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The band's last lineup.

(Note: The correct spelling of this band's name is Negură Bunget, but due to a glitch in the wiki software, correcting it with WikiWord customisation currently causes problems. See Spell My Name with an "S" in the tropes list for further information.)
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Negură Bunget (Romanian for dark foggy forest) is (or was; the status of the band is unclear due to factors explained below) a Black Metal band from Timișoara, Romania, who have served as one of the Trope Codifiers for the Black Metal / Post-Rock subgenre. Formed in 1994 under the name Wiccan Rede, the band's best-known lineup consisted of the Rock Trio of drummer Negru (Gabriel Mafa), guitarist / vocalist / keyboardist Hupogrammos Disciple (Edmond Karban), and guitarist Sol Faur (Cristian Popescu, who joined after the band's first album). As a trio, the band released a series of critically acclaimed albums including Măiastru sfetnic, 'n crugu bradului, and Om. The final recordings with Hupogrammos and Sol Faur were Focul viu, a live album recorded in 2008 (though not released until 2011), and Măiestrit, a re-recording of Măiastru sfetnic; after this point, Creative Differences set in (this actually occurred during the recording process for Măiestrit, which the band members finished by sending recordings to each other). Some sources have alleged that the band members actually agreed to break up, though none of the band members themselves have confirmed this.

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In any case, Negru kept the band going, and released a series of recordings to mixed reception (probably worsened by the fact that some fans considered his keeping the project going to be a betrayal). Some fans have been quite enthusiastic about the band's new recordings, but others have been less so. Vîrstele pămîntului has been by the far the most acclaimed of the band's recordings post-Măiestrit, and may qualify as Vindicated by History at this point. Hupogrammos and Sol Faur, for their part, have started their own band called Dordeduh ("Longing for Spirit"), which has continued in a similar style to that of Om, releasing the 2012 album Dar de duh (Gift of Spirit) to widespread acclaim. (To be honest, the styles of Vîrstele pămîntului and Dar de duh are so similar that some listeners have had difficulty understanding where the Creative Differences came from.)

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The band's recordings are generally quite naturalistic, with lots of open spaces, and tend to be evocative of the band's native Transylvania. The band really began to establish their Signature Style on Măiastru sfetnic, which featured complex song arrangements, lengthy compositions, and lengthy ambient passages to contrast with the blasting black metal sections. The next few albums refined this to perfection.

A note should also be made about the band's lyrical content, which, like that of many Black Metal bands, delved deep into paganism. Negru had an academic background studying his country's history and traditions, and the band's lyrics often reflected a reverence for knowledge and spirituality. Many of them were written in archaic dialects of Romanian, and the band's album title Sala molksa is even in Proto-Indo-European (the root of languages currently spoken by 46% of humans worldwide, including but not limited to the Italic/Romance, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, and Indo-Iranian language subfamilies).

Tragically, Negru unexpectedly died from a heart attack in March 2017, age 42. This appears to have caused the break-up of the band; although they were two albums of the way through a planned Transilvanian Trilogy at the time of Negru's death, and presumably at least some of the material for the third album was recorded, the band officially came to an end after his death. Sou Faur and Hupogrammos have a spin-off project called Dordeduh which continues in a similar style; four other surviving members and ex-members of Negură Bunget formed a new project called Sur Austru.


Discography:

  • From Transilvanian Forest (1995) (demo, as Wiccan Rede)
  • Zîrnindu-să (Getting Weak; 1996)
  • Sala molksa (EP, 1998)
  • Măiastru sfetnic (Masterful Guide; 2000)
  • 'n crugu bradului (Through the Depths of the Fir Tree Heights, 2002)
  • Inarborat Kosmos (Arboreal Cosmos, EP, 2005)
  • Om (Human, 2006)
  • Măiestrit (2010) (Masterly; re-recording of Măiastru sfetnic; last studio release with Huppogrammos and Sol Faur)
  • Vîrstele pămîntului (Ages of the Earth; 2010)
  • Poartă de dincolo (The Gate Beyond; EP, 2011)
  • Focul viu (Living Fire; live album; released 2011; recorded 2008)
  • Gînd a-prins (Lost in Thought, though see Pun-Based Title below; EP, 2013)
  • Tău (Swamp; 2014)
  • Zi (Day; 2016)

Tropes:

