A couple of
months ago, I discovered the Romanian folk black metal band Negură Bunget, which
is a true gem among metal bands. Not only their outstanding musical style that
combines black metal with traditional Romanian music put them on the map - the
band's a lot about ideology and tradition, too. The band name already points it
out nicely: roughly, the term "negură bunget" describes a black fog coming from
a never-ending, dark forest. Magical places like dense forests can be found in
Transylvania, the band's home region - that's why Transylvanian spirituality is
one of Negură Bunget's most important concepts: They got inspired by the endless
beauty of untouched land, mythology and pastoral traditions. Negură Bunget offer
melodic black metal mixed with a piece of Romanian tradition with every album.
"Tău", the band's most recent release, is the first part of their Transylvanian
trilogy and for me as a native-born Romanian from the Eastern Carpathians, it's
been truly instructive and appreciative to really dive into the concept of "Tău"
(which means "rime" in English), as far as it has been possible to understand
the main topics without the lyrics in front of me (they aren't available yet).
could infer some general information from the song titles, understood lyrics and
a couple of released music videos, "Tău" is a sonic and visual tribute to Negură
Bunget's home region Transylvania. The first tracks deal with nature and
important places and the rest with region-specific traditions.
The album starts with an over ten-minute-track "nămetenie" (which I believe
means "behemoth" or "thurse") which, accompanied by a beautiful music video
here), has already been released beforehand and pretty much sums up
the album nicely. With lots of dynamics, "izbucu galbenei" describes the place
where very cold, opalescent green-blue water springs from a cliff and gives
birth to the Galbena River, a tributary of the Gilort River. The next track "la
hotaru cu cinci culmi" (translation would sound something like "at the compass
of five mountain's peaks") is one of my favorites. I'm not quite sure about the
location of these "five mountain's peaks", but I assume the band refers to the
Rodna Mountains. "curgerea muntelui" and the addictional music video (watch it
here) offer another visual experience with pictures taken in the
region of the Retezat Mountains.
second and more spiritually-centred part of "Tău" starts with "tărīm
vīlhovnicesc", a heavier song that sets ancient wizardry to music. The album
continues with the groovy and folksy "īmpodobeala timpului" ("time's adornment")
and the atmospheric and profound "picur viu foc" ("bespeckled fire", not sure
about this one, though). My favorite track is by far the last one called "schimnicește"
(watch the music video
here) which deals with the act of leading the life of an anchorite.
It's easily the most succeeded and emotional song and rounds out the album
With every new listen, Negură Bunget's music reminds me of how beautiful and
rich in tradition my homeland is and makes me proud of being part of it. "Tău"
en bloc is a strong album that offers loads to discover, musically,
geographically, mythologically and ideologically all together. The overall style
turned out to be very melodic and atmospheric and it reflects the selected
locations and topics very well. I do think that it doesn't overcome the
legendary album "OM", but maybe the completed Transylvanian trilogy will. Still,
"Tău" is probably one of my personal highlights of the entire year of 2015, and
as described throughout this whole review, it's more than music - it's a bit of
Romania. I'm already looking forward to part two!