Negura Bunget performs a sold-out show with special guest and co-headliner, Dynfari.

It is September 4th, 2015 at the Black Bear Bar in Brooklyn, New York. The cold breath of an Icelandic winter storm whips through its confines beneath a blanket of Romanian fog. As outside the venue, the bearded and bespectacled set sip their lattes and begin the borough’s Labor Day weekend, inside a cluster of ardent metalheads gather to witness Icelandic black metal dreamers Dynfari lending their support to the Romanian black metal vortex known as Negura Bunget.

Carried forth by the hard work of Helsinki Productions and its resourceful mastermind, Irina “Helsinki” Crane, the night almost doesn’t get off the ground as a Visa snafu denies entry to two members of the headlining act. In a display of heavy metal camaraderie and show-must-go-on dedication rarely witnessed in any other genre, two members of Dynfari learn nine songs in a short span of time, keeping the mystical flame alive with their herculean efforts.

To warm up the growing number of black-clad devotees filing in, New York City’s own <strongEntropy get things cooking with their groove-laden brand of thoughtful death metal. Memorable leads and some scattered clean vocals help them etch a firm foothold and start the night off right.

Following next comes Hercyn. Although this band hails from Jersey City, New Jersey, their sound is frigid indeed, casting a pall of icy black metal madness that fans in attendance eat up and enjoy.

Iceland’s Dynfari takes the stage next, with each band member as stoic and unassuming as can be. They dress conservatively and hold close to their chests what they are about to unleash. Their unique vision manifests in everything from the coldest screams atop a cacophonous blast to introspective passages of lingering vibrancy. Some clean vocals add nuance to the songs, as Dynfari plays the dream-like sequence of “Oreida,” “Sandkorn,” and “Halfsjor” from their latest album, Vegferd Timans. An Alcest or Agalloch-esque beauty competes with an ornery heaviness, the nuances of which are only partially lost on account of a bit of muddiness in the live mix. Closing with “Vonleysi” off their very first album, Dynfari shows they belong in the international theater of high caliber extreme metal.

Fans at the show are highly engaged with the band’s display, and, despite a few too many people carrying on rude conversations during the band’s many quieter interludes, Dynfari are clearly ready to take over and hopefully will come back around again after this tour concludes.

Negura Bunget is a band whose shamanic musical spells and transcendent albums have captivated hordes of fans the world over. Despite the fracture of their lineup for this tour, Gabriel “Negru” Mafa soldiers gamely on, the induction of two Dynfari members altering but not diminishing the effectiveness of the entity that is Negura Bunget.

On the small stage, with only one long, traditional horn to augment a usually instrumentally rich stage set-up, the band storms through favorites such as “Ceasuri Rele,” “Pamint,” and Cuonasterea Tacuta,” alongside songs from their latest album, Tau, such as “Nametenie” and “Schimniceste.” Closing with the stunning “Dacia Hyperboreana,” Negura Bunget proves the magic in the tunes can survive a cobbled together lineup at a small bar in a foreign land.

The union of these two tribes is made all the more welcome by the tribes who gather to watch them perform, the fans leaving satisfied and excited. After all, such an arrangement will probably never take place again after this tour concludes. Unique and cutting-edge, the tour stop in Brooklyn is bolstered by a mix of good local openers and the combined efforts of two bands who, though they share vast geographical distances, bring the same spirit of pagan black metal to the stage, much to the delight of all in attendance.

Negura Bunget
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