When one thinks of heavy metal, the first thought is loud guitars, guttural vocals, and precision drumming. Not for you? How about male/female tandem vocalists, dense harmony, and lush strings? Czech folk-doom act Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy bring us the latter with their fifth full-length, Návaz. While not fitting into the “popular” definition of metal, Návaz is a beautiful addition to the gothic metal lexicon.
It’s important to note that, on this particular record, all the song titles and lyrics are in Czech, so song titles have been roughly translated. The album opens with “Mokos (Earth Mother),” with a string section that reminds the listener of the Firefly soundtrack. The doom metal growls of male vocalist Pavel Hrncir blend wonderfully with female vocalist Hanka Nogolova’s haunting alto, all perfectly supported by chunky guitars, grinding bass, and tribal-influenced drums. SSOGE keeps this formula fairly rigid throughout the record, bringing in a piano on “Skryj hlavu do dlani” (Hide Your Head In Your Hands) and a surprise dulcimer on “Pramen, co vi (Source Of Knowledge).” The only track to stray is “Sudice (The Fate),” which follows a folksier path, allowing acoustic guitars and strings to weave around Nogolova’s vocals. The effect is quite soothing, yet memorable.
The production here is absolutely spot-on. Rather than use the strings as a lead instrument, or for texture, SSOGE brings them back and forth. The guitars are done in much the same way: always present, never overwhelming. Combined with the solid foundation of the drums and bass, the music is simultaneously headbanging metal and relaxing classical.
This is the record one would give to a friend who claims to dislike metal. Take Návaz for a spin, no matter what your taste in music. You may love it, you may hate it, but you won’t be disappointed.