From Transylvanian Forests

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As one of the few metal bands out of Romania to have achieved international recognition, Negură Bunget have developed their sound from a traditional, atmospheric black metal into something quite original. Parallels may be drawn between this band and others like Opeth or Enslaved; with each album, this Romanian act have pursued an increasingly progressive and experimental direction. Having done a couple of my favourite black metal albums in ‘Maiastru Stefnic’ and ‘Om’, I was very excited to hear what Negură Bunget would sound like when they played Vancouver. Catching up with drummer and band leader Negru a little while before the show, he gave me the scoop on what this band is all about.
Also on the bill were Toronto black metallers Eclipse Eternal, Romanian neofolk duo Din Brad, and blackened openers Desecrate Scripture.

For anyone who may not have heard Negura Bunget before, how might you describe your sound and musical approach?

Negru: I only say that we play black metal, that’s the major thing. But, it’s a very personal way of black metal, we enjoy exploring different things, experimenting and going everywhere with things. There are some folk parts, traditional Romanian influences, progressive influences. A whole mixture of things. We try to bring new elements so each album is a little bit different, hopefully! I think everybody decides the things they want on their own!

You would associate yourself most with black metal though.

Yes, but mostly as far as the conceptual approach goes, or the ideology. Black metal is maybe the only musical genre where the concepts behind the music is more important than the music itself. The music is more of a reflection of the ideas, but the main thing is to get the concept across.

And Negura Bunget is very vocal about its ideology of nature and pagan worship!

Yes, but in order to get that black metal approach across, one must censor themselves, or keep themselves within a certain box in order to retain the atmosphere. Even so, we hope to be at the very edge of that.

Going more into the ideologies; what draws you to this sort of nature-reverence in your music?

Our main influences are our local history and spirituality, the natural elements; they all seem to blend together.

Just an offbeat question… What sort of black metal bands first influenced you starting out?

When we started, it was the Norwegian classics like Emperor, Mordor, Enslaved… But we listened to a variety of different music, not just metal. The more you listen, the more it broadens your perspective.

Onto my my next question; Negura Bunget has transformed from a fairly atmospheric-based band to one that’s much more progressive and experimental. From ‘Om’ onwards, was this more of a natural growth, or was it a conscious decision to take the sound and build it up to something greater?

It’s hard saying you will take a certain sound and take it here, and there, and there. It’s just a natural sort of evolution, but we did want to take things further. It wasn’t like we were satisfied with our sound; we wanted to keep pushing our boundaries and doing different, better things. Same from the beginning of the band…

You changed your lineup a few years ago also, where it went from a three man group to what’s not a virtually completely different cast of musicians, besides you, who is now the core member. I’m wondering how this has changed the way Negura Bunget writes and makes music?

Back in the day, we had three official members, as well as an extended lineup for live. Now, we have a six member line up, full members in the band. We had lineup changes even after that, but it’s going quite well. There are more people who are more directly involved, we’re able to do more things. We have very intense live and studio activity. I think things are happening much faster for us now!

A question about the new recording; you re-recorded one of my favourite ever black metal albums, ‘Maiastru Sfetnic’, now into ‘Maiastrit’. I know that you had some issues with the original, but what issues in particular did you have with the original, and looking back, do you think the re-recording is better overall?

We were actually not satisfied at all with the original, from the beginning. So when we ended that album, we said “the first time we have a chance, let’s do it again”. We enjoyed that album, but we knew that there were alot of things that weren’t there that were supposed to be. I think the new version is closer to what we wanted originally, it’s more straightforward, it’s cleaner, but after ten years, it’s quite a bit different; we changed it alot.

So, this has been your first tour going through North America; a pretty massive undertaking from my understanding. How has it been going so far?

I think it’s been going pretty well so far, actually it’s been going better than I think we expected, especially in Canada.

What was involved in getting this thing together; was it fairly difficult?

It was not too hard organizing the dates but it was very difficult getting all the paperwork; all that kind of stuff, it was really a nightmare! But for the rest of it, it was really not difficult, we had contacts for a lot of different years, and people asked us if we would like to come, so we already had things worked out.

Coming off from your European tour; are there any subtle differences between the European fans that come to Negura shows and the North American ones?

We never had a ‘certain kind of people’ come to our shows, even in Europe. It’s always different people, some are into metal, other are in the folk, or ambient parts… Just people who enjoy different parts; it’s pretty much the same here, I wouldn’t say there is a big difference. Overall the people are a bit different here, but like as you say, it is a subtle difference.

As far as your live concerts go, this must be quite a bit more difficult to organize now. What went into this?

When we set out on this tour, we decided that we wanted to get as much of what you hear on the album into the live setting, so if there’s an instrument on the album, we also want to bring that live! Fortunately, we have played alot, so it’s not too hard to put things together. We have alot of background experience. We had alot of problems, but now we’re here. It’s just we have to figure out how to get all the instruments together, we don’t have all that we use, but most of it here! If we don’t have an instrument that’s on the album, then we just don’t play those songs. Pretty much, what you hear on the album is what you hear live!

You’re playing in another band tonight; Din Brad, which for anyone who hasn’t heard them yet, is a neofolk band whose name translates into ‘From The Fir Tree’. I hadn’t heard of them before knowing they were on this bill; it sounds to be like a particularly ambient take on folk and classical music…

We have some of those influences in Negura, but yes, this is a very different approach. With Din Brad, we play traditional Romanian folk music, it’s a personal vision of that traditional music, but there’s no metal!

How is this music been received by the concertgoers, mostly metalheads?

I think some people are able to connect with it and feel the music, and some do not open themselves up to it.

Yeah, that whole “not black metal = not good” way of thinking…

It’s fine for us though, actually what we wanted to do. It’s been okay so far!

You’re playing in Vancouver tonight, and I’m wondering; do you know anything about Vancouver’s scene for black metal?

I can’t say; I am not too much familiar with it!

Have you ever heard of Blasphemy? (Points to Blasphemy “Fallen Angel of Doom” patch)

Yes, from Vancouver? I think we may have played with them! *Laughs*

They’re wicked. What advice might you give to other musicians in the black metal scene, trying to get a band together or put music out?

The most important thing is to follow your own path, don’t be distracted by what others want you to be. Everything goes from that.

Anything that I may missed?

Negru: I’m not sure! *Laughs*

Conor: Best of luck with the show!


  1. Commented by: Guilliame

    Good Interview.
    I always love the Slavic note choices, melodies, and rhythms. Negura Bunget is a truly great band.
    Great job!

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