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|2.||Țesarul de Lumini|
|9.||Cel Din Urmă Vis|
|11.||Al Doilea Om|
Review for 'Negură Bunget - Om'
If you have paid any attention at all to the Black Metal scene in the last 6 years, you will have surely seen the name Negură Bunget mentioned a number of times. More often than not, they are mentioned in conjunction with their fourth full length album, Om. Since it's release in 2006, Om has practically guaranteed Negură Bunget a place in Black Metal's history books, not to mention that their previous albums had already gained them the upmost respect of the Black Metal community world-wide.
Negură Bunget are a Romanian Pagan / Ambient Black Metal band that formed in 1995, although in contrast to their Scandinavian counterparts who must deal with the local competition of countless bands in each country, Negură Bunget are practically the undisputed masters of their specific niche, Romanian Black Metal. This is either due to hardly anyone daring to challenge them, or due to Romania's dispersed metal scene with Black Metal bands being few and far between, with a substantial number of the most successful of these scattered bands actually being put in motion as side-projects or being given a helping hand by some of Negură Bunget's members themselves, such as Dordeduh, Marțolea, Argus Megere and Syn Ze Sase Tri.
Either way, Negură Bunget's Om doesn't need to be compared with the works of other Romanian Black Metal bands in order to come out on top, because the reality is that it can easily go up against many of the world's best Pagan Black Metal albums, regardless of their origin, and still come out victorious, simply because the music contained within Om is nothing short of perfect.
The album begins with "Ceasuri Rele", which translates to "Dark Hours", an excellent piece of ambient music spanning roughly three minutes in length that puts many classic Pagan Black Metal album's introductions to shame, featuring a brief but memorable vocal performance that is whispered at first, but gradually becomes clearer and clearer until eventually it grows into powerful shouts, dealing with what sounds like the words of a man filled with realization, indignation and wrath, although it's hard to tell for someone like myself, as all the lyrics are in Romanian. Just as the introduction reaches its climax, it quickly fades away to make way for the next track "Ţesarul De Lumini", or "Weaver Of Lights".
Some of you may already be aware of Satyricon's landmark Black Metal anthem, "Mother North", and how it basically outshines every other song on their Nemesis Divina album and is more or less the first song that comes to mind when mentioning Satyricon. Well, the same happens to me with "Ţesarul De Lumini" on Om. This 12 minute masterpiece is so mind-blowing and moving that it simply takes away the glory of the rest of the album, at least on the first couple of listens, and sometimes I think they should have reserved it as one of the last songs on the album. I will not spoil it too much for you, but let's just say it has all the ingredients, and in the right amounts, to make it one of the best Black Metal songs ever recorded. I shit you not.
Okay, let me spoil it a little bit for you by mentioning one detail. It is one of those few Black Metal songs that manages to use synthesizers to their true potential, blending them in even better than Nargaroth on their Herbstleyd and sounding even more inspiring than on Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse, but more importantly they are used only when absolutely necessary and simply blow you away when they do make their appearance.
The next song is "Primul Om", which translates to "The First Human", and it is essentially an instrumental piece with a mystical atmosphere created by the use of some chilling "pagan" voice effects, synths and several traditional instruments. This is a great way to separate "Ţesarul De Lumini" from the rest of the album in order to reduce the effect the latter has on captivating one's imagination long after it is over. So, we are only at the third track on the album, and there is already enough musical supremacy to rank this album amongst the best Pagan Black Metal albums of all time. Moving on, the rest of the album is basically one amazing song after other, with songs like "Cunoașterea Tăcută", "Dedesuptul", "Cel Din Urmă Vis" and "Hora Soarelui" all contributing greatly to Om's success.
One of the album's highlights is the instrumental interlude "Norilor", featuring an excellent combination of synths, rhythmic drumming and other assorted forms of percussion, making some of Hollywood's most celebrated theme songs appear overdone or half-assed and immature in comparison. Om comes to a brilliant end with another instrumental track, "Al Doilea Om", meaning "The Second Human", which features a continuation of same sounds featured on "Primul Om" but presented in a slightly different manner, and much in the same way "Primul Om" allows the magnificence of "Ţesarul De Lumini" to sink in, "Al Doilea Om" allows you to take in the greatness of the whole album.
Essentially, Negură Bunget's Om is one of the greatest Black Metal albums of it's decade, but it's also much more than that, with few albums being able to create such an inspiring atmosphere, even fewer being able to incorporate traditional instruments with such creativity, and even fewer still being able to pull off such a perfect application of synths. Really, there are so many excellent aspects about this album that some of the more basic elements, such as the fantastic guitars, drumming, vocals, etc... have gone undocumented in this review, but I'll just stop right now and save everyone's time instead of rambling on for another ten paragraphs without fully transmitting just how great everything sounds on Om. You'll just have to trust me when I say that everything sounds great.
What other albums sound similar to this?
While Om is Negură Bunget's crowning achievement, their other albums aren't that far behind, and as you may have suspected, they all fall within the same niche of Black Metal that Negură Bunget themselves pioneer, perfectly executed Pagan Black Metal with a distinct Romanian traditional touch. While it's safe to say that every album they have ever made is fantastic in it's own right, your best choice for finding a similar sounding album to Om would be their previous album 'N Crugu Bradului from 2002 and Măiestrit from 2010, which is a re-intepretation of their classic Mãiastru Sfetnic album from 2000. Also, Vîrstele Pămîntului, their first album to be released since they suffered a significant line-up change in 2009, is just as excellent.
There are two other Romanian Pagan Black Metal bands worth mentioning, related to Negură Bunget. The first is Dordeduh, which was formed by Hupogrammos and Sol Faur after the aforementioned line-up change divided Negură Bunget in two in 2009, and play a similar style to Negură Bunget, having released one EP in 2010 titled Valea Omului, and their 2012 debut full length titled Dar De Duh which is definitely worth checking out.
The second note-worthy band is Marțolea, a solo project by Alin Drimuș who used to play for Negură Bunget live. He has released one full length album to date titled Noaptea Dihăniilor, although the Gâlmele Întunericului demo is also fantastic.
It's very hard to find albums from other bands that can yield Black Metal of a similar quality and nature as Negură Bunget can, but notable mentions are Drudkh's Autumn Aurora, Hate Forest's Battlefields, Kladovest's Atmosphere, Kroda's Cry To Me, River and Nokturnal Mortum's The Voice Of Steel, with all five bands proceeding from neighbouring Ukraine and featuring some great Pagan themes and occasional use of similar traditional instruments. If you like what you hear from these albums, don't hesitate to check out other albums from each band. Another honorable mention hails from somewhere totally unexpected... Chinese band Zuriaake and their debut album Afterimage of Autumn.
In a nutshell...
Negură Bunget are one of the most prominent Black Metal bands around, having consolidated their importance to the scene by contributing nothing but Pagan Black Metal of the finest quality for over 15 years, each album bearing their proprietary approach to the traditional pagan touch. Om is their magnum opus, and you will realize this before the second song is even half-way through. Everything about Om transmits a feeling of natural beauty and ancient wonder, and the perfect combination of traditional Romanian folk instruments and sublime synths together with the already breath-taking songs make this an album that you won't be forgetting any time soon.
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