Sur Austru - Obârșie

 

Key Facts 

Country: 🇷🇴

Genre: Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal

Release Date: 9th April 2021

Record Label(s): Avantgarde Music


Band Members

Ovidiu Corodan - Bass, Toacă, Vocals 

Sergiu Nădăban - Drums, Percussion, Toacă

Ionut Cadariu - Flute, Keyboards 

Mihai Florea - Guitars, Bucium 

Petrică Ionuţescu - Traditional instruments 

Tibor Kati - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Bucium 


Sur Austru - Cel din Urmă


Review
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Trick(s): Cel din urmă, Cant Adânc, Caloianul, Taina

Romania's Sur Austru (formed of former members of progressive black metal band Negură Bunget) have returned with their highly anticipated sophomore album. 2019s spellbinding and unique debut Meteahna Timpurilor was a magical listening experience that blended Romanian folk instruments, the romance of the Romanian language and extravagant black metal riffs. With that in mind you can imagine it would be pretty hard to follow up, but the band laid their own gauntlet down and have returned with a richer, more intense and more atmospheric. Obârșie feels like a natural evolution of the band's sound, focusing more on the atmospheric side of their music alongside elements of doom and symphonic influences. So, with the beauty of Romania firmly fixed in your mind, the album transports you to this highly magical and superstitious nation with finely crafted atmospheric compositions. 

Musically, there is less focus on the grandiose black metal riffs we first heard from the band in their debut Meteahna Timpurilor, and a stronger focus on the traditional instruments coming to the fore backed by the symphonic sounding synths. Whilst the progressive black metal riffs are still a staple throughout the album, the seemed to be used more for driving the songs as the melodic duties are taken up by chanted vocals and the traditional instruments. The album opens up with two ten-minute plus songs that take up most of the albums runtime. Cel din urmă, being the longest, feels like the sonic narrative of an epic Medieval poem. The various unique sections come together like a conceptual orchestral piece, with rising tensions and shifting momentums. The dark melodies and pounding riffs give a foreboding doom vibe whilst also sounding mystical and in some areas ritualistic.  The second epic, Taina, follows a similar structure, but is a darker and significantly more mysterious song by comparison. The shamanic intro followed by dissonant, frosty, black metal riffs alongside a sinister sounding string section. Both these songs take a significant chunk of the album's runtime but together they could be a mini-album on their own. Codru Moma offers up a very Wardruna-esque style instrumental interlude, by creating a mystical and ominous soundscape. This draws you in and conjures up imagery of mountains bedecked in thick forests, rolling mists cascading down from the peaks. Whilst it's beautiful melodies circle round you there is an uneasy tension in the back of your mind that makes this interlude quite captivating. This can also be said for Caloianul, a shamanic and grandiose song that seems to evoke the spirits of nature and Romanian folklore. Romanian folklore in itself is a treasure trove of concepts, ideas, magical beings and darkness that is perfect for this ominous style of music that Sur Austru create. The album title Obârşie is the Romanian word representing the concepts of origin, descent and source, which could be either the source of water in the mountains or part of an initiation ceremony. This concept is delivered in bucket loads, as it always feels like it's connecting for something older, more primal and evocative of ancient nature than anything modern. The shamanic nature of the music and the grandiose atmosphere is something to be admired, each composition comes together effortlessly to truly capture the concepts and themes of the album. Effortlessly flowing like a great river, carving its place in the unique niches of atmospheric black metal. Overall, Obârșie is a very unique listening experience, much like it's predecessor Meteahna Timpurilor. With progressive black metal riffs and layered traditional instruments, you really get a feel for the origins of this music, a sense of place in the heart of Eastern Europe. 

Working with such a variety of instruments must have been an exciting production challenge, especially when the more traditional elements are designed to take centre stage over the traditional metal fare. The drums are probably the most prominent out of all the usual metal instruments. The kick helps pin the more lofty elements down with a solid thump and drive, the snare seems a bit to try for music that is this intensely atmospheric, it kind of clashes in some areas so some added reverb may help it blend in more. The guitar tones are pretty scaled back but still have a clean, distorted tone appropriate for the black metal the band are creating, but they sit pretty low in the mix and sometimes the lead melodies can be missed. The bass it weight, filling the low end with distorted grooves, thankfully it's not so distorted it sounds muddy, it's dialled in perfectly. The traditional instruments really shine in this case, backed with ethereal keyboards and orchestral elements. They're layered in such away that they are all encompassing, with the guitars behind them they float above the black metal rhythms with spectacular grandeur. Overall, the album is mixed well for what they want, but a few elements can sometimes disjoint the immersion. 

If you fancy some unique and Romanian black metal, Obârșie and Sur Austru is a good place to start!

Sur Austru  - Obârșie

 

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