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BUCIUM

Prog Folk • Romania


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Bucium biography
BUCIUM is a progressive folk rock band from Bucharest, Romania. Their music is an updated, 21st century folk rock. Based on heavy metal of the '80s and '90s, the music has a strong foundation of heavy guitar riffs and powerful drumming (occasionally going up to blast beats), with an energetic phrasing that reminds of power/symphonic metal. The songwriting brings balance and variation, providing progressive character: light follows heavy, thematic development follows explosion via instrumental interplay. The main interest resides in the perpetual lead exchanges between riffs and a hauntingly beautiful violin, accompanied by grave, majestic vocal harmonies.

The ethnic musical motifs employed reference both Celtic music (ancient and modern) and Balkan musical heritage. However the epic-oriented songwriting subdues the ethnic imprint to a musical and lyrical storytelling rather than just jamming based on them, like in World Fusion music. The band's ambition of evoking and recreating half-historical, half-mythical moments from Romanian history is, so far, a successful one.

After forming in 2000, the band has been through a long process of maturation, which was completed with the release of the debut album "Voievozii" in 2008. Mainstream acknowledgement has come in the form of concert offers, of which opening gigs for APOCALYPTICA, TIAMAT, LACRIMOSA, ELUVITIE, FINTROLL and recently BOB DYLAN are worth mentioning. Currently the band is working for the completion of a new album, "Miorita", the musical transposition of an ancient Romanian epic poem (estimated release date: autumn of 2010).

Fans of BUCIUM should also check out PHOENIX (the classic folk-prog band), LA PURA REALIDAD (heavy prog band with lead violin and ethnic motifs) or TALITHA QUMI (modern, heavy psychedelic folk).

Bio by Alex (harmonium.ro)

Bucium official website

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3.43 | 7 ratings
Voievozii
2008

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BUCIUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Voievozii by BUCIUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.43 | 7 ratings

BUY
Voievozii
Bucium Prog Folk

Review by ScorchedFirth

3 stars (7/10)

Progressive Folk Metal. That is what genuinely we have here. Finally released in 2008 after a lot of difficulties in bringing the project to fruition, "Voievozii" is Bucium's debut (demos discounted) release. Hailing from Romania, and bearing the name of a traditional folk instrument from their homeland, Bucium deliver an album that can actually be said to be all 3 of these things.

The violin is the instrument that mainly takes the lead, and will provide the most interesting embellishments to the music, and is mostly responsible for the folky feel. The guitar strikes a modern metal tone, often a little thrashy, and gives the album it's metallic feel. How the songs are written is what makes this prog, in that it ticks all the key boxes in terms of composition and execution.

Vocals are powerful deep booming Romanian, very much in line with your typical folk metal singer, and as such are appropriate for the music. Able to lead in a dramatic or gruff manner when called for, but also able to just shout along to a catchy melody in a more light-hearted way. Some "choruses" have the air of a pub/crowd singalong, and are just a shouted wordless tune. Rather fun, I must say, there is a cheery, bouncy folkiness to these parts.

The whole album has a good supply of melody, odd time sigs, and folky instruments (eg violin), and can move from joyful and jiggy to epic without too much effort. In fact, some of the moments, melodies, and riffs occasional call to mind some of the classic prog bands. The sometimes frantic, sometimes more subtle violin, the frequent shifts of tempo, the energetic vocals all hold your attention reasonably well. Probably the last track, the 15 minute epic "Rovine", about a historic Romanian battle (seems appropriate when you hear the music) will hold the most interest for prog fans. It has probably both the most subtle moments of the album, and the most epic.

So, for anyone curious about how progressive folk metal would sound, this is a good choice. True, the music can sometimes lean more heavily in one direction or another at different moments, but I would still call this a genuine fusion. 3 stars, but if you like folk metal, give it another star and definitely seek it out.

