Like the translation of their band's name, Negură Bunget's shadowy folk metal creeps out of the forest like a black fog. On ZI – the middle entry of their "Transilvanian Trilogy" – the Romanian collective blends ornate instrumentation with blackened riffs colder than a Carpathian winter. In "Gradina Stelelor" they balance blastbeats with surprising groove and dense atmospherics. Later, the airy eeriness of "Brazda Da Foc" slips into the the triumphant shredding of "Baciu Mosneag." If its place smack-dab in the middle of a trilogy didn't tip you off, ZI is an ambitious endeavor that rewards the adventurers strolling through its wooded vastness.
As the album's most restrained composition, "Stanciu Gruiul" foregoes menace for warm melodies and breezy balladry. Its accompanying video lands somewhere between hallucination and hypnosis, an appropriate screensaver for both the moonlit introduction and the somber stomp of the track's finale. To me, it felt like adopting the POV of one of Sam Raimi's Candarian demons.
Stream the video below and weave through the woods in search of a body to possess. Afterwards, check out thoughts on the band's trilogy from Negura Bunget drummer/multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Mafa (AKA Negru). After your soul belongs to the woods forever, pre-order ZI from Prophecy Productions before its release on September 30th.
How does the "Stanciu Gruiul" video relate to the song's lyrical theme or narrative?
Gabriel Mafa: The videos do not relate directly with the lyrics of the music but with the essence that was manifested through the song production. Of course watching them you can construct your own story, and make your own personal connections. We’ve never been into presenting a contract story on our music, lyrics, or videos; we always leave it open at a certain level. Even for different people in the band things have different meanings, and I think that’s the charm.
As the second part of a trilogy, do you consider this album transitional in form? How do you foresee the trilogy concluding in its finale?
Mafa: For us the album stands firm on its own. Each part of the trilogy is different, we never wanted to mingle all parts into a single one, but rather develop each independently and have them offer in the end different complementary perspectives on the in the trilogy concept – Transilvania. Of course everything had to fit with the overall trilogy concept, but being it such a generous subject that was not in any way a limitation.
As for the final part of the trilogy, that was the key from the beginning. The idea is to crown the trilogy with this final part. It’s the most difficult one to approach, as it deals with spiritual matters, but I think we’ll find the right key to express it. Originally we were thinking this part would be the most atmospheric and unitary one in terms of musical expression, but we already put a lot of that on ZI, somehow unexpectedly, so there might be some new developments with the last part too. Only time will tell. We are already in the mindset of this, the ZI album is already in the past, although it’s not even released yet, haha. I’m sure we are set for some twists ourselves, but we’re looking forward to finish the trilogy.
Pre-order ZI now, then walk through the nearest woods with the album on headphones to create your own POV adventure.