului, Negura Bunget also released Maiestrit (2010) which is a re-recording of the 2000 Maiastru Sfetnic album with some added tracks. Maiestrit was recorded with the original trio lineup of Hupogrammos, Negru and Sol´Faur before they split.

The music on Virstele Pamintului is a mix of dark ambient ethnic music and experimental and for the most part quite melodic black metal. The former style is very dominant on parts of the album which is best examplified by the fact that you won´t hear distorted guitars or extreme vocals before about 15 minutes into the album. Negura Bunget include lots of traditional Romanian folk intruments in the music, but also more regular instrumentation like guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. The vocals are a mix of various clean kinds of vocals/ talking and raspy black metal ones. The music is very dark and atmospheric and the dark ambient element makes me think of Ulver at times but also a band like Dead Can Dance comes to mind.

The production is professional and suits the music well.

After having released what many consider one of the most important experimental black metal albums in Om (2006), Virstele Pamintului does come as a bit of a disappointment IMO. There are many excellent ideas and parts on the album but overall there are too much dark ambient ethnic music and not enough metal for my taste and a 3.5 star rating is warranted. It´s an interesting mix but not without flaws. Virstele Pamintului is recommended to those who enjoy the more experimental side of black metal with an ethnic ambient touch.

Report this review (#273142)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The organic and inorganic are here intertwined to an extent hitherto unseen in the atmospheric black metal genre. As the previous reviewer noted, these compositions exhibit an ethnic, folk foundation. I would argue that this is black metal with the structure of folk music; black metal is the canvas upon which rich, ethnic oil paint is slathered. This is by far the most "progressive," multifaceted, and unconventional black metal album I've encountered.

This is likely to polarize opinion and, as such, draw an undeservedly mediocre rating. Fans of "Om" will either love this album for pushing the boundaries, or be disappointed that it lacks much of the melodic black metal core of the previous work. This promises to be one of the darkest albums of 2010, at any rate.

Report this review (#273609)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Virstele Pamintului' - Negura Bunget (8/10)

2006 saw the Romanian black metal band Negura Bunget make their crowning achievement and major contribution to the metal world; the epic 'Om'. Although I cannot (yet) bring myself to call it the everlasting masterpiece that so many fans claim it to be, it is undeniable how much it stirred black metal; no longer was the scene in the hands of the Scandinavians. After the classic Negura Bunget split with some previous members forming Dordeduh, the more recent incarnation of the band came together to release two new albums. One of these was a redux of their second album, and this- the more successful of the two- was of entirely new material. 'Virstele Pamintului' is not quite as cohesive as 'Om' was, but the grand focus on ethnic instrumentation here makes me enjoy the album just as much. With such a folkish influence in the sound, Negura Bunget brings an added dimension to the realm of black metal.

The sound of folk music is nothing new to metal, but there are few bands out there that do the sound as well as Negura Bunget. To be quite honest, far too many of the bands that label themselves as 'folk metal' use the folk sound as a gimmick and nothing more, but Negura Bunget takes these ethnic instruments and makes them a central part of their sound. Of course, the main focus is still on the black metal elements, but there is still enough of an Eastern European flair and atmosphere to make it all sound convincing. As I have said, the songs here do not flow amongst each other as well as 'Om' did, but taken song by song, 'Virstele Pamintului' is a real winner; there is a greater focus on melodies and highlighting the folkish influences of Negura Bunget on this album, and both traits tend to make it a more enjoyable experience.

Things often sound like Opeth here, but without the same sense of repetition, or contrived heavy-to-light contrasts that Opeth builds themselves around. The music Negura Bunget makes here flows very naturally, and like all music I have heard from this band, it takes several listens for the music to really sink in. Some of the synth sounds that the band employs are a little tinny, but for the most part, things are produced excellently, and the pastoral, spiritual vibe of a Romanian village gets through in the sound here. The vocals- much like the music- alternate between abrasive rasps and cleaner tones, and the clean vocals are the more enjoyable of the two. The harsh vocals here are not bad, and even fairly diverse for a black metal album, but simply never truly standout enough to really grab my attention. The clean vocals on the other hand do a much better job of capturing the nuances of the Romanian language, which consequently helps to give an even more atmospheric experience.

A very good album that really exceeded my expectations. I was looking forward to a fairly good album here, but with a slightly less-than-impressive track record with the band in the past, I was not anticipating listening to this like a regular fan of the band. However, while its clear that I may be coming to the Negura Bunget fanhood a little latter than I should have, 'Virstele Pamintului' has corrected me; maybe it is time to revisit 'Om' after all.

Report this review (#502388)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Negura Bunget's 'Varstele Pamantului' is one of those rare albums which comes along from time to time which makes you completely re-think your perceptions of a particular musical genre. Whilst classified as extreme metal there is so much more to this album than violent guitars and pummelling drums. This is an album which transcendences any one genre of music and becomes something really unique and inspired.

Describing the music here is difficult - there are definitely plenty of extreme metal moments, make no mistake about that, and those sections are utterly glorious and crushing. But I wouldn't call metal the defining style of the album. What really dominates this record is the tribal, almost Neanderthal instrumental moments, demonstrated perfectly on the album opener 'Pamint' and carried on through the rest of the album. There is European folk, gypsy music, tribal drumming, Scandinavian black metal, modern post metal... A real fusing of styles.

The music here is raw, ethereal and deeply atmospheric - images of camp fires, foreboding woods and pagan rituals swirl around my mind as I listen to the music. The production is primitive, but I sense this is a stylistic choice rather than due to financial reasons. The music on this record wouldn't sound right with polished drums and crisp guitar lines - the muddiness of the production is all part of the listening experience.

This is an album which needs to be heard - but it needs an open mind and enough time to sink in. When I first heard this I didn't really "get it" - I needed half a dozen listens. I am thoroughly glad that I gave this record the time it needed, and I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys heavier progressive music. This has since become a treasured record in my collection. For its uniqueness and musical creativity I can't give this anything other than 5-stars.

Report this review (#1442418)
Posted Saturday, July 18, 2015 | Review Permalink

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