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 Voievozii by BUCIUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.43 | 7 ratings

BUY
Voievozii
Bucium Prog Folk

Review by FolkDragon

4 stars As a fan of both folk metal and progressive rock, Bucium were a fantastic discovery for me. Pity they only have one album - although there is other work by them out there, this is all that's readily available. However, they manage to accomplish more in this one album than many bands do in a career. Dense, moody and instrumentally interesting for essentially the entire duration, "Voievozii" has fast become one of my favourite albums.

The first track, "Voievozii" sets high expectations for the rest of the album. Personally, I think the vibe set in this track is quite well carried throughout. It opens with ambient noise and the vocalist monologuing in an evocative soundscape that gives the distinct impression of a shaman over his fire. Soon, however, the music really takes flight, reminiscent both of the opening music of an epic film and of a pub folk-rock band, but maintaining the deep, strong sound that I would consider the hallmark of this band. This is one of the tracks I would consider truly excellent.

"Basarabii" follows up perfectly, folk and rock elements working together to produce music that just rolls into your ears. The chorus is definitive and punchy, but not 'catchy'. Its instrumental sections, which are among my favourites of the tracks on this album, deviate significantly without seeming at all out of place. Strong and lively, it's definitely a track to cheer up to without being in any way obnoxiously 'cheery'.

"Sorbul Apelor" is a solid effort with a lot of punch to it. The main pleasure of listening to it comes from the flow of the pace from slow to fast, up to the point of frenzy and back again into solemnity. Not as good as the previous two tracks, but maintains the all-important and distinctive mood of the album, which despite its many fantastic tracks I would maintain is its major selling point.

The fourth song, "Razboieni", is one of my favourites. The intro is strong and dark without being gloomy. This leads into a deep, moody song where voluptuous (although occasionally frenzied, frankly pace-improving) violin combines with coppery guitar to bring a dank, dripping but not melancholy mood that might be compared, for the more synesthetic, to strong, unadulturated coffee. Certainly one I would show to friends in an attempt to showcase the general vibe of the band.

"Maria", despite not having any major flaws, seems to me to be a lot less striking than the other songs on this album. Perhaps it's that the singer brings less of the mood of his strong, characteristic bass, or that the pace differences that liven up the other songs aren't so present. Perhaps it's just too short and chorus-dominated for me! Nonetheless, it's a good track - punchy and decided. Were I to rank the tracks on this album, i'm still not sure if it would sit just above or below the next track, "Morgana", which is much lighter in feel than any of the tracks so far. Despite not starting off on what I would consider a strong foot compared to the others, it manages to turn into an interesting instrumental romp around the a third of the way in with rollicking vocals throughout.

"Zalmoxe", unlike the previous two, really shows off the earthy, rolling tone of the vocalist. Instrumentally, it is less interesting, but the flowing violins and slow-tap drums are definitely a pleasant listen, and it has its place in the album. The gentle rise as the song moves forward is a really nice bit of progression and is really, I think, the whole point of this track. It's rather overshadowed by "Rovine", the final track, where we return to more ambient, non- instrumental noises as the intro. Being almost ten minutes longer than anything else on the album, it's a bit of a mini-epic, and really changes throughout. For the first third it's bombastic, spirited and to be honest a little hectic. It's evident that this is about a battle ((the 1395 Battle of Rovine) just from the sound. On my first listen, I was about to dismiss this track as too fast and noisy, leaning rather too heavily towards the 'metal' side of 'progressive folk metal' to fit the album, but the entire middle of the song turns out to be occupied by rollicking, involved and interesting instrumentation, morphing back towards the original sweeping bombasticism towards the end and ending the album on a note I would go so far as to call 'triumphant'.

In short, this gets a 4 not because although i'm aware that many don't find the mix of folk, prog and metal to be to their taste, I think this is worth a listen as a piece of music no matter what you're usually into. The distinctiveness of the mood and how it's carried over many variable and interesting instrumental dalliances make it, in my opinion, a significant acheivment.

