Originally written by Jeremy Garner
I’ve been taking my time with this one, but no matter how much time I give myself or how many times I’ve tried to capture this album with words, I feel like I will always fall short of instilling the amount of grandeur this album is able to manifest in me. Perhaps it’s a shortcoming of the English language, or perhaps my own personal inability, but either way, this is an album that demands to speak for itself.
Negura Bunget have always had a particularly interesting ability to capture the same sort of lugubrious drone so characteristic of the Ukranian black metal sound ala Drudkh or Hate Forest, while still maintaining a high level of harmonic compositions wrapped up in transcendental melodies that sweep up the listener and supplant them in a beautiful yet haunting soundscape of somber woe. The strong pagan tonalities of the music loosely comparable to earlier Borknagar go beyond being simply a facet of the lyrics, the entire product has an amazingly distinct sense of culture that undercuts everything, creating a tumultuous and intense backdrop to their quite distinct brand of emotionally feral black metal.
While they’ve always had a large dose of subtlety throughout their music, with past albums Negura Bunget seemed to have a fairly singular and clear cut direction, OM meanders playfully around, developing and expanding ideas, pondering its own purpose and nature, with each tumultuous passages coming and going as if a dream. “Epic” does not even begin to describe the stunning panorama this album entails. Negura Bunget’s mastery of their style of Romanian Black metal becomes increasingly apparent with each release.
The stylistic and dynamic variety present on OM is absolutely phenomenal. The versatility of the vocals from high snarls, lower sneers, and soaring clean vocals is an interesting parallel to the extremely tasteful implmentation of percussion, each musician effortlessly shifting seamlessly from raging blasts and lacerating guitar lines to more conserved moments highlighted by the implementation of unconventional instrumentation creates a lucid portrait of a band that is both capable of pernicious wrath as well as pedantic experimentation. The clear and warm production undeniably fits OM with a stripped down organic approach that gives the material room to breath and swell rather without the performance becoming clinical. In fact, the entire presentation is nothing short of breathtaking.
Albeit all of the material stands upon its own particular merits, each song plays an integral part in an infinitely greater whole, from the last moments dying echoes of the album openings lugubrious screams, “Ceasuri Rele” does a fine job of setting the atmosphere for the haunting ferocity to follow with the grandiose opening statement set by the ethereal “Tesarul De Lumini”. The progressive atmospheric cuts, “Primul Om” and “Norilor” and the large majority of “Cel Din Urmã Vis” rather than bogging down the album as simple filler or pure wastes of time, succeed at providing contemplative prologues to their subsequent tracks. The forlorn “Conoas Tãcutã” and the contemplative “Hora Soarelui” prioritize the implementation of folk influences, raising the tracks to the levels of spiritual journeys unto themselves, while the direct ferocity and relative overtness of “De Piatrã” are jarringly different, juxtaposed with the nearly avant-garde amalgam of tumultuous passages presented on “Inarborat” and “Dedesuptul” deftly reconcile and combine the phenomenal stylistic variety Negura Bunget wield.
I’ve always been curious as to why Negura Bunget haven’t received near the amount of widespread publicity and appreciation I believe they are quite in fact due, but for whatever reason, OM should finally cement Negura Bunget’s unconventional black metal and should place them amongst the current elites of the genre. This is an album that demands to be listened to; this is not a background album. The beauty is in the subtlety; it’s when the music has had enough time to work throughout your being that the brilliance truly hits you.