I never bothered experiencing the strange, melancholic world of Silent Stream of Godless Elegy until a promo of this album wiggled its way into my music folder. At first I was shocked with what I was hearing; an apparent mixture of rhapsodic folk music (Moravian to be precise) with some metal elements sporadically appearing in the guitar work and other factors of the musical journey. Apparently they've shifted sounds with each release, but I'm a bit of a n00b as I said, so I really can't comment on how they've changed with "Návaz." However, the unique collision of atypical instruments creates an energetic vortex of folk-inspired groove once Silent Stream of Godless Elegy adds heavy guitars and sliding percussion underneath their primary identity, and that's not including the spectrum of vocal approaches fused into this lavish display of forestry.
So, the axis of "Návaz" spins heavily on Silent Stream of Godless Elegy's Moravian folk approach nudging its way to the front of the record while the band's metal influence remains buried underneath the flurry of violins, cellos and other instruments that have a strong base in folk music. The Moravian folk sense is pretty interesting in and of itself; the constant slamming of string instruments provides a fresh landscape for the faction to dwell upon, and they do an exceptional job stitching the guitar work on their eclipsing sounds of Czech naturalism. As I said, the folk pieces are the main focus of "Návaz," so it is not wise to expect a monolith of complex riffing or spoonfuls of crushing doom. Instead, the album is highly atmospheric and emotional, relying much more on feeling than actual instrumentation.
Here's a little spoiler though: this is hardly a metal album. Not really a surprise, but the folk aspect is entirely domineering, taking over the instrumental foundation, all instrumