Negura Bunget

Transylvanian mystics transfix Tufnell Park

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Blurring the line between black and death metal, and with a strong Eastern twang to the riffing, you could be forgiven for thinking of Behemoth while listening to NORTHERN PLAGUE [7], even if the visuals are black shirts and bare faces instead of the demonic visuals of their more famous countrymen.

They’re fast and brutal, with a sense of menace and purpose emanating from the body language that heightens the impact of the songs and raises your inclination to move. Plus the synchronised windmilling is pulled off with style. It’s good fun.

Tonight, the Romanian headliners are such a totally different beast that the mood shift as soon as the intro track, Ceasuri Rele, begins is palpable. A sense of darkness and earthiness falls over the room that has nothing to do with lighting, stage dressing or odour (Watain with a botanical bent, this band is not). It’s a sense that only becomes more intense once the aural fog of Cunoașterea Tăcută signals the start of the show proper, at which point the full hypnotic power of NEGURă BUNGET [8] takes over. There is no period with which the band need to draw you in and capture your attention, the honesty of the performance and the mesmeric power of their dense black metal proving far too engaging to resist. In part this is down to the feel and visible passion the band show onstage, coming across as unusually genuine, destroying any sense of detachment that might otherwise be created by such ethereal music. But it’s also hard not to be involved with some of the more unusual sights – from the 10-foot long horn played by Negru, to the toaca – a flat, vertical wood block hanging from a frame – that accompanies the mass drums in the percussive Norilor. Add to that the songs at their disposal, from the flawless masterpieces of Om to the new songs (Nămetenie sounds particularly rich and atmospheric), and the uniqueness of character that they present, and you’re left with a sense of watching something special. The crowd tonight is respectable if not huge, but those who are here are fixated on what they see.