Written by: RUB on 13/10/2021 10:35:13

My knowledge of Romanian metal stems from one place, and one place only: Negură Bunget. As such, when the untimely passing of their sole remaining founding member, Gabriel ‘Negru’ Mafa, cut their existence short in 2017, I thought I would never listen to something as epic, folkloric or magical as the soundscape that band managed to create. Luckily, as I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, I find myself extremely lucky to have such a vast and grand network of fellow metal connoisseurs, so when I was presented with something “a bit like that of Negură Bunget”, I just had to give it a spin. And as fate sometimes would have it: then another spin, and another… Because what these two bands seem to have in common (apart from a number of members) is the unique ability to tell a story through music — even though I of course do not understand a single word of the Romanian lyrics.

The slow and grandiose build-up in the first track “Timpul Întâilor” has a lot going for it. It brings mysticism and atmosphere straight to the table, and ensures the listener is instantly captivated. But then, just after the two-minute mark, a massively heavy drum and guitar section enters the soundscape. This promptly made me think of the symphonic death metallers in Septicflesh, as just like that group utilizes the heavier elements of metal to set the tone for their music, it definitely seems to be the case with Dordeduh as well. Where the Romanians differentiate themselves, however, is how their style of music is still firmly centered around an atmosphere, much like bands such as Enslaved and Primordial, and indeed Dordeduh’s countrymen in Negură Bunget, are renowned for. Because the atmosphere of their music means so much to them, Dordeduh switch back and forth between quieter and heavier passages, yet never shy away from utilizing long and progressive build-ups like the one showcased in this first track. Added layers of synth and keyboard towards the end then make the listening experience complete. What an epic way to start an album (its 12 minutes of runtime fly by in no time)!

The record as a whole is actually more than an hour long. This is usually an absolute turnoff for me, because albums of that length tend to drag on and on without any clear purpose, but that is simply not the case with Dordeduh. The elegant tension-building around the mesmerizing clean vocals of former Negură Bunget vocalist Edmon ‘Hupogrammos’ Karban, makes it such a pleasant listen. And when the various traditional instruments such as tulnic, toacă, hammered dulcimer, and even xylophone, as it is the case in the second track “În Vielistea Uitarii”, are brought into the mix, it all just comes together in a way that makes you feel as if you’re off in a strange and magical land, just before you’re blown back into consciousness by the sheer force of the brutality of the combined guitars, growls and drums. Before you know it, the group switches right back into calmer tides, and the lead of the third track “Descânt” has had me humming along to the melody and lyrics — still unknown to me — ever since I first heard it. The thick bass line, coupled with soaring offbeat guitars and drums, make for a perfect combination to the beautiful lyrics, and we’re witnessing yet another absolute banger by the Romanian act. Generally speaking, what Dordeduh do so well is adding layer upon layer to an already impressive soundscape, and that might be the reason for why the album is so long. The myriad layers, however, never feel forced or unnecessary at all, and as they build towards that inevitable climax, the listener gets more and more excited for its eventual arrival. It’s just brilliant, simply put, and even better: it makes those heavier sections stand out even more, just like the last couple of minutes of “Descânt” showcases.

As the first half of the album concludes, the second mastodon of a track, “Vraci De Nord”, gets underway with that same slow-paced build-up and progressive nature as the opener. Not quite as long the former, it still has a lot of the same elements, although it takes a slightly darker and more ominous approach — at first. Because after the first four minutes or so, that magnificent sound of the soft vocals and calmer instrumentation creates a lovely juxtaposition to the deep and harrowing growls of who I believe to be Flavius Misarăṣ on the bass guitar and backing vocals, or perhaps the other former Negură Bunget member, Critian ‘Sol Faur’ Popescu, who has been prone to do those on former releases (I count my knowledge of the band too poor to make this judgement in full confidence). And as the track moves forward at a steady pace, you never quite know what is going to happen next. The rumbling bass line once again returns alongside soaring clean vocals, and I find myself flabbergasted at how glorious this piece in particular sounds.

Before I make this more of a novella than it already feels like — because I do feel like I could keep highlighting one brilliant thing about this record after the other — perhaps I should try to conclude my review. Dordeduh’s music is magic and fantasy, and to be completely honest, very mysterious. They do this without sacrificing any of their hard-earned integrity by becoming a shadow of the genre and relying on cliché elements and poor production. “Har” sounds so clean and atmospheric, and enthrals the listener with a captivating soundscape fit to be the soundtrack for some epic fantasy film. Even the third and final colossus of a track, the penultimate “De Neam Vergur”, has something unique to offer. I know Heilung is all the rage (with good reason) when it comes to ritualistic and tribal music these days, but hands down, I feel that Dordeduh should have a place somewhere on that table, too. The range of instruments at their disposal should definitely make for an entertaining live-act just like Negură Bunget was, and one can only hope that “Har” might propel them into further underground stardom — and hopefully, at some point, earn them the recognition and fame these musicians deserve.


Download: Descânt, Timpul Întâilor, Vraci De Nord, De Neam Vergur
For the fans of: Enslaved, Negurặ Bunget, Primordial, Septicflesh
Listen: Facebook

Release date 14.05.2021
Prophecy Productions

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