NEGURĂ BUNGET present their breath-taking swansong "Zău" to the world. This captivating, deep, and multi-layered final part of the Romanian's "Transylvanian trilogy" was hanging by a thread. When the creative mastermind and driving force behind NEGURĂ BUNGET, drummer Gabriel "Negru" Mafa suffered a terminal heart-attack on March 21, 2017 his tragic passing seemed to dictate that his grand vision of a metal-anchored musical interpretation of Romania's beautiful landscapes, traditions, and myths as well as his homeland's spiritually was doomed to remain as unfinished as Beethoven's 10th symphony. Yet the veteran musicians that had been with Negru in the final incarnation of NEGURĂ BUNGET's ever-changing line-up were not prepared to give up let his vision slip into unheard obscurity. By sheer luck, Negru's drum tracks for "Zău" had already been laid down and recorded before the band's final tour. All the sketches, demos, and rehearsal room recordings that they had been working on were painstakingly gathered, and each band member respectfully filled in the gaps in the same way as they would have done with the remaining co-founder of NEGURĂ BUNGET still alive; in utter dedication to the original idea. The result of this labour of love is "Zău", the stunning culmination and climax of NEGURĂ BUNGET's musical evolution and the "Transylvanian trilogy". On this album, the traditions of black and dark pagan metal have been completely fused with elements from Romania's rich musical heritage. Rich textures and epic cinematic passages make way for fragile and tranquil moments to be superseded by furious outbreaks. Just like the ever changing nature of Romania's Banat and Transylvania, "Zău" captures the colours and moods of the turn of the seasons in these lands and brings ancient legends to live. Formed in the city of Timișoara in the Banat region of Western Romania in in 1995 by Negru and guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player Edmond‘ Hupagrammos’ Karban. NEGURĂ BUNGET's band name is derived from ancient Romanian meaning a "dark, misty forest”, and it proved to be the defining legacy for 2002’s "'n crugu bradului" – an album that became the bridge between the band’s orthodoxy - shedding past and unchartered territory into which they would head next. The following album "OM" (2006) brought NEGURĂ BUNGET into the international spotlight and put Romania onto the global map of metal. After the recording of "Maestrit" – a re-imagining of "Măiastru sfetnic" that was finished in 2009, an irrevocable, acrimonious split ended the collaboration of Negru and Hupogrammos, who went on to form DORDEDUH with Sol Faur and then bassist Arioch. Negru continued with a much changed line-up, when NEGURĂ BUNGET re-emerged in 2010 with the full-length, "Vîrstele Pămîntului". Again, there was a striking level of continuity despite the many changes. Although NEGURĂ BUNGET released a follow-up EP, "Poartă de dincolo" in 2011, it would be a further four years before the band re-invented itself for the final time – still with Negru at the helm but again with a completely new line-up. NEGURĂ BUNGET drummer, remaining co-founder, and creative force, Gabriel "Negru" Mafa embarked on a trilogy of albums, starting with "Tau" (2015), that would form, as he put it at the time: "… a personal vision of what Transylvania means." While the eight tracks of "Tău" were each aligned to a specific landscape, the second part of the trilogy beckoned with lush, expansive dynamics. "Zi" (2016) ranged from lucid tranquil moments to harsh and gnarled parts. On this penultimate album, NEGURĂ BUNGET drew strongly from local musical traditions based on the theme of the spirituality of places. With the final chapter of the "Transylvanian trilogy", NEGURĂ BUNGET take several steps back into blacker and harsher dimensions. With all the strands finally coming together, the resulting music is so much more than just a summary of its parts. Zău" is NEGURĂ BUNGET's lasting testament and legacy and a fitting tribute to Gabriel "Negru" Mafa, R.I.P., who will live on forever in this music.
[The text above contains edited excerpts from an in-depth essay written by eminent UK journalist Jonathan Selzer that is fully printed in the artbook edition of "Zău".]