Music Reviews, Vinyl Reviews

Dordeduh – Har (LP, 2021)

It’s been a while…almost 9 years since their debut LP. It is not that the band was into hiatus, it just some natural way of life in between. Raising children or getting married are just to name a few of those life happenings that occurs in normal circumstances in a man’s life.
In all this time the core band’s duo was active more in the background with music related activities & live performances from time to time. It is also a known fact that the band has its own studio and that it helps other bands as producers, or helping with live events, lights and sound on stages, with logistics and hands-on activities for the metal scene.

It’s that the Covid crisis had also an important impact, indeed, subtracting one whole year or more from the active times with music, the one that is most enjoyed live, in great festivals.

With some prior preparation in 2019 the band filmed an anniversary show, which was intended for a release. I think that all the meta aspects of the planned release were set ready that year, the band embarking in studio in early 2020 for the actual recording of the album.

With all this background details, going to “Har” the new album release, we can say it offers some surprises. At a first listen of the album, I can argue that this is an evolutionary step in the band’s life. And that the overall vibe of the album is fresh and more stylistically dynamic as maybe one was expecting. Has illuminating spaces juxtaposed with brief harsher, furiously guitars and gutturals and adorned with atmospheric parts.

Stylistic there is a departure from the pagan like black metal of Negura end even from their debut “Dar de Duh”. We hear a modern approach yet in a hard to categorize style, the music can be tagged as: progressive metal with world and ambient elements. World elements are derived from that modern-sounding now, stylistic adornments that they are still rooted in the Romanian areal, to that spiritual space, very specific, maybe unique. Indeed the Romanian lyrics are again a powerful aspect, and generally aims to a spiritual fulfillment, a journey towards peace with oneself and the world. But also a bit of resentment, giving up the fight. “Art is rebelling against the fate of man” when that is over, we are carried on the waves of life, with no opposition. “Har” sits around this dual space of rebelling yet let yourself carried on, tired of fighting, to the actual wave of life that reveals itself and we can’t do much, we are small.

Overall a bold stylistic statement but it is a successful one, a release that pushes the boundaries, both musically and conceptually, regardless of the music style, making it a great listening experience.

Maybe one of the most important aspects sound-wise is that this time the band handed both the mixing and mastering to another pair of good ears: Jens Bogren’s. This has very much to do with the arrangements and final sweet spot that was added to the sound. Indeed sound-wise this album has a sweeter spot than the former records like “OM” and “Dar De Duh.” While the former are rawer and harsher, this one is just there, more actual, as the current production styles of big bands.

The recorded live anniversary show from 2019 was also released with the “Har” album, in the form of CD/DVD for the special 3 CD art-book edition. So there is plenty of material to enjoy on this release.

The double LP release of “Har” is in two variants, gold (limited) and standard black (no limitation info). The quality of the pressing is fantastic, because of the double LP the tracks had space to breathe. At 2 tracks per side, there is no compromise, no thin sound, no distortion.
At the time of the release and of this writing the gold edition vinyl is already sold-out. There is also the standard digipak CD and artbook 3 CD edition. Official release date 14th of May 2021, by Prophecy Rec. ( (c) C. Stefan, 13th May 2021)

Music Reviews, Vinyl Reviews

Sorgnatt – Drăculea’s Dungeon (LP/vinyl)

Sorgnatt Draculea's Dungeon
Sorgnatt’s approach of a dungeon black metal influenced album, keeping their DSBM too.

Sorgnatt’s LP vinyl is here, available at the label and the band. With the release of their single Up The Mountain Shadow a couple of years back, we got some hints of what the development on the new LP would be. Now we have the LP in our hands, and we can add a bit of what to expect and what its meaning serves.
It is released in 24.03.2021 as a limited black LP. Limited means a run of 104, numbered edition, it came in seal, and has a red insert attached to it. The quality of the vinyl itself is great, shiny black, the pressing was done well, with mastering at Cruel Sound Works. The weight of the vinyl is around 150g. Standard vinyl cover, with side writing & black inner.
An album that gives you a bit of a different kick – the Romanian album with a dungeon approach. From that kind of obscure atmospherics to some intended lo-fi production & synth parts. A versatile style, the album has many facets – there is even some folklore inspired track, much to be discovered in the 9 tracks. And seeing the release from a broader view, it can represent a starting point on the local scene, for more dungeon inspired black metal – a very rare, yet maybe non-existent genre on the Carpathian realm itself, until now. A conceptual album dedicated to the better known emblem of most of the black metal scene in general, of the last decades indeed – His myth, even an originator of the new wave black metal which seems is still among us: Dracula, Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, Drăculea to name it his quite a few names. This album is only released on vinyl, the proper medium for such a concept, that does nothing but to add to his raw beauty, with every spin.

