Negura Bunget - Om
Code666 Records
Epic, Folk-infused, Progressive Black Metal
11 songs (01:07:06)
Release year: 2006
Negura Bunget , Code666 Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

An event such as this is rare. Black Metal is supposed to make you catch your breath, supposed to move you emotionally, but how many bands actually, honestly manage it? Well, let’s put it simply; Negură Bunget make it look easy. This bunch of Romanians will make you forget that Drudkh exist, will come in time to make Burzum extinct, worthless in the realms of atmospheric Black Metal. With their fourth full-length, this band has set the bar so damn high that if you are in a band yourself, you might as well give up on the intermediate emotional flailing and eat that shotgun right now, for never will you get anywhere near to creating a piece of timeless art such as Om. The very moment you insert the CD onwards you’re hooked; from the rather spooky whispering at the start of opening track Ceasura Rele (‘dark times’) alone it’s pretty damn obvious that you’ve embarked on a journey that will take you far beyond the destination of the usual Black Metal.

It’s just an intro, however, compared to what is to come; the next track, the twelve-minute Esarul De Lumini (‘weaver of lights’) is but one reason to weave yourself into this album and never let go. Guitars intertwine, mixing, dancing, leaping, melodic riffs sliding over each other, a tidal wave of keyboards rising in the background, drums laying down a deceivingly basic beat as Folk melodies rise above the storm clouds... A screaming growl comes from nowhere and echoes over the music like thunder above the Transylvanian forests, guitars blurring to ambience. This is emotion in music, is spirituality condensed into sound. How can you describe the natural magic of a mountain? How can you describe the roar of a river as it flows over a cliff to become a waterfall? How can you stand before the wild in all its glory and deny that there is something beyond human life in all its wretched squalor, something that rises above the stinking surface of civilisation and points without doubt to the existence of – not God, but a godliness, some ineffable beauty that is a reason for continuing with life as opposed to ending it now?

How can it be put into words? The male choirs of Primul Om (‘first human’), bonding with the vast and majestic keyboards, the best use of which since early Enslaved? The horns and rambling percussion, the gripping waves of sound that herald man’s initial, uncertain, foreboding steps? No band, past or present, can compete with the deceptively simple purity of Cunoaş Terea Tăcută (‘silenced knowledge’). It’s easy to shut your eyes and travel whilst listening to Om, easy to give yourself over to the most underappreciated band yet. Despite many listens, you’ll never fathom the depths explored here, the hidden-in-plain-view-progressions, the genius placing of Folk instrumentation such as flute, the considered mix of clean and harsh vocals that can be simultaneously rabid and transcendental.

It’s easy to pronounce a band as being ‘good’ or ‘rubbish’, easy to state that the sounds produced will please or displease your ears. Even the best band can have limited appeal, after all. Well, Negură Bunget are more than just a band, and so are not bound by such rules. The accompanying DVD is as much a facet of the ‘band’ as the music on the CD. Music videos included here are not of the members playing (although there are live shots included elsewhere) but are solemn flyovers of the amazing natural beauty of Romania; the images evoked a perfect companion to the music itself.

What’s most special about Om is that this genius, this cinematic sense of epic scope, is obvious from the first listen, and is just as enjoyable and awe-worthy on the hundredth. Dip in here and there and you’ll be confounded by the seemingly old-school Death Metal intro of De Piatră (‘of stone’), to pick a random example. Listen to the album from the start, however, and you’ll see how everything slots into place, makes perfect sense. Little (if anything) is as instantaneous and full of wonder as this: Black Metal that truly deserves the label of ‘art’, something precious that speaks to us all individually, if we take the moment to study it, absorb ourselves in its surface, take the time to go deeper. Absolutely essential to all; a classic in the making and a marvellous piece of music.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole is beyond amazing
Goat quoted 97 / 100
Adam quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Negura Bunget that we have reviewed:
Negura Bunget - Zău reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Negura Bunget - Tau reviewed by Jared and quoted 85 / 100
Negura Bunget - Vîrstele Pamintului reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
Negura Bunget - Maiestrit reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Negura Bunget - Zîrnindu-să reviewed by Dan and quoted 95 / 100
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