Silent Stream of Godless Elegy - Návaz
Season Of Mist
Doomy Folk Metal
9 songs (48:30)
Release year: 2011
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Jaime
The recent years the folk metal phenomenon has slowed down and some of the cheesy, happy clappy inhabitants seem to have fallen by the wayside to allow the more serious bands to step forward in their place, normally those from Eastern Europe. Probably the most prominent of these has been Napalm's (who else?) signing Arkona who've seen a massive jump in interest over the past year or two but they're not the only band who've been round the block a few times before being picked up by one of the more well know labels.

Behold Silent Stream of Godless Elegy who mix up a bit of folk with a bit of doom metal to produce something utterly captivating. The first track Mokoš has a sombre vibe that flows through the entire album and by itself makes the band stand out from the crowd. It is a mostly acoustic affair with the drums and strings leading the way while vocalist Hanka Hajdová smoothly glides over the top of it all until a massive chorus kicks introducing the distorted guitars, that are brought into the verses alongside growling vocalist Pavel Hrnčíř almost effortlessly and don’t overpower any of the other instruments and, probably more importantly, retain the mood that the song has captured all the way to the end with that soaring outro. Zlatohlav starts of a in a slightly more metal fashion with the guitars having a crushing tone to them before the strings take over again in a clean passage that forms the verse. The band have worked out some magical formula that allows these, not quieter as such, but less intense sections to provide a dynamic with the heavier parts that doesn’t seem tacked on or false like some bands do, and whenever these section meld together, like in Mokoš or the mostly elegant and harrowing Přísahám with it’s almost balladesque feel as the vocalists play off one another in the verses until they break into one of those massive choruses that the band do so well.

Even with the wonderful performances from all members, especially the vocalists, it’s undoubtedly the string section that’s the show stealer here. These carry the songs atmosphere and mood, be it the slightly aggressive and traditional folk based Slava which would just sound fake and inauthentic without them carrying the melodies, or the somewhat slower and morose tracks like Sudice where they add an extra layer of gravitas and emotion to the proceedings. This isn’t to say that they’re always the focal point. Despite them providing a counterpoint to the rhythm guitars for what is by far the most aggressive track Dva Stíny Mám they are slightly further back in the mix allowing the full blast of the guitars to break through. The band also make use of what I think is a zither in a few tracks as well, with it being especially prominent in the closing song Samodiva and Skryj Hlavu Do Dlaní to fairly nice effect.

I don’t have many bad words for Návaz as an album. As far as folk metal goes it’s quite possibly one of the best things to appear from the genre and hopefully marks the turning point of it as the slightly darker, more serious bands gain more and more press and I applaud Season of Mist for taking them under their wing and allowing them to do as the wish where other labels would have forced them into some sort of horrific gimmick. The production of the album allows the music to breathe, with special notes going to the string section again as it sounds stunning and the tone of those guitars which manages to be both restrained, subtle and heavy at the same time. I only wish I could understand the lyrics to know if the matched the music in quality, but that aside this is a fantastic album to start the new year with.
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Jaime quoted 91 / 100
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