Tracks:
A
To the Castle
Up the Mountain Shadow
Wallachian Funeral
Into the Forest of the Impaled
Vlad’s Sleeping Dragon

B
Mi-am Gasit Hodina
The Dungeon to Abyss
When Night Began to Fall
Transylvanian Blood Ritual

Preview / Buy: ancientbeliefs.bandcamp.com
Mastering: Cruel Sound Works
Producer: Sorgnatt & C. Stefan
Labels: Ancient Beliefs & EM.

Music Reviews

Nordvargr – Awaken (CD)

Nordvargr – Awaken

WTF: weird tautological fibrillation, aka. great dark music”
Ancient Beliefs rating 10/10 (genre: Post Black Metal, Dark Ambient)

01 Awaken 04:24
02 Cellardweller 05:00
03 Kretslopp 08:14
04 Lament 02:46
05 Natt 06:16
06 Hascimh 04:04
07 Sulphur Mist 07:01
08 Seeds Of Blood (Act 1-1) 16:51

* Eibon Rec. & Code666 Rec. 2002
* Swe Avantgarde Darkwave Ambiental
* Significance: One of the most important dark ambient releases.

Continue reading “Nordvargr – Awaken (CD)”

Music Reviews

Negura Bunget – Zirnindu-sa (CD)

Negura Bunget – Zirnindu-sa

“Probably the first good atmospheric black metal full length Romania’s”

* Bestial Records MC 1996, Breath Of Night CD 1998
* Romanian Black Metal
* Significance: The first outstanding Romanian black metal release. Atmospheric rude yet melodic with archaic lyrics.

Ancient Beliefs rating 10/10 (genre: Black Metal)

This album still remains for me the most preeminent release of Negura Bunget. Recorded in twenty hours the result it is a direct, pure black metal effort, one of my favorite release of the genre.

Continue reading “Negura Bunget – Zirnindu-sa (CD)”

Music Reviews

Negura Bunget – Maiastru Sfetnic (CD)

Negura Bunget – Maiastru Sfetnic (Ro / Bestial Rec. 2000) – Black Metal.

* Bestial Records 2000
* Romanian Black Metal
* Significance: The most dim-dark NB release.

Ideology: 10/10; Style & Sound: 9.5/10

This is a release of maturity, a new scale towards artistic fulfillment. A line to fit a certain shape: black metal art in unique approach – a step forward close to that “Universal Transcendent Concept of Black Metal\” – to quote Negru. And it is indeed by means of both musical and ideologically.

Continue reading “Negura Bunget – Maiastru Sfetnic (CD)”

Music Reviews

The best DorDeDuh & Negura Bunget albums ranking

In essence all the albums are excellent, you should listen and own them all!

This is a very subjective attempt: to make the album ranking of the Romanian Negura Bunget and Dordeduh. I try to put my little contribution here, but beforehand, please excuse me that I am not including the Negura Bunget’s post “Om” albums in the list. I am following the original member “Huppogramos Disciple’s”‘s artistic path up to “Har” with Dordeduh. The other albums from the mentioned bands are all also very interesting and worth checking.

First, some piece of history in a picture:

While I am with them since the first Negura Bunget album and I know all the material very good, I consider this kind of ranking to be somewhat not fair: it is a very tight one, every album is excellent, worth listening 100%. The differences are in small details, maybe more technical, and ranking is again, biased by my subjectivity and from what I got to know over the years from the band itself.

Starting with the last in the ranking.

11. Negura Bunget – Sala Molksa / Promo 98 (Mini Album, 1998)
Going directly to music, this album was a great one back in the day, a one of akind on the local scene, with peculiar compositions a bit of different black metal we were used to. Downside: too short. Why not one of the best? I think because it seemed to stretch a bit too much to a more experimental black metal side (much different from the debut, “Zirnindu-sa”). It was the first effort of the band to go that path – a progressive way within black metal, much closer to the likes of Emperor, Enslaved intricacies, more unpredictable.
I see it more as a test album, a path finding attempt. With this mini album we have some technical issues too. I remember there was also a small audio glitch on the CD version (manufacturing issue). And actually the “Promo ’98” cassette has the same audio material as the release, in the form of CD named then “Sala Molksa”. With some naming differences, for ex. the track named “Vint da rau” on CD is actually an ending part of one of the main tracks, and was “outro” named on the Promo cassette.

