I have to admit, I’d never heard of Syn Ze Șase Tri before I grabbed their 2017 release Zăul moș. For six years these Romanian black metallers have been roaming the earth without my knowledge—dropping their unique brand of symphonic black/death on the planet. Though these Transylvanians hail from the same hometown as Negură Bunget, things are done differently. Both bands have their folky songwriting and both have their native mythologies and concepts, but Syn Ze Șase Tri focuses on bigness. Their massive riffs, impressive drum work, thick symphonics, and alternating rasp/bark/clean vocals throw them in with the likes of Septicflesh, Dimmu Borgir, and Old Man’s Child—without actually sounding like them. And now their fourth chapter, Zăul moș, is upon us.
After maintaining a fairly consisting lineup through their Dimmu clone Între două lumi, their coming-of-age Sub semnul lupului, and the all-encapsulating Stăpîn peste stăpîni, it appears a new era has begun. Founding member Corb is still the mastermind behind the band (meaning, the songwriting is still there, the riffs are still there, and the symphonic elements are still there), but what isn’t there is… well, the rest of the old band. With a new vocalist, guitarist, and drummer on hand, Corb pushes on with another impressive outing.
But, unlike the band’s previous records, Zăul moș opens with a nearly eleven-minute masterpiece that encompasses the vast spectrum that is Syn Ze Șase Tri. After opening with some beautiful clean guitars, the song busts wide open—cruising along with a melodic death attitude. After it builds, the song drops into a booming, spoken-word segment before ascending once more to the surface with an emotional, yet powerful gallop. The song thrives off builds, and build it does. This time, however, it hits its climax with a full force of drums, vocals, guitars, and orchestration.
My initial thought of “Tărîmu de lumină” was that, perhaps, it would have worked better as a closer. That’s until I heard closer “În pîntecu pămîntului.” It turns out “Tărîmu de lumină” was only the beginning and not the all-encompassing piece that I thought it was. It turns out, Zăul moș spends its entire runtime building up to “În pîntecu pămîntului.” The closer takes the emotional riffage and folky atmospheres that unravel throughout Zăul moș and unleashes them all as a final farewell. Of all the songs, this one builds the most and the climax is the greatest. After it finally climaxes, I’m left feeling satisfied, yet bummed that it’s over.
As Zăul moș progresses, each song compliments the other: “În pîntecu pămîntului” is the direct result of predecessor “Cocoșii negri” and “Cocoșii negri” is the direct result of “Plecăciune zăului.” While “Plecăciune zăului” could be described as the “ballad” of the album, “Cocoșii negri” is the emotional and suspenseful march to war. “Plecăciune zăului” uses a beautiful piano to control its pace while it interweaves male and female cleans. As both voices soar above the instruments, the male cleans give way to harsher tones and deliver a classic Suidakra beauty and the beast duet. This beautiful balladiness continues into “Cocoșii negri”—setting up a scene of blaring war horns and battle-ready drum beats. The result is a song that feels like Viking-era Bathory, but done with a Syn Ze Șase Tri flair.
For more rollicking pieces, go no further than the Old Man’s Child-like “Dîn negru gînd,” the Children of Bodom-ish “De-a dreapta omului,” and the impressively-folky title track. “Dîn negru gînd” takes the lead from the opener and delivers a melodic piece that sounds Galdar-ish and drips with the key-laden atmospheres of Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child. The guitars of “Dîn negru gînd,” on the other hand, dance about like snakes before dropping and unloading a classic CoB riff and vocal performances. But the title track tops both. From the opening seconds, this one smashes hard on the downbeat with everything it’s got. Then, the song unleashes a mighty display of folky riffs and wildly unique clean vocals that boom and soar with a passion like nothing else on the album.
Beyond this, the rest of the record is straightforward Septicflesh-meets-Dimmu Borgir symphonic black/death metal. Like their previous album, this one is an envelope pusher. And, perhaps, the band’s best to date. Though less-captivating pieces exist on the record, Zăul moș has a better flow than its predecessor and ravels new secrets with each new song. Unfortunately, like Stăpîn peste stăpîni before it, Zăul moș suffers from overcompression. And while some things are lost in the brickwalling, this doesn’t completely ruin the experience. This is still a great album.