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 Voievozii by BUCIUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.43 | 7 ratings

BUY
Voievozii
Bucium Prog Folk

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 realy

Bucium is one of the most intristing bands that emerged in my country in last decade, releasing one album since now named Voievozii in 2008 is a great well crafted, well made album in romanian scene. Combineing progressive metal with folk metal and tradintional arrangements from my lad the result is indeed as previous reviewer said a really really good stuff. The album was remix in Switzerland and has a good sound overall, better then on most romanian bands from metal a zone. They also use a lot of violins in their sound, that give them a special status in this field, sometimes they remind me of Phoenix, a more metalized one. The spirit of romanian lands, history from my country are subjects to this album well made lyricaly. The voice fits perfectly with the music , from archaic elements with folk metal atiude to a more baladesque arrangements like on Maria. A very good album towards great, the instrumental passages are excellent using violins in the overall folk metal sound was a true blast for Bucium. 3.5 stars for sure. All pieces are great not a weak moment here.

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 Voievozii by BUCIUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.43 | 7 ratings

BUY
Voievozii
Bucium Prog Folk

Review by Lizzy

4 stars

Bucium's debut album, Voievozii, finally saw the light of day some eight odd years after the band's formation in 2000. But by golly, was that worth the wait. The concept upon which it was built takes us back to a period shrouded in legend about Wallachia's and, to a certain extent, Moldavia's mediaeval rulers known as voivods; a period where Christian beliefs would intertwine with the ancient Dacian philosophies.

The album per se is characterised by sudden tempo changes from metal influences residing in the heavy guitar riffs, but mostly in the alert and powerful drumming, to gentle guitar playing and elegant violins inspired by Romanian folklore, all accompanying the solemn, yet absolutely splendid male vocals, courtesy of Andi Dumitrescu. But do not fear, despite having one of the three main sets of instruments - violins, drums and guitars (the bass is barely perceptible as it mostly follows the guitar riffs) - subdued by the other two at different phases throught the album, chaotic it is not! Every single change of pace is perfectly justified as it relies on the twists and turns that dwell in the stories recounted in each of the eight tracks. For instance, Maria Doamna (Raresoaia), an ode dedicated to the mother of one of Moldova's dearest voivods, has barely perceptible tempo changes, since it intends to be delicate, feminine and reverent, as can be heard in the beautiful and catchy chorus. Another 'slow' track is Zamolxe (the supreme deity of the Dacians) which features light folky electric guitar and soft violin generating an almost abstentious atmosphere fit for a ceremony, which ends with cheerful, yet tasteful vocals.

The highlight of the album, is most definitely Rovine - a gorgeous 15 + minute epic about the mythical 14th century battle of the Wallachian army led by Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Elder) against sultan Bayezid's I Ottoman Turks, where, although heavily outnumbered and with severe casualties, the Wallachians managed to claim victory. The track debuts with clamour from a distant battlefield and sounds of galloping horses which slowly get lost in the cluster of instruments led by the violins which gradually becomes and more alert, the lead being taken by the heavy guitars and drumming. The lyrics at first person plural - which at first sound pessimistic, the Wallachians awaiting to perish druing the night time, turn into victorius chants, but still hardly believing the outcome; the instrumental part which is slowly building up with gentle guitar and violion, gets heavier and heavier as the battle follows its course and increases in intensity, at this time the violins on one hand, and the guitar, bass and drums on the other, have entwined to create an almost utopian battle soundscape. With each acceleration of pace, one can imagine the Wallachian army pulling itself together under the ever so close supervision of its commander, Mircea, and charging forth to finally defeat the Ottomans.

All in all, a superb first effort from this Romanian band that I think, passed the 'promising' stage. Keep up the good work, guys!

4 stars! - to my ears anyways.

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Thanks to harmonium.ro for the artist addition.

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