What do you associate with Romania? If the answer is Dracula, then let me tell you that there is much more to this country. The Romanian culture is rich in ancient traditions differing from region to region, some of them still practiced to this day. It is also one of the few European countries where you will still find completely wild, untouched nature. All this makes for a great source of inspiration for any kind of art, and that is what Negură Bunget are doing: creating unique music, beautiful artwork and visual experiences based on their homeland. To me, Negură Bunget is not only one of the most genuine bands I know, but their music has also gained a special place in my heart. Most of the traditional instruments Negură Bunget use in their music are familiar to me, as well as many of the topics their lyrics are inspired by. This band truly feels like home to me.
“ZI” (engl.:“day” or “say”) is part two of Negură Bunget’s Transylvanian trilogy, which kicked off in 2015 with an impressive output, “Tău” (engl.:“yours” or “rime”). While the first part was more about Romanian myths, legends, tales and the landscape in general, “ZI” is digging deeper into ancient traditions, the people’s practices and their bond with nature. Sound-wise, there are also differences. “Tău” sounded a lot more straight-forward than the new release; in comparison, “ZI” is quite minimalistic and calm.
Negură Bunget came a long way since their beginnings and have evolved quite substantially. Their black metal roots have still been incorporated into their newer, more dynamic, atmospheric style, though, with the only difference that the dynamics on “ZI” are more accentuated: By putting layer over layer over layer, Negură Bunget are creating their music the same way as an artist would create a painting, with small and big strokes, slow and fast motions, lightly or heavy-handedly. The result is a beautiful piece of art.
I have to admit that the new album didn’t impress me in the beginning. But when I started listening closer to “ZI”, every listen felt different – which, to me, is a good sign. It indicates that this is an album I will enjoy for a long time, as there is always something new to discover with every listen. All tracks on “ZI” evoke different pictures and sceneries in the listener’s mind; this allows him to dive into the music and forget the world around him.
“ZI” starts with “Tul-ni-că-rînd”, which from all tracks presented makes for the best introduction. It starts quietly and builds up to some powerful chanting before the lead vocals kick in. The following track, “Grădina Stelelor”, is just magical – I especially like the traditional flutes used in the beginning and ending of the song, as well as the lead guitar melody. “Brazda Dă Foc” even reminded me a little bit of the album “OM”, especially during the bridge. “Baciu Moşneag” is the most energetic track on “ZI”, but it does slow down during the mid-section. The last two tracks show how diverse Negură Bunget can sound: “Stanciu Gruiul” sounds more traditional, also regarding the rhythm of the songs. The grand finale “Marea Cea Mare” sounds phenomenal thanks to the subtle use of synthesizers and drums; the female guest vocals make this track even more ethereal and beautiful.
I’ve truly grown into loving this album – that is all I have left to say. If you would like to escape the world for an hour and dive into the lands and traditions of Romania, do yourself a favor and check out Negură Bunget’s “ZI”.
- Grădina Stelelor
- Brazda Dă Foc
- Baciu Moşneag
- Stanciu Gruiul
- Marea Cea Mare
Label: Prophecy Productions