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).