10. Wiccan Rede – From Transylvanian Forests (Demo post-Negura, 1995)
Wiccan Rede is the pre-Negura band with the starting duo Negru and Huppogramos (and Aiwazz on this release only.) The album came out as a Demo cassette that included only 6 tracks. This was later released as cassette and CD with 2 additional tracks (tracks taken from rehearsal session in March 2000).
Musically this demo album is a nice one, it carries with him the black metal demo aura of that time, with a good resemblance of Emperor’s Wrath of the Tyrant demo. This one just a bit more clear in production, yet great compositions and good harsh vocals (were certainly the best ones, maybe the only black metal ones in that time on the Romanian scene.) Speaking of production, on this album the guitars are very thin at places, a sign of lo-fi recording equipment, and maybe an effect of a lack of experience and instruments – that was the status of the most of the bands then. This album post-Negura makes the way to the Negura Bunget’s journey. It includes also tracks that were re-recorded for the Negura’s debut album “Zîrnindu-să”.

9. Makrothumia – The Rit Of Individuation (Album, 1997)
The side project now (see Transceatla) but a main project then, with Huppogramos and Negru colleagues in the band with 7(!) members in total. This album is a great doom/death metal oriented album. Spiritual , philosophic and musically a bit of a jewel that still remains to be re-discovered with the Transceatla project and its attempt to re-record those demos. Transceatla performed live a couple of times but no releases so far.

8. Negura Bunget – Inarborat Cosmos (Mini Album, 2005)
This mini album was the first to be recorded in their own studio and with Negru having a better drum kit (hand made cymbals from renowned traditional brands) and in general a far better production/potential here. And it was a great “test”, the tracks were special at that time, was like everything taken to a new level. I prefer the tracks production a bit more here than the production on the main album “Om.”
Although only a mini album the four main tracks are very powerful, very organic. To note that this marked also a beginning of a broader recognition of the band, with a period of intense touring. A…and it also contained some live video material.

7. Negura Bunget – ‘n Crugu’ Bradului (Album, 2002)
The first album that departed from the black metal exclusive compositions. Has a solid atmospheric aura. Album that benefits from a better production but still a bit dry. It also departs the ancient “cucuteni” thematic and embarks in mystic symbolism & Romanian proto-folk dialectics, a conceptually approach that still echoes into these days to “Har” album for example.
The album has 4 tracks, for number 4 significance’s. Nevertheless, this album in my opinion was always a 5 tracks album, with Vazduh the fifth track (originally only as video on the CD released) a part of it – it was a way to better visuals (first Romanian black metal videoclip on tv music channels), a better production design, a more interesting packaging approach.

6. Sunset in the 12th House – Mozaic (Album, 2015)
The post-rock album of the duo after forming Dordeduh. But this is mainly a non-verbal album. An album to flow with, very little words needed.

5. Negura Bunget – Zîrnindu-să (Album, 1997)
Personally I appreciate the debut album a lot, it surpasses the production of the former Wiccan Rede demo and possibly some later material, with it being a straight, in full-force black metal a bit raw but tamed with keyboards (a bit taboo at that time with black metal albums). The keyboards managed to really help and added a new dimension by just being on background and fill some spots. Great debut!
Vocals both harsh and clean are on spot. Forceful vocals that even Hupogrammos accepts it is very hard to reproduce them again these days (maybe that’s why no Zîrnindu-să tracks live!)

4. Negura Buget – Om (Album, 2006)
By many the top Negura album, this is indeed very complex and a peak in the Negura’s career in which all the former efforts concluded: from the production to the compositions. Tracks with atmosphere combined with a progressive metal approach and black metal. Also with better defined Romanian folk elements, less archaic as in “n’ Crugu Bradului” and with a perfect match from Drimus’ craft. This was preceded by the “Inarborat Cosmos” mini album.

3. Negura Bunget – Maiastru Sfetnic / Maiestrit (Album 2000 / re-mix & re-master 2010)
This was a blown away experience, the most psychedelic for black metal-ers experience with Negura Bunget. A mixture of ‘n Crugu Bradului, with very obscure and with shaman’s flagellation chants and incantations (don’t think that existed such a thing.) This album is about death in a most primitive ancient envisioning, chanted in an unspoken language (and no lyrics available).
The production of the original black case CD tends to be rather dry but with a very nice mix for this case, that gives the album a unique aura. The drums are channeled somehow, they’re like in a tube recording session, but with a more diverse and beautiful percussive passages, that really puts Negru’s talent into light. Negru’s drumming is leading, by timing and melody too, his drumming was also unique (although he got drum lessons, he’s got his own way of doing it, our first black metal drummer overall!) Guitars again on top, with changing lines, even with proto-solos and some unorthodox uses. I think this was the band (trio: Negru, Huppogramos, Sol Far) at it’s fullest cohesion. I wonder what was at that time the inspiration to create this album?

