Despite nearly a decade in production for the Istanbul-based company, Symrna Cymbals are still relatively unknown here.
With UK distribution recently handed over to Gerarde Barte of Bettadrums, both parties hope to spread the word and see the brand gain the recognition they believe it deserves.
Using genuine traditional Turkish cymbal-making methods, each pie is lovingly crafted by hand in Symrna's Istanbul workshop.
The blanks are produced in-house and cast in a large, wood burning oven. From here, cymbals are hammered into shape rather than being pressed.
Despite using these age-old cymbal-smithing techniques, Symrna aims to produce modern sounding instruments with a high level of consistency. They even claim to produce each cymbal in the same range within one semi-tone of each other.
Symrna boasts a wide array of cymbal ranges. The epically named Thunder Lord series, up for review, accounts for just a small fraction of the Symrna arsenal. Other series include Thunder Earth, Neoclassic, Istanbul Jazz, Raiden, S-FX, Performance, Araf, Acoria, Raven, Natlus and Renaissance.
Finished with a two-tone lathing pattern, the majority of the playing surface of each Thunder Lord features a brilliant finish, with the outer edge lathed a few inches in.
From the unlathed, dark finish of the Raven series to the brilliance of the Raiden series, Symrna is confident that it can offer a suitable choice for everyone. The Thunder Lord range is described as targeting heavier styles like rock and metal, and Symrna says "drummers who are looking for semi-dry sounds will like it very much".
Finished with a two-tone lathing pattern, the majority of the playing surface of each Thunder Lord features a brilliant finish, with the outer edge lathed a few inches in. This leaves the unpolished part with more of a traditional look, much like the popular Zildjian K Hybrid series.
The underside of each cymbal sports the same traditional finish as the edges. Both Symrna logos are boldly printed across the top of each cymbal, as is the smaller gothic font of the Thunder Lord badge. Each one is also etched with a small circular 'Handmade in Turkey' mark. Interestingly, a description of the size and type of cymbal is marked on the underside rather than the top. This gives each cymbal a uniform look, with only physical size distinguishing them against each other – a small detail but a nice touch.
The Thunder Lord cymbals are available in a large selection of sizes. Crashes start at 14" and progress incrementally up to a mighty 20". Ride cymbals are available in 21", 22" and 24" and hi-hats include 13", 14" and 15" models. Splashes and chinas are also available, starting at 7" and 15" respectively. For review we have a pair of 15" hi-hats, 14", 17", 18" and 20" crashes and a 22" ride.
Despite having used the Thunder Lords for a couple of different gigs, not to mention putting them through their paces in the practice studio, we're still finding it tough to make up our mind on them. They seem to be a mixed bag in terms of tonal quality, with some likeable aspects and some, not so much.
Starting with the crashes; the small 14" is very tinny and incredibly brash. For some, this might be exactly what you're after in a cymbal, but not us. Perhaps it's better suited as a stackable FX cymbal.
Thankfully, as we move up to the 16" and 18" models, they start to sound more like usable crash cymbals. Both possess an explosive projection which has a brightness to it, yet at the same time they manage to maintain a dark wash underneath. These tonal characteristics could be down to the dual-lathing process used on the cymbals and the hammering techniques used.
The 15" hi-hats are incredibly dry which can work well in the right style. Wide open, they are piercing; closed, they are rather more subtle. With a soft feel under-stick, the hats feel good to physically dig into, delivering a crisp attack.
Although marked as a crash, given its size the 20" Thunder Lord could be used as a ride or at the very least, a crash-ride. The body is ping-y and the bell is explosive, creating little wash until the cymbal comes alive when crashed.
In comparison, the 22" ride has a little more character. Both have a very pronounced stick definition which, as intended, makes the cymbal well suited to heavier styles of music. Both the crashes and ride are far from versatile and stick out like a sore thumb in the wrong musical situation, so somewhat of a one-trick pony considering the current price point. The 22" ride, for example, will set you back £417.
For that kind of money there are many other quality cymbals to consider that would sit well in a greater cross-section of styles. Similarly, the 16", 18" and 20" crashes may possess their own distinctive sound that would work well for heavier styles, but at £210, £265 and £335 respectively, they're a considerable investment for such limited application.