For all of the justifiable accolades thrown in the direction of Negura Bunget over the years, the Rumanian ensemble's self-appointed Transylvanian Metal still lingered in the long, inspirational shadow of Sweden's pioneering Bathory, somewhat. After all, it was Bathory mastermind Quorthon who, in the late '80s, first struck upon the improbable concept of combining his country's ages-old folk music traditions with the cutting-edge ferocity of black metal; and, despite Negura's unquestionable talent for applying this concept to their own national music traditions, even their best albums often consisted of an uninterrupted parade of ten-minute, soft/hard, black-folk epics, steeped in rather typical black metal stereotypes (agonized shrieks, buzz-saw riffing, raging blastbeats, etc.). That is, until the arrival of their fourth full-length opus, 2006's watershed Om, where the band went completely "off-trail," as it were, for a meandering, unpredictable, but ultimately very rewarding and obviously meticulously assembled 60-plus minute sensory experience (greatly aided, one might add, by watching the accompanying DVD, which sheds light on the band's complex musical and spiritual concept). Extreme metal riffs, fast-picked melodies, and rhythms that once stormed ahead inexorably now gained elasticity and even flirted with the groove-laden mysteries of post-metal; ambient synthesizer passages grew more lush and prominent in the overall picture, bridging these violent outbursts with cinematic evocations; clean vocals that had been premiered sparingly on 2002's 'N Crugu Bradului were not only much improved (i.e., in tune), but now intermingled with both BM shrieks and — shock! — death metal-type growls; and everything meshed almost seamlessly with native Romanian wind, stringed, and percussive instruments. Therefore, perhaps the only evident drawbacks facing Om in this age of short attention spans and digital music consumption habits are, respectively, the sheer difficulty of digesting its revolutionary scope, and the fact that many of its songs, or, more accurately, its "movements", don't always stand up individually, working best within the context of the time-consuming overall piece. For the sake of argument, though, fans looking for the best standalone songs to help them wrap their puny minds around Negura's masterwork can start with the particularly versatile yet self-contained highlights, "Aesarul de Lumini," "Cunoasterea Tacuta," and "Cel Din Urma Vis," which encapsulate most all of the ingredients cited above (those in need of a black metal relapse can go for the virtually frill-free "De Piatra."). But, given enough time, one can only assume that sonic adventurers who have made it this far won't resist crossing the thresholds of these entryways soon enough, in order to glimpse Om's magnificence in all of its breathtaking range and imagination.
Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s
Following in the footsteps of Sweden's Bathory, who were among the first European groups to utilize their own national legends as inspiration for their songwriting themes (Norse and Viking tradition, in their case), Negura Bunget combine Romanian history and folklore into a mystical sonic adventure, quite literally inspired by their homeland of Transylvania. Formed in 1995 by Hupogrammos Disciple (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Negru (drums, xylophone) under the name Wiccan Rede, the group recorded... Full bio