NEGURA BUNGET Into Transylvanian Spirituality

Romanian star waltz of black metal spirituality Negura Bunget have released the second part of their ambitious Transylvanian Trilogy entitled Zi, the album which is sure to enter my year’s end list. Here is what they had to say about it…

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Greetings Negura and welcome to the pages of Metal Sound! How are you doing these days?

Greetings to you too, these days we were touring Romania and stated our European tour. We are energetic and focused and glad to be on this journey.

The second installment in your Transylvanian trilogy entitled Zi is in front of us, so how do you compare this album with its predecessor Tau?

Transilvania is a very powerful source of inspiration for us and the first part “Tau” focused on places, nature and legends the second part “Zi” focused on people, old traditions and rituals. At a conceptual level there is a different theme that has different approach that we tried to capture musically speaking.

I would say that Zi is a bit standard Negura styled, there are no surprises like Împodobeala timpului from Tau. What would you say about this statement, how do you see the musical direction of the album?

We don’t plan things to go one direction or other, and even if we have a general concept, while working on the album we followed our instincts. I wouldn’t say ZI is a standard Negura kind of album since our albums are kind of different all from each other, but rather that we tried to keep this approach, and change again quite a lot of elements. Even if you might not hear this, there are lots of details on ZI that are completely different than our past albums. But those are details, not whole tracks like the Impodobeala you mentioned.

Zi is word for “day” or “say” so can you please try to explain to us the concept of this title, how are those two words linked together in one?

We enjoy this game of words at a semantic level and prefer that our listeners to choose what meaning connect to better. ZI in Romania has double meaning but it also connects to our intention: it the “day”, a symbol for light (Zi is the most luminescent album we ever did) and it also mean “say” the second part of the trilogy is symbolized by “word” after the first one was by “thought”.

The lyrics deals with traditions of Transylvanian people and how this connection with nature shapes their beliefs. Can you please give us some detailed insight into these subjects?

The lyrics have an English translation, we thank our good friend Astrid that has done a very great job with that. We have on this album 6 tracks very different from an ideological point of view but also musically, converging to create a bigger picture. It begins with Tul-ni-ca-rind (Horn-ing) – a song about funeral rituals, announcing a passage from this world to the other world, but also connecting people, Gradina Stelelor (Gardens of the stars) – about the connection with the land, about being where you are meant to be and understanding our place and purpose, Baciu Mosneag (The Old Shepherd) – it’s about the lost wisdom of the past, about the celebration of the ancestors, the connection between the members of the society and the universe,  Brazda Da Foc (Furrow of Fire) –  about the customs concerning the working of the land, especially one called “first ploughing”, meant to ensure a rich crop, Stanciu Gruiul (Stanciu Gruiul) – it is about a legend figure, a hero representing the masculine universal force that moves things into action, celebrating the courage and struggling, overpassing the challenges on your path and the connection with the nature and the universe where man find his rightful place,  Marea Cea Mare (The Vast Sea) – it’s the first track we ever did working with another band. It was our friends from Thy Veils. One of the most atmospheric and profound songs, it also make somehow the transition to the next album.

While we are at it, have you perhaps travelled to rural landscapes to get the inspiration for Zi, maybe even performed some rituals with the old folk?

For this album we did a lot of research and use symbols, legends and customs in a hermeneutic manner, transforming the actual content of the folklore element into metaphoric universal content.  It is a personal approach both musically and ideologically. We did a lot of travel but mainly on nature and some isolated places from Transilvania. But all these rituals are close to us on a personal level, even some are lost for a long time in the local communities.

I have one observation to make – I really love to listen to your band in nature surroundings with nothing but music and woods to be my companion. Do you perhaps practice the same, or maybe even compose in such environment?

The atmosphere is always important and can make you feel things certain way. Yes, we enjoy very much nature but what we intend to do with our endeavor is to bring nature close to the listeners and “see” things with the heart and feel music with the soul that connect us as individuals.

Zi marks 20th anniversary of the band and I would say that the album features all the elements you have dealt with in the past. Was it done on purpose, how do you see it?

I didn’t intend to do things in a certain way. I had a general idea but while turning the idea into practice, the results is sometimes a surprise. No that you mention that, indeed it may seem like that.

Negura has often done some special EPs in the past, are you perhaps planning to do the same in the future around the time of Zi?

We plan to release in 2018 the final part of the trilogy. We feel very focus and eager to work on the next part of the trilogy. So no EP’s thing time.

The last installment of the trilogy is already announced for early 2018, have you perhaps started to compose it and what do you think, how will it sound like?

Actually we have some ideas but of course the music will be around the concept of spirituality of these lands.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Om, the album which is universally hailed as your best and the point that destroyed the original line up on the other hand. How do you recall the time of this album and how do you see it today?

Om had good public and critics’ appreciation but all of that didn’t come out of nowhere, we had several albums before Om that prepared somehow the way for Om release. Looking back I can see now that success is not easy to deal with and may unbalance things and drive to misunderstandings.  However it is an important step forward for us as a band and we are keep on doing our best.

Negura has always seemed to me more like society than simple band, a group of people who share similar spiritual beliefs. How would you comment upon this situation?

I wouldn’t go so far as society I’d rather say family working together for a common purpose.

You have played often in Serbia throughout the years so there is no denying that you have special bond with our country. What is your most precious memory from here?

Yes, we enjoy playing in Serbia and we connect to the people very easy. I would say that my memory concerning Serbia is always connected to the people, their kindness and direct way of feeling and understanding. The very first gig we did there was with the guys from The Stone, who also helped us with the last gig we did just a few days ago. During all these years we played and toured together many times.

The tour has just started so what do you expect from it, and what are the other plans for near future?

We are currently touring Europe and we are planning next year an Asia and US tour. As always we are eager for new experiences, meet old friends, make new ones, see some new places and perform our music day after day. There’s no greater feeling than doing that!

That would be all for this occasion, I would like to wish you all the best and thank you for this chat. Your last message to the fans…

Thank you for all the support over the years and see you at our concerts.

  • Questions by Slobodan Trifunovic