NEGURĂ BUNGET — Sala Molksa (review)

NEGURĂ BUNGET — Sala Molksa album cover EP · 1998 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
After the debut album “Zîrnindu-să” was released in 1996, NEGURĂ BUNGET went from a duo to a trio after guitarist Sol Faur (Cristian Popescu) joined the group and offered his own sensibilities which heightened the Romanian folklore and creativity clearly absent from the debut. The new lineup released their first material in 1998 in the form of the EP titled SALA MOLKSA which found not only a better production job that allowed the atmospheric possibilities to match the creepiness of the darkened Carpathian fog from which the band took its name but also found the band incorporating the wealth of Romanian folk music into the compositions that teased the synthesizers into emulating traditional flutes as well as adding more diverse dynamics, tempos and variation.

SALA MOLKSA consisted of five tracks each titled in the impenetrable Romanian language which makes it all the more mysterious and as nebulous as the cloud covered forest that surround the band’s native city of Timişoara. With a second guitarist, NEGURĂ BUNGET took the extreme metal to new heights. The guitar fury was turned up to the max, the bass lines were now separated as to be heard under the buzzsaw guitar feedback and the drumming became more ferocious with a new found purpose rather than just keeping the beat. Most importantly the compositions were more nuanced with more progressive developments and most importantly the keyboards were balanced as to provide an eerie sonic haze and evolving light years beyond the cheesy kid stuff from the debut album.

Not only had NEGURĂ BUNGET turned up the black metal riffage to Bathory level but achieved a balance with the atmospheric touches that would make Emperor proud as the symphonic orchestration mix harmoniously with nary a flaw. Best of all the tracks were no longer predictable second wave black metal and each track stood proud on its own as it ferociously fused the fury of the Scandinavian northlands with the dark and macabre folklore of the Carpathian occult world. On SALA MOLKSA, NEGURĂ BUNGET displayed their potential well and were finally hinting at the magical musical mojo was lurking beneath the surface and awaiting a more refined approach that would result in albums like “OM.” Add to that a huge leap in technical proficiency that showed the musicianship hitting their stride.

SALA MOLKSA is a frenetic beast that no longer feels like the ugly stepchild of the bigger, badder and better produced black metal leaders of the north but rather a declaration that a new brand of black metal has stepped into the ring and taking the roller coaster ride in a new direction. This EP was that statement that launched NEGURĂ BUNGET into the position as Romania’s best musical output Timişoara’s other claim to fame, the 70s progressive rock band Phoenix. While “Zîrnindu-să” showed a fledgling band getting its feet wet, SALA MOLKSA shows a band coming of age and although not creating the magnum opus of their career, nevertheless conjured up an excellent slab of atmospherically fueled black metal fury that crafted four strong ferocious tracks and a short ending track that pointed listeners into the direction of where things were going.

Everything about SALA MOLSKA is a step up from its predecessor. The melodies are more hauntingly beautiful, the black metal ferociousness is unhinged and electrified manyfold and the pacing of the tracks keeps this one interesting for its entire run. The EP was released initially on cassette in Romania and the following year found a release on CD. It also was included on the 2004 Box Set in its entirety and after NEGURĂ BUNGET rise to success was re-recorded and released once again in 2008. The EP appears on the band’s Bandcamp page and both versions are presented side by side for comparison. Frankly i’m not too keen on re-recordings but whatever. This original is just fine by me. Black metal doesn’t need to be and on the contrary actually works better in a lo-fi setting. Musically this one is brilliant and sonically the textures meld together perfectly. A huge leap forward indeed.
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