Review Summary: Symbiotically blending with the living forest.
Negura Bunget was a Romanian metal band that was well acclaimed for its special arhaic atmosphere, the inspired use of traditional instruments and the overall variety with proeminent folk and progressive tinges touching the black metal foundation, and with excellent overall songwriting.
N'crugu bradului came out before the band's most appreciated album 'Om' and is a concept album consisting of 4 lengthy songs, each representing one season. This is a complex and multilayered construct that is not overwhelming the listener but rather allows the wind of time to blow each leaf in order to slowly reveal its full magnificence.
The album is very cohesive and works best in one take, whilst giving it a full attention/no distraction treatment. The production allows you to follow all that is going on but lets you get in so close that it honestly does not feel produced in a studio, I truly believe this should not be looked at as a musical output but rather as a work of art that was created by nature itself whilst the musicians are simply the means of transferring nature's will and message towards anything that interacts with it.
Given a first superficial listen or even at the first proper one will not do it as it might look like a pretty standard atmospheric black metal album. A better trained ear and a bit of patience will help to fully immerse into capturing the utmost power of nature with its exhilarating joy and spontaneous bursts of life, the harsh and unrelenting laws of survival and its dynamic weight balancing between fast and aggressive moments. Peaceful moments of solitude and meditation enrich the soulfulness of the soundscape and take the listener onto a path of serenity that is really hard to find elsewhere in a genre that is striving to deliver just that.
The musicianship is top tier, the song arrangements keep you on your toes and this is achieved whilst the direction turns never brake the atmosphere. Each instrument contributes to the light and shade game that creates a handmade wooden painting and never stirs away from that final goal by trying to stand out.
One standout moment though comes from the vocal part, with a truly frightening moment 'Dracovenia trăiește!!!' , loose translation 'the devilish creature lives!!!'. We are already roaming in the woods , feeling the surrounding elements of nature and hearing that takes the heart rate to unpredictable levels.
I cannot say one bad thing about this album, it comes from a place of true bonding with the nature and its elements. I think it needs to be looked at outside any genre tags or standard metal aesthetic analysis.