2010 was a year of great rebirth for the Romanian Black Metal act NEGURA BUNGET. Losing two of their core members and having them replaced with new ones, the old band that made such regarded masterpieces as “OM” was now virtually extinct, leaving a new band to take their place. Two albums from this year would ease the band through the transition. The more important of these would be “Vîrstele Pamîntului”, featuring both the new material and new members in action, to somewhat mixed fanfare from fans. The one of lesser importance is this, “Maiestrit”. A re-recording of an earlier album, “Maiestrit” has all of the makings of a fans-only release, although even as a relative newcomer to the music of this band, I have found it to be a fairly intriguing album worthy of checking out.
Although having the dubious honour of being the last recording with the classic line-up together, there is the feeling from the beginning that “Maiestrit” offers little to the band's career. Black Metal purists will undoubtedly prefer the original “Măiastru Sfetnic” over this, but politik aside, NEGURA BUNGET do carry through here. The music tends to be along the lines of what has been heard of them for a few albums now; a brooding, cleanly produced sound of Black Metal that relies heavily on Romanian folklore as its influence. Obviously, the biggest development here from the original “Măiastru Sfetnic” is the recording quality, which much Black Metal tends to suffer, rather than benefit from. Even with a cleaner production though, much of the music here still feels rather haphazardly produced, leaving the vocals ill-defined and the fidelity of the sound inconsistent.
For the first half of the album or so, the tracks rely on NEGURA BUNGET's more common Black Metal sound, and they are frankly somewhat boring here. Although there are aspects here like some awkwardly incorporated psychedelic effects and some synth layerings in the background, the song writing is generally lackluster, and the songs generally do not feel as if they go anywhere. “Al Locului” is an exception to this rule for the first half of the album, which opens up in a fairly promising way, slowly building intensity and momentum before giving way to some less-than-satisfying clean vocal work. The track is a highlight for me however, and feels as if it is going in a very different direction than the rest of the heavy tracks. Something that makes “Maiestrit” more than a note-for-note rendition of the original album is the use of acoustic versions here, which make up the final two tracks here. Although they originally have the semblance of merely being bonus tracks to the rest of the album, they both trump most of the main Black Metal material here, instead feeling as if they have been arranged more thoughtfully and intelligently.
“Maiestrit” does still feel a little unnecessary, despite having some powerful music to express here. However, NEGURA BUNGET do seem to have crafted a fairly faithful re-release of their old material, and with the subsequent departure of Negru and Sol'Faur, thus begins a new chapter for this enigmatic Romanian band.
(Online April 9, 2012)