  • Album Intro Track: "Ceasuri rele" from Om, most famously.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Strongly averted by Negru, who, while he was quite capable of blasting when the music called for it, was also capable of complex, subtle fills whenever necessary, and was quite the intellectual as well.
  • Badass Bookworm: Negru evidently had a master's degree in the ethnogenesis of Romania and was a classically trained drummer.
  • Band of Relatives: Hupogrammos' siblings Diana and Gabi Karban performed live with Negură Bunget while he was in the band.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Nearly all of their lyrics are in Romanian.
  • Black Metal: One of the genre's most critically acclaimed practitioners.
  • Blatant Lies: Despite being labelled "acoustic version", at least one of the bonus tracks on Măiestrit still has clearly audible electric guitar. However, it's much less prominent, which is probably what they were going for.
  • Concept Album: Most of the band's albums are examples. For example, 'n crugu bradului is a concept album about a shepherd who witnesses the cycle in seasons while tending his flocks, and Om is a creation myth.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The band's first few recordings have much shorter songs and much less Post-Rock influence than they became known for.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Starting with Măiastru sfetnic, probably around half of their songs qualify. Particularly glorious examples include "Plecăciunea morții" and "Țesarul de lumini".
  • Epic Rocking: A specialty of the band. The best example may be 'n crugu bradului, which lasts for nearly fifty-four minutes despite only containing four tracks. Their longest song is "III" from 'n crugu bradului, which runs for 15:13, unless you count live medleys, in which case Focol viu has a medley of "II" and "III" that runs for 16:14. Spin-off Dordeduh beat both of these with "Jind de tronuri", which runs for 16:20.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Up to half their song transitions on some albums, really, including the last three tracks of 'n crugu bradului.
  • Folk Metal: Not their primary style, but they could still be considered adjacent to the genre since their music has a lot of influence from Romanian folk music.
  • Instrumentals: "Norilor" and the two "acoustic versions" on Măiestrit are just three examples.
  • Jerkass: It has been alleged that Negru effectively deceived the other two band members out of their position in the band. It's not clear whether this actually happened, however, and if it did, then judging from their eulogy on Dordeduh's Facebook page after his death, Hupogrammos and Sol Faur didn't seem to bear him any ill will over it.
  • Lead Drummer: Negru had aspects of this, as he tended to be the member of the band who interacted most with the press, and until his death, he was the only constant member of the band. The band didn't credit individual songwriters, so it's difficult to know who wrote what, but due to the continuity in sound between albums, it's reasonable to conclude that he was at least partially responsible for writing and arranging most of the band's songs, and his background in academia is certainly reflected in the band's lyrics, so one can conclude he probably wrote a lot of them. (At the same time, the similar continuity in sound between Om and Dordeduh's material suggests that Hupogrammos and Sol Faur contributed to the writing and arrangement process when they were in the band as well.) His technical skill as a drummer was also important to their sound in a genre that is technically demanding of drummers to begin with. Negru was so important to the band that they ultimately chose to break up after his death (though several surviving members did reconvene under a different band name, much as surviving members of Windir did after Valfar's death).
  • Lighter and Softer: While they never abandoned black metal, their sound did get somewhat less claustrophobic as they began incorporating more Romanian folk influence into their music, so Om is lighter than 'n crugu bradului, and Vîrstele pămîntului is lighter than Om. They accomplished this without any trace of selling out, however.
  • Live Album: Focul viu.
  • Loudness War: Like a lot of acts on Code 666, their masters got clipped badly. Blood Music's LP reissues of Inarborat kosmos and Om avert this trope: they're still pretty loud (in fact, Blood Music's vinyl pressing of Om is louder than Enucleation's earlier one), but unlike with earlier LP releases of this band, the masters are completely free of clipping.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The metal portions are usually a hard 9 to hard 10, but the quieter passages can dip as low as a 1.
  • New Sound Album: Măiastru sfetnic established their epic, Post-Rock influenced sound.
  • Post-Rock: To the extent that they're probably the primary Trope Codifier for the black metal / post-rock fusion that has become popular in recent years (not the Trope Makers, though — Weakling played it a couple years earlier, though their album lay on The Shelf of Movie Languishment for a couple of years before being released, and Fleurety predated both acts by a few years. Interestingly, an interviewer asked Negru about Dead of Dreams shortly after Măiastru sfetnic was released. He hadn't heard it then, but indicated an interest in listening to it and presumably did so later).
  • Progressive Metal: Another influence on their sound, though probably not as much as Black Metal and Post-Rock. However, they're still quite well liked on Prog Archives.
  • Pun-Based Title: Gînd a-prins, combined with a non-sexual Double Entendre. The spelling used for the EP title literally means something like Lost in Thought or Caught in Thought. However, aprins means inflamed or, metaphorically, intense, so the album title has a second meaning of Intense Thought.
  • Rearrange the Song: A few examples:
