Sub Semnul Lupului is the second album by Romanian symphonic black metal act Syn Ze Şase Tri. Although its May 2012 release puts it only a year and a month after their debut Între Două Lumi came out much has changed in the Syn Ze Şase Tri camp. Only Corb (vocals and guitars) and Hultan (bass) remain from the previous album’s recording line-up. Although the replacement of a drummer and second guitarist (Strigoi and Spin respectively, although only Strigoi has actually been replaced) doesn’t seem a major thing for a young band the biggest change is that the group now has two vocalists, with Lycan being integrated as very much the frontman of the group.
That, in short, means that the vocals are now a mix of high and low growls between Lycan and Corb. The low growls put me more in mind of death metal than black metal but the music remains in the same symphonic black metal style as with Între Două Lumi, although the level of quality has been turned up a notch between releases. If nothing else there is additional vocal variety in the band’s sound with this new setup, but I can’t honestly say I’d like the album any more or less with just one vocalist.
It sounds like a lot more is going on in the compositions of Sub Semnul Lupului and there are even a few parts that come across as being progressive. We’re not talking such a jump in quality that the band comes across as being so greatly improved between records that it’s a shock, but it is a natural sounding improvement which utilises the potential of the debut much better than on said album. Where I felt Între Două Lumi just about scraped a ‘great’ score on my scale, there is no doubt that Sub Semnul Lupului is a great album. The use of even more interesting symphonic elements is what clinches that distinction for Syn Ze Şase Tri, as well as a general improvement in song writing. We’re not talking masterpiece levels for Syn Ze Şase Tri just yet, but Sub Semnul Lupului leaves me feeling much more hopefully that one day we will be hearing just that from the band. All it needs is that extra spark and then Syn Ze Şase Tri should easily be a force to be reckoned with within the symphonic black metal field. If their next release shows the same natural improvement as this one, then album number three could be the biggy.
Like its predecessor Sub Semnul Lupului is written entirely in the band’s native language. For me as an English speaker that means I can’t understand a word of it, so any effect the intro track Sorocul might have had on me is completely lost, although I expect the spoken dialogue is there to get the listener in the mood for the symphonic black metal assault that is to follow. Not unexpectedly as an intro this is the weakest track on offer. I can’t help feel that the band recycled Profeţie, the intro from Între Două Lumi, at least in ideals. The remainder of the tracks are all very good however, showcasing that progression in the band’s sound between albums well.
They had good ideas before, but they are much more refined now, resulting in what, overall, is undeniably a stronger album. I wouldn’t actually hesitate to say that, intro aside of course, every track here is superior to those on the debut. A ‘great album’ range rating is most definitely deserved.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))