NEGURĂ BUNGET — Maiastru sfetnic (review)

NEGURĂ BUNGET — Maiastru sfetnic album cover Album · 2000 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
After the ho hum debut album “Zîrnindu-să,” the Romanian extreme metal band NEGURĂ BUNGET found the stars aligning on the following EP "Sala Molksa” with the addition of Sol Faur (Cristian Popescu) as the second guitarist which really lifted the band’s sound up several notches. Add to that the more sophisticated progressive songwriting techniques as well as a better integrated strain of local folk music elements finding their way into the mix and the band had successfully strayed from mediocrity to becoming one of Eastern Europe’s most innovative atmospheric black metal bands. This trend continued on the second full-length album MăIASTRU SFETNIC (“Masterful Guide”).

This album shows an even more progressive development in the songwriting with six long tracks that stretch out over the 9 minute mark with the only exception being the 6 minute “A-vînt în abis.” Once again Hupogrammos (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Negru (drums) and Sol Faur (bass, guitars) conjure up an aggressive mystical experience that uses aggressive black metal as the template to create lengthy progressive workouts that result in a creepy journey through the Transylvanian forests with spooky atmospheric embellishments coinciding with buzzsaw guitar riffs and pummeling bass and drum rhythmic sections. The experience is augmented with connections to antiquity through the use of Romanian folklore and traditional sounds that would continue to increase up to the band’s most famous offering “Om.”

At this point the band exists in a rawer form of adrenalized second wave black metal however the music is enshrouded in a mystical brume of symphonic and artistic touches and overall comes off as rather hypnotic despite the orotundity and rage seeping out of every cadence ready to go in for the kill. The opener “Vremea Locului Sortit” sets the stage for the lengthy black metal workouts but tracks such as the idiosyncratic “In-Zvicnirea Apusului” add surprisingly incongruent extras, in this case the inclusion of theremin sounds which as far as i know had never been used in a black metal context up to this point. Despite the second wave black metal template, the compositions are carefully thought out with the atmospheric elements not simply playing in tandem with the aggressive guitar, bass and drums but rather playing together as partners with a greater focus in mind.

While many an extreme metal band with its eye on the progressive prize were implementing more elements of avant-prog and jazzy dissonance, NEGURĂ BUNGET was taking a different route altogether. This band was opting to retain the melodic and aggressive aspects of bands like Emperor and simply tease them out into much more epic runs, therefore the playing times were lengthening and the compositional sophistication came through the variations between the nooks and crannies. The production while filthy and raw, still feels frosted over by a fresh falling of icy cold snow but also portends that monsters are at large and awaiting any unsuspecting passers-by to succumb to their predatory nature. The music all in all is ominous and creepy but maintains an easily accessible stylistic approach. The vocals while exclusively in the raspy shouted camp are buried beneath the din and emerge from the pits of hell to deliver an anguished torturous frenzy.

There are many atmospheric metal albums that can sound cheesy but not the case with MăIASTRU SFETNIC which successfully integrates the elements into the filthy rawness without ruining their menacing effect. This is a great album to get lost in as the repetitive tracks meander on but change things up just enough as to prevent tedium from setting in. This is actually a really great black metal album that paved the way for the 21st century scene and single handedly put Romanian black metal on the map. While not as masterful and mind-blowingly beautiful as the band’s magnum opus “Om,” MăIASTRU SFETNIC is an excellent slice of amazingly consistent black metal that cops an Eastern European epic flair and displays the vast improvement of musicianship since the band’s 90s output.
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