    • Not satisfied with the production on Măiastru sfetnic, they re-recorded the entire album. They threw on mostly acoustic renditions of two of the songs as bonus tracks.
    • "Wordless Knowledge" was re-recorded for Om in a different arrangement with Romanian lyrics as "Înarborat" (strangely, since "Cunoașterea tăcută" is the title that corresponds to "Wordless Knowledge"), and "Uprising Follow" was similarly re-arranged as "Dedesuptul".
    • Focul viu doesn't mess too much with the arrangements of songs, but some of them are shortened and a few are performed as medleys. The album is nearly ninety minutes long; if it included complete performances of every song in the setlist, it would run for almost two hours. Given the quality of the band's performance, it might be rather churlish to complain about the abridgements.
  • Revolving Door Band: Just look on Wikipedia to see how many people have been members of the band over the years.
  • Rock Trio: Not anymore, but the best known and best loved lineup of the band was this.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: They use this a lot, especially on 'n crugu bradului and Om.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Inia Dinia played keyboards for them for awhile and is pictured in the packaging of Vîrstele pămîntului. Diana Karban (Hupogrammos' sister) also played keyboards live with them for awhile.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Like many other folk-influenced black metal bands, they alternate the harsh vocals typical of the genre with soulful clean singing.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Romanian language's accents frequently cause tagging difficulties with their songs, albums, and even their name itself.
    • The most common problem concerns the letters ș and ț (s-comma and t-comma), which are only used in the Romanian and (in the latter case) Livonian alphabets and, for whatever reason, are not supported by many media players (they were added somewhat late to the Unicode standard, but "somewhat late" here means 1999, so this isn't really an excuse). They're frequently erroneously replaced with ş and ţ (s-cedilla and t-cedilla), which look similar (in some fonts, almost indistinguishable), but the cedilla extends to the letter rather than being detached from it as the comma is. The cedilla characters are, inexplicably, much more widely supported than the comma characters are; one possible cause is that s-cedilla and t-cedilla are in Latin Extended-A, while s-comma and t-comma are in Latin Extended-B.
    • The letter ă also sometimes causes difficulties; a glitch in the wiki software here is the cause of its omission from the title of this very article (it would routinely revert to the HTML code for the letter, ă, rather than ă).
    • The fewest problems come from â and î, which are part of the Latin-1 Supplement (U+0080 to U+00FF) in large part since they also appear in much more widely spoken languages like French.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Sur Austru, formed by members Ovidiu Corodan, Petrică Ionuţescu, and Tibor Kati and ex-member Stefan Zaharescu after Gabriel Mafa's death. Their debut album is evidently slated for release in 2019.
    • Dordeduh also qualifies now after Mafa's death, depending upon one's interpretation; see Start My Own below.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Om has several spoken word sections, notably at the beginning.
  • Start My Own: After the drama caused by the band's Creative Differences, Hupogrammos and Sol Faur created their own project called Dordeduh. Many fans regard this band's work as the true successor material to Om, though honestly, both bands sound pretty similar to each other and dissimilar from almost anyone else - after all, how many other bands are out there combining Black Metal, Progressive Metal, Post-Rock, and Romanian folk music?
  • Subdued Section: Nearly every song starting with Măiastru sfetnic has at least one of these.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: The two "acoustic versions" on Măiestrit, and some of the other instrumentals.
  • Title by Number: 'n crugu bradului titles its four tracks "I", "II", "III", and "IIII". "IIII" is nonstandard for Roman numerals in modern usage (it's usually "IV"), but it's still seen occasionally (most commonly, on clock faces), and was actually used quite commonly in ancient Rome. Fanon sometimes gives these songs alternate parenthetical titles corresponding to the Romanian names of the seasons (Primăvară, Vară, Toamnă, and Iarnă, meaning Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter; each song does correspond to the respective season associated with it), and Metal Archives lists the following alternate titles (English translations in parentheses), apparently of the band's devising, though the source is unclear:
    • I - Poartă-a vîntului... (The Wind's Gate...)
    • II - Cătră șipotu dă piatră... (Towards the Well of Stone...)
    • III - Colo-n jos către apus (Down There to the Twilight)
    • IIII - În pădure urlă lupii (Wolves Are Calling in the Forest)
  • Uncertain Doom: Was a case after Mafa's death until the surviving band members announced the dissolution of the band after roughly a year of radio silence. Fans have speculated that the third album of the planned Transilvanian Trilogy may have been at least partially written and/or recorded at the time of Negru's death, but it's still not clear whether the band members plan to finish it as a tribute to him (several surviving members have formed a new project entitled Sur Austru, and it's possible they will rework some of it under this name), release it in demo/unfinished state, or simply shelve it.
  • Uncommon Time: Like any good Progressive Metal band, they use this at times. For instance, "Întoarcerea amurgului" has a section in 11/8 (3+3+3+2/8).
  • Widget Series: Due to the complexity of their music and their strange melodies, they're a particularly relevant example in a genre filled with Widget Series bands.

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