Yes the band name and album title may sound like a tots first attempt at speech but it is a name that if you are seriously into atmospheric blackened metal should certainly be on the tip of your tongue. We practically wept into our ale at the news that Negru of Negura Bunget had somewhat unceremoniously booted out long time collaborator Hupogrammos from the group but along with Sol Faur he may have been down but was certainly not out, quickly putting Dordeduh together. In fact there was a glimmer of hope that we may now have two very good bands rather than the one and breathed a collective sigh of relief when Negura Bunget brought out their rather fine follow up to ‘Om’ ‘Virstele Pamintuli’ in 2010. It took a while but finally we now have Dar De Duh so we can see if Dordeduh can retain the might and majesty of the former pre split Negura too, it was with some trepidation that play was first pressed.
Of course we should not have been too concerned although I had noted that this was going to be rather an epic affair as the album runs at a whopping 77 minutes with first track alone ‘Jind de tronuri’ weighing in at 16. This was certainly going to be an album that commanded complete attention and a fair few spins to get into.
Said track is indeed an immersive and massive experience; in a way I wonder if the last track would have been a more subtle opener especially as it stands out, is much more accessible and had been sent out as an introduction to the full length by the label. Still obviously the band know what they are doing and their narrative ‘yearning for the spirit’ can only be laid out as they intended. This is full of the mysticism and atmospheres one would expect from the Romanian bards, you would look on it as unique if you had not heard the aforementioned along with the likes of Wiccan Rede and the somewhat perplexing Din Brad before. Atmosphere builds around a pulsating and brooding keyboard sound and the traditional instruments are set up around massive choral chants. After a spoken word sentence in native tongue everything crashes in with power and poise and for those who love that sound of a block of wood (the Toacă) being tapped you will not be disappointed; indeed the varied percussive parts alone give plenty to focus on. Although there is lots going on you can relax and let the fantastic melodies ethereally swirl around, magically working their charm and listen to the ever changing vocal styles being employed. Things are every bit as bombastic and transcendental as you could really have hoped for the different styles working in perfect contrast with each other and really taking you on a massive trip. It is kind of like the modern and ancient worlds are meeting here and the collision of the two is really rather breathtaking. Just as you think you have this fathomed an excellent tribal sounding chanting passage comes in. I cannot help but think of Adam And The Ants ‘Ant Music’ if it had been Romanian here but obviously it is a very different time and place. Of course all this has just gone on in the first number.
This should give you a good foundation of what is to come and you still have another hour of fantastic sounds to discover here. To go through it all step by step would mean a review as massive (I keep coming back to the word) as the album. Those of you who loved Negura Bunget up to the split should be equally enthralled at this and will hear many nuances within the sound reminding you of them; it kind of solidifies just how damn important Hupogrammos was to the band. If you are looking for rage and big black pounding parts no worries, check out the full steam anger within ‘Flăcărarii’ this can hardly be looked on as quite the work of a bunch of tree hugging hippies.
At times you are so immersed in the past it can be shocking when more modern sounds are flung at you. Full on guitars with solos and chugging bass fly out the speakers as we move into ‘Calea rotjilor de foc. The gruff angry vocal parts enforce this and from the somewhat long and more tranquil preceding song we are in a very different place and one where danger seems to be lurking. The mournful pipe sound then comes up and greets like an old friend and this is another big epic number with a huge amount of gravity about it.
It is a huge journey and one with much to discover on your quest. At times like on Zuh it is a bit like the soundtrack to travelling through a large uncharted rainforest on a boys own adventure. I interpret the sudden yells as the cannibal attack but finally, oh so finally you come out maybe not unscathed but still alive at final track Dojană. I did find this one stands out and the excellent video clip is certainly worth finding. It is led by the call of the massive pipe instrument the Tulnic (think of the cover art of Filosofem) and its sound is mighty and will instantly be one that is unforgettable.
I am not going to say whether it is this or ‘Virstele Pamintuli’ which should be looked upon as the natural successor to the wondrous ‘Om.’ There is room for both in the universe and neither band should be dismissed or belittled as both have prospered in the wake of unfortunate circumstance. Dar De Duh is a fantastic album which constantly keeps you transfixed, even as it plays out now I had completely forgotten the call of the hammered dulcimer within the last number and am yet again blown away by the melodious uplifting vocal croon. This is true musical art and as good as you are going to find if you are prepared to immerse yourself into its somewhat daunting running time. The mark is fully justified considering the work that has gone into this, in fact I am having to beat myself up over not giving it an even higher score.
(9/10 Pete Woods)