Silent Stream of Godless Elegy – Návaz

Posted on April 24, 2011

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Season of Mist

1/17/2011

Apparently, even Silent Stream of Godless Elegy’s members have no clue what the hell their band’s moniker means. Maybe it’s the English translation of a Czech idiom that roughly means “folk metal that’s not fucking moronic.” Or something of that sort. Though they’ve been plying their trade for sixteen years, Návaz is actually my first encounter with this septet, mostly because I generally loathe the genre with which they’re often associated. It’s either party tunes disguised as metal under a veil of distortion or overly theatric, epic power metal with some indigenous instruments haphazardly mixed in to make it sound “authentic.” But I guess there’s a reason these guys (and girls) have won two awards from the Czech Music Academy. They posses neither of the previously stated negative qualities and Czechs evidently have some pretty great taste in music (OK, that’s two reasons).

It’s actually tough specify exactly what makes Silent Stream of Godless Elegy so different from their peers. They’ve got the requisite exotic instrumentation and operatic female singing. Hell, there’s not a lick of English sung on this entire album (cue all the Amurrican metalheads in their Pantera cut-offs lamenting, “I can’t understand what they’re saying with all that frilly talk!”). It should be completely cornball and excessive, but it’s not. And hey, if you’re looking for the metül, “Slava” and “Dva stíny mám – I Have Two Shadows” fit the bill with riffs ripped straight from the more arena-ready cuts in Metallica’s discography. Granted, there are some lilting violins backing it the whole way through, so maybe we’re talking more like the non-shitty parts on S&M.

Then there are flat-out excellent compositions like “Zlatohlav – Golden Head,” where vocalist Hanka Nogolova works call and response with delicate string work to gorgeous effect. Nothing excessive or overwrought here; just melody placed squarely in the middle of heavy. So maybe “Sudice – The Fate” sounds like you’re perusing a Moroccan bazaar for a monkey’s paw, all whispery foreign voices and quirky plucking on some undoubtedly unpronounceable stringed gizmo. But even I can’t resist the bouncy, rollicking percussion that leads into the all-purpose dooooom on “Pramen, co ví -Thinking Spring”’s chorus. If this is how they get their folk metal on in the Slavic nations, mark me on the guest list.

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