Romania’s arguably best-known metal band returns, hot off the heels of their last album.
If you don’t know who Negura Bunget are and you find yourself drawn to the atmospheric or even avant-garde side of black metal, shame on you. Founded in 1994 as Wiccan Rede by drummer Negru and vocalist/string-instrumentalist Hupogrammos, they changed their name to Negura Bunget after one demo. At those times the band was still playing a more traditional kind of black metal, though heavily-laden with synths. The band’s shift towards more original sound began when Sol Faur was added as bassist/guitarist and reached its apex, both in songwriting and originality, with the release of 2006’s Om, a near-perfect amalgamation of black metal, prog, and Romanian folk influences.
Sometime after Om’s release the trio’s relationship began to crack, ultimately leading into Sol Faur’s and Hupogrammos’ exit from the band and the founding of Dordeduh (and later Sunset in the 12th House). Meanwhile Negru soldiered on with a new, seven-headed line-up (some discordant voices claim the trio agreed to disband Negura Bunget, but Negru breached the agreement. The truth is out there, somewhere) and recorded Virstele Pamintului with the new line-up. The record was released on March 31st, 2010, 16 days after the classic line-up’s last recording, Maiestrit (a re-recording of the band’s sophomore effort).
Confused yet, no? Good, because heads began to roll soon enough and by 2013 everyone had exited the band and Negru assembled yet another, 6/8-headed line-up (depending on whether you count the sound and visual designers as members). The renewed band’s first release was last year’s Tau, the first part of a Transylvanian trilogy – intended to give new depiction of the heritage and nature of the area, to challenge the western view filled with vampires and battles. The album’s reception was rather mixed, but I felt myself drawn to its folk-dominated music rather strongly. Not as much an amalgamation of the two sounds, but flowing between them in a rather satisfactory manner.
Now for the first item of interest for those already versed with the band’s history. The second part to Negura Bunget’s Transylvanian trilogy, Zi (meaning “day or “say”) will be released on September 30th through Prophecy Productions. You can peep the cover art above, though the cleverest Jakes among you might have already noticed it as the featured image. The line-up has remained unaltered, which bodes well for the record, and the band themselves had to say about the record:
In creating its most luminescent recording to date, Negura Bunget has further immersed itself in the traditions and practices of local Transilvanian inhabitants, exploring their connection with nature, and the way this relationship has shaped spiritual horizons. Within this framework, “ZI” closely examines the core of the most important traditions and rituals connected with the well-being of this community. Life events such as funeral ceremonies, soil tillage, and human growth and evolution (i.e. youth to teen to man to warrior, through to outcast) are spotlighted, in what is undoubtedly some of the most heady, thinking-man’s metal produced in recent memory.
Musically, “ZI” builds upon the hallmarks of Negura Bunget’s impressive catalog; the juxtaposition and interweaving of grim black metal elements, ambient soundscapes and acoustic counterparts based on native Romanian folk music, giving life to panoramic atmospheres, intensity and power unequaled in the band’s rich discography.
An impressive musical statement and crucial bridge between root-bearing beginning and impending finale of the trilogy (scheduled to be released in early 2018), “ZI” is a mystical, tension-building recording that mirrors the size and scope of the deep forest fog for which the band is named.
The album will be available as an extra-hard cover digipak CD, a gatefold LP (180g vinyl, white) and as a 2CD + DVD artbook (with 72 pages with additional artwork, texts and English translations of the lyrics). The bonus CD on the artbook includes remixed version of exactly half of the album’s songs, as well as of “Schimniceste” off of Tau, whereas the DVD will include visuals to two of the album’s songs as well as a short-film spanning the entire album, also called Zi.
Pre-order the custom and signed editions here, and the regular editions here. You can also help the band reach more places (Australia, New Zealand, Asia etc.) on their upcoming 20th anniversary tour in tandem with promoting Zi by backing their Indiegogo campaign through which you can also get those special editions of the album. Like the band on Facebook, like Prophecy Productions on FB and tell both The Toilet said “Hi”, and peep the album’s track-listing below.
1. Tul-ni-că-rînd (Horn-ing)
2. Grădina stelelor (Garden of Stars)
3. Brazdă dă foc (Furrow of Fire)
4. Baciul Moșneag (The Old Shepherd)
5. Stanciu Gruiul (Stanciu Gruiul)
6. Marea Cea Mare (The Vast Sea)