I Have Two Shadows!
Despite a history that dates back to 1995, Návaz was my introduction into the wonderful music of Silent Stream of Godless Elegy. They've had a dedicated underground following for quite some time, and with a recent signing onto a prestigious metal label (Season of Mist), it's natural for one to predict that Návaz will increase the band's fanbase even more. Although Silent Stream of Godless Elegy's style of music isn't something I typically enjoy very much, denying quality like this would be insane. This is a unique and beautiful work of art that fans of doom metal with gothic, classical, and folk influences will definitely want to track down. Although Návaz has its flaws, one can only hope that it will give Silent Stream of Godless Elegy the recognition that they undoubtedly deserve. People who have been following this Czech-based band will want to put this high on their purchase list, but I also have a feeling that this should reach out to other open-minded metalheads. This isn't a perfect album, but it's a unique and challenging effort that was certainly worth experiencing.
The music here is a mix of doom/death, classical music, folk, and female-fronted gothic metal. I'm frequently reminded of My Dying Bride by their mix of doom/death and classical music, but those Slavonic folk tendencies and gothic metal influences give Silent Stream of Godless Elegy their own identifiable sound. There is a fairly prominent string section on Návaz, consisting of a violinist and cellist which are present on nearly every moment of the album. The vocals are male growls and clean female singing. It gives SSOGE a "beauty and the beast"-like atmosphere, while never sounding like the countless power metal bands who attempt to capitalize on the sound. The music is fairly soft for an album that more or less belongs to the doom/death genre, though there is plenty of distortion in the guitar sounds. The lyrics are in the band's native language, so I must confess knowing nothing about the concepts behind the songs. While the entire album is of high-quality, I hesitate in calling the final product "excellent". While a few songs like the opening number, "Mokoš" or "Skryj Hlavu Do Dlaní" are terrific all the way through, not every song reeks of excellence as the aforementioned tracks do. This may be partially due to the fact that all of the songs have eerily similar arrangements, with very little variation in terms of instrumentation. The compositions themselves are almost all excellent, but it seems as though a "samey" feeling is a byproduct of the lack of instrumental variation. "Slava" is the only skip-worthy song here - the rest of the album is worth hearing for sure.
The production is excellent and a highlight aspect of the album. The sound of the piano and string section is spot-on throughout all of Návaz. Kudos to Roland Grapow for the stellar mix!
Návaz is a unique and highly-enjoyable doom/folk metal album that fans of the genre should take a look into. I can't say I was completely blown away by Návaz, but its adventurous and innovative attitude is truly admirable. Silent Stream of Godless Elegy are a talented group of musicians who are fully capable of creating excellent music, and they've proven that with Návaz. A 3.5 star rating is well-earned here. Dedicated fans of SSOGE and newbies alike should give this a shot.
1. Mokoš / Earth Mother
2. Zlatohlav / Golden Head
3. Skryj hlavu do dlaní / Hide Your Head into Hands
4. Přísahám / Promise
6. Sudice / The Fate
7. Dva stíny mám / I Have Two Shadows
8. Pramen, co ví / Thinking Spring
9. Samodiva / Fay