Syn Ze Sase Tri : Sub Semnul Lupului

Syn Ze Sasi Tri are a band who frustrate me. I mean they should be exactly my sort of thing, Black Metal seeped in Romanian folklore brought to you by a band including Corb and Spin who, as a part of Negura Bunget, were partly responsible for one of my all time favourite albums, Vîrstele Pămîntului.

And Yet….

When I first heard the band’s previous release, Între Două Lumi, it struck me that something wasn’t quite right. Superficially it has all the elements that I’d hoped for, it just seemed to be lacking soul and suffered from an overuse of effects and a production job that just didn’t (for me) fit.

Fast forward a year and the follow up album was something I wasn’t actually sure I was particularly looking forward to, I mean they are a band with so many ideas but up until now they just haven’t managed to do them justice in the recording studio.

Good news though !!!!

Compared predecessor, Sub Semnul Lupului is a massive improvement (phew !!). Whereas before the production left things sounding a little clipped and the excessive use of “forest” sound effects singularly failed to capture the atmosphere of the Transylvanian woods (and bordered on the ridiculous in places) this is a much more straightforward affair, and sounds much better for it.

I love the Romanian culture, and I love folk inspired Black Metal, so I’ve always wanted to love Syn Ze Sase Tri. Well if they haven’t exactly made me fall head over heels yet, they’ve certainly convinced me to go out on a second date.

Where the band have included elements from Romanian folk tradition (and it’s by no means overbearing) it’s all handled much better than it was on their previous effort. The monastic, choral part at the start of the title track works extremely well at setting the scene. The way it builds atmosphere and expectation, and the way that expectation is more than met by the track itself, just serves to show how good Syn Ze Sase Tri are when everything falls into place.

Alas, there’s still something that doesn’t sit right with me. Given the organic, earthy sound of the vocals and guitar, and the impressive staccato percussion, the inorganic sounding keyboards just don’t fit in properly. I’m not sure if this is just down to the way it’s been mixed, but the keyboards are given a prominence in the final soundscape that they simply don’t warrant.

With Sub Semnul Lupului, Syn Ze Sase Tri have released a good album, but more than that they have given us flashes of exactly the greatness they are capable of. Given the improvement between their previous offering and this, I have high hopes that their next album could just be something a bit special.