Negură Bunget Tău Down
Tău’s timing is… interesting. Or, not really, maybe, but hearing new Negură Bunget right alongside other metal-shod cultural phenomena like Acherontas and Melechesh really puts a few things into perspective.
- Mad respect and appreciation, first and foremost, for anyone trying to wrap metal around a grittier, earthier core, or the other way round. No matter your personal tastes, anyone with greater maturity and a broader perspective than an average suburban fifteen-year-old should be able to admire the compositional stones it takes to blend vulnerable traditional elements with overloaded electrified rage. Not that it’s a new concept, or even particularly novel anymore, but whatever, it’s still worth notice and praise.
- Acoustic strings are great tension-builders. Flutes… not so much. No disrespect to the flute, but its placement on a rock record should be considered extremely carefully.
- Heroic synth melodrama is a mistake. The battlefields or bonfires of lost ages did not ring out with the sweeping sounds of electronically reproduced orchestral nonsense. Sure, Ex Deo has its moments, but their last album was a little bit silly, and it’s important we all accept that and move forward. If your band members can play actual instruments (as Negură Bunget can), let’s not settle for soundscapes ripped from an unreleased Final Fantasy adventure.
Tău soars and falters with everything mentioned above. The band maintains their alien idiosyncrasies throughout every moment of the record, to the point that it’s clear they have an unwavering vision but that said vision is hermetic enough to be inscrutable to outsiders.
Lead track “Nămetenie” places you immediately, undeniably into the very recognizable Negură Bunget headspace. Opening slowly over 150 seconds before breaking into a metallic gallop, the song shifts back and forth between soggy-hut-in-the-woods melancholy and roaring release. It’s epic and perfect in its intermixing of styles, reaching a level of mastery that the remainder of the album struggles to maintain (and often does not). The more single-minded heaviness of songs like “Izbucul galbenei” and “Tărîm vîlhovnicesc” might be more satisfying to metal fans than some of the hazier, less aggressive pieces like “La hotaru cu cinci culmi” or “Curgerea muntelui” but the band’s compositional integrity remains adamant across the entire record. “Împodobeala timpului” injects a little oompah into Negură Bunget’s step – we’ll let you decide how deeply you can buy into it. And right on time, closer “Schimnicește” releases a melancholy darkness that sends the record out on tones as triumphant as those that turned us on in the album’s first minutes.
Tău is not an album for audiences who like to understand every element of the music they’re hearing on first listen, or even on twenty-eighth listen. It invites you to witness the band’s exploration and discovery, but stops short of allowing you to participate in it. It’s more open and less subtle than, say, Ma-Ion by Acherontas, but not so immediately engaging or eminently uproarious as Melechesh’s Enki. Not that Tău was ever meant to be compared to these very differently oriented albums, but the timing is… interesting…
Negură Bunget’s Tău comes out March 3 on Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions. You can stream the track “Namatenie” here and pre-order the album here.