The world of music is so big and this Angry Metal Guy is really so very, very small. This is my excuse for having never listened to Silent Stream of Godless Elegy before receiving this record from Season of Mist. And really, I think I probably should have at least checked them out before. Having formed in 1995 they’ve been playing a variety of folky, doomy metal that, to be honst, I’m surprised wasn’t picked up by Napalm Records back in the day when they were on their kick of picking up every female fronted band ever. But I digress [What? Me digress? – AMG].
NÃ¡vaz isn’t what I was expecting, given all of that. I guess I’m not sure what I was expecting from a Czech folk metal band, but this isn’t it. In fact SSoGE is rather tame and not very extreme. The music is mid-paced to slow, one could really call this doom and get away with it, and filled with down tempo moments with beautiful violin work. The vocals are generally lead by the female vocalist Hanka Hajdová and I just need to take a minute to sing this woman’s praises. She actually really reminds me of the female vocalists from a lot of gypsy music that I’ve heard (particularly from Emir Kusturika’s material). I’m guessing it’s a style of singing that’s more embedded in the folk music culture, but it’s just gorgeous. It’s powerful in a way that you just don’t hear among the female fronted bands in metal these days. It’s like Alannah Myles meets Slavonic folk music. Inspiring.
Unfortunately, the final outcome of the writing is less than inspiring. For the most part the music is sort of mid-paced and plodding and the melodies don’t resonate with me. This could just be a cultural difference of melody building and so forth, but there are moments that stand out for me. For example, the chorus on the track “Skryj hlavu do dlaní” is stellar, while much of the rest of the music I could live without. “Sudice” is much the same way for me, just plodding and unconvincing leaving me a bit cold. There are, of course, high points. The track “Slava” reminds me a bit of Moonspell (actually a lot of the stuff where the main male vocalist shows up reminds me Moonspell because of his vocal range), but the track itself is much more folky and driven than much of the record, with a hook in the chorus that definitely gets caught. Between that track and the most extreme of the contained tracks “Dva stíny mám,” I was happy. But outside of those two tracks there was a general feeling of ‘meh.’
I have not heard the band’s previous material, so I can’t reference it, but this is a band that seems to have some roots in the death metal material that shows up on “Dva stíny mám” and “Praven, co vÃ,” and to be honest that’s probably what’s missing for me. Much of this record just kind of plods along without offering the kind of contrast that can be done so well between a growling vocalist and a female vocalist. This is not to say that the male cleans aren’t good (note Moonspell reference above), just that growls mix things up. It’s that variety and sense of tension that is lacking. Though, honestly, this is just one of those records that floated through my ears and out only really peaking interest a couple times (as mentioned). It could just be that this isn’t my thingâ€”or that x factor could really be missing.