“ Artist: Bucovina / Genre: Hard Rock & Metal / Label: Lupii Daciei Records / Release Date: 2006 „
Hailing from Romania and looking like three Bill Baileys hanging out with their younger, more sensible brother, Bucovina is one of the more curious Viking metal bands out there even if they're not necessarily in the top league with the likes of Bathory, Månegarm and Moonsorrow.
'Ceasul aducerii-aminte' is the band's only release so far, and it's a strong debut of folk-influenced Viking metal that benefits from its obscure locale in a similar way to equally isolated Faroe Islands band Týr. The comparison between these two bands is invited further by the emphasis on melody in the guitars and vocals, the latter of which possess a satisfying exotic air as Florin Tibu sings in true Viking style (with a hint of unintentionally stereotypical vampire accent thrown in) and occasionally supplements the singing with a black metal caw as the music increases in intensity.
Tibu and Bogdan Luparu don't churn out the most stunning or inventive guitar melodies ever heard in the genre, but they're certainly enjoyable, and especially prominent in the instrumentals 'Valea plangerii' and 'Napraznica goanna,' the first of which is a slow and epic heavy metal introduction, with the latter being more of an excuse to go freestyle-crazy. Tudor's bass is commendably audible throughout, especially in 'Strasnic neamul meu,' while there's an interesting balance maintained between speedy and ponderous delivery, as Bogdan Mahu's drums blast away contentedly throughout songs like 'Tara de dincolo de varfuri de brad' while the other band members insist on performing at their standard pace. Oddly, what should present an irritating contrast ends up working surprisingly well.
Tending more towards the classic metal style than the more epic folk of Moonsorrow, songs aren't permitted to drag on needlessly, though the band does tend to run out of ideas half-way through each track, leaving the second half open to internal over-repetition. There's still enough variety to keep things interesting however, with a compulsory acoustic break in 'Sunt munti si paduri' that works well to divide up the track, some very pleasant folk-sounding electric guitars in 'Luna preste varfuri,' thrash riffing in 'Strasnic neamul meu' and the most diverse song of the lot, 'Vinterdoden.'
This songs perhaps stands out a little too much from the rest for being a cover of Norwegian band Helheim (from their second album 'Av Norrøn Ætt'), and with its harsh, tremolo-picked riffs and emphasis on screeched vocals over singing, it was a wise decision to at least place it towards the end of the album, though it still would have been more satisfying to hear the band attempt a more stylised cover version to fit in with their own sound, rather than merely imitating Helheim.
At only thirty-three minutes in length, this is a Viking metal album more concerned with fun than any serious attempt to reach epic heights that would probably fail disastrously, or just end up sounding impressive but deathly boring such as the aforementioned Moonsorrow. Viking metal is one of my favourite genres, and one that, as you can see, I have an unhealthy education in, but even though this album displays a number of tell-tale amateurish signs of a debut album, it still has its heart in the right place. Even if its geographical location is a little perplexing.
1. Valea plangerii
2. Sunt munti si paduri
3. Luna preste varfuri
4. Strasnic neamul meu
5. Tara de dincolo de varfuri de brad
6. Napraznica goanna
8. Bucovina, inima mea
1. Valea Plangerii / 2. Sunt Munti si Paduri / 3. Luna Preste Varfuri / 4. Strasnic Neamul Meu / 5. Tara de Dincolo de Varfuri de Brad / 6. Napraznica Goana / 7. Vinterdoden / 8. Bucovina, Inima Mea