Mar 292010

I’ve said before that I’m a latecomer to the charms of black metal, and I’m trying to educate myself. Romania’s Negură Bunget has been on my list of bands to check out, but I decided to wait for two new releases that were forecast for this year. Those albums — Măiestrit and Vîrstele Pămîntului — have recently become available, though the bands that produced them are not entirely the same.

Up until the spring of 2009, Negură Bunget consisted of drummer Negru, vocalist/keyboardist Hupogrammos, and guitarist/bassist Sol Faur (all pictured above). At that point, the latter two members left the band (and are now involved in a project called Dordeduh), and Negru recruited new artists to continue creating music under the Negură Bunget banner.

The first of the two new releases, Măiestrit, is a re-recording of the band’s 2000 album called Măiastru Sfetnic, and the new production was completed in 2009 by the three original members of the band. The second album is the work of Negru and his new bandmates. Today we’ll write about Măiestrit and tomorrow we’ll come to Vîrstele Pămîntului.

We haven’t listened to the 2000 recording of Măiastru Sfetnic, but Negru explained in a recent Decibel magazine interview (May 2010 issue) that the new release is both an enhancement in production and a re-imagined interpretation of the music, prompted by the band’s complete dissatisfaction with the 2000 album.

Obviously, we can’t comment on the previous release or contrast the old with the new. But considered as a stand-alone effort, Măiestrit is completely captivating in its emotional power and is one of the most impressive albums we’ve heard this year. (more after the jump, including a track to stream from Măiestrit . . .) Continue reading »