The re-mastered version ads more color to this album and even though is ok as it adds better guitars and production, it is not that significant in its intrinsic quality, event with the two acoustic tracks/reinterpretations. The beauty of this album is in its obscurity and ever-twisted “melodies”, it’s otherworldly and out of this world placement.
The 2 bonus tracks (which are acoustic) makes a connection maybe to the times to come (to Dordeduh mainly) as these were the last tracks being recorded under Negura Bunget as the trio, with Negru. I mean these were the last that were also officially released. I remember there was also a track (a rehearsal, not released) meant to have a final form and appear on the next album of Negura (after “Om”) but that never happened with the trio – nevertheless, eventually it was recorded with a new drummer and it appeared on “Dar De Duh”.)

2. Dordeduh – Dar de duh (Album, 2012)
The “debut” album of the new project after the non-mutual “termination” of the Negura Bunget band. The termination was not fulfilled by Negru, as he wanted to continue under the Negura Bunget name, and it continued up until his death (band exists in a diluted way even beyond that time*).
I am very attached to this album, can be called debut but of course it isn’t, it can be seen as a new name of the path. Conceptually it takes a more and more universal world spiritual approach and I think the music comes good with it, with less and less “occult” black metal. It has a lot to discover and appreciate and it is a strong album that also goes live well. After Om maybe all expected a better one, well for me it is. The only thing that maybe was a bit too much…read here. This was preceeded by the Valea Omului EP, which was a teaser of the “new” band.

1. Dordeduh – Har (Album, 2021)
This album closes the journey in this article. It is rare to say that only after a few listens this album is on top. It is on top because of some aspects. Like every album of theirs, every one is a step, a culmination. I believe “Har” is a culmination of all the aspects of the members journey (only a duo now) of their spiritual approach to music, ever growing towards inner peace (with an even more universal meaning) and a culmination of musical skills and the production (that very actual, fresh sound, with a sweet spot unveiled by another mastering engineer).

Misc., Vinyl Reviews

NFT Space – NFT Kings Of Leon (Vinyl)

Overview:

Platforms
OpenSea on Ethereum

History of the NFT album by Kings Of Leon (2021) as vinyl token.

NFT id purchase #8xx

OpenSea.io has listed it for sale
CoinBase 0x08cbdace521203cb46b55ec77f834b541fc76cf1 – initial buy with 53$ + 60$ Ether Gas fees
Redeem only on
MetaMask: 0x8d79084caf5f0e749e569274b9cdae111ea634be – transfer NFT to MetaMask: 18$ Ether Gas fees

Transaction: https://etherscan.io/tx/0xb5b4e62bf76031f0e0537edfd0d500f9f524f3c25cbe8c792a66d1849d1345bd

Erc721 Token Txns of https://etherscan.io/token/0x6d8cc2d52de2ac0b1c6d8bc964ba66c91bb756e1

https://ethgasstation.info/

Token NFT Yourself
Overview [ERC-721]
Max Total Supply: 2,451 KLNFT
Holders: 2,130 (07.03.2021) – closing 19.03. Token NFT Yourself Overview [ERC-721] Max Total Supply: 5,550 KLNFT Holders: 4,685 Transfers: 5,941

Help: https://discord.com/channels/816780447966298132/817220291570302988
Vinyl redemption will be at a later date, after album nft sale ends in 2 weeks and they press the vinyls, could be up to 3 months. When you can redeem for vinyl you will be able to put in delivery address. Only the person/wallet the nft is in at the time vinyl redemption goes live will be able to redeem for the vinyl.

Limited Editions
-Unsold Limited Edition NFTs will be burned after the sales period.

VINYL
-Vinyl redemption will begin after the sale ends on March 18th. (Http://yellowheart.io/)
-Whoever holds the token in their wallet when the vinyl becomes available will be able to redeem it for the vinyl.
-Vinyl redemption will be the same flow as digital download with the addition of shipping information and instructions.
-One vinyl will be made for each NFT sold and no more.
-Shipping will be free within the US. Shipping outside of the US can be paid with a credit card upon redemption. The token must be redeemed within a year.
-All tokens must be redeemed within a year of purchase.

Digital Album

  • Redemption of the mp3 is a one time thing.
    -After the mp3 token has been redeemed once it cannot be downloaded for that token again.
    -Token IDs are listed on the redemption page so that everyone can see if the NFT they are buying has been redeemed already or not.
    -The band and YellowHeart may decide to give token holders future perks, redeemable or other benefits to being a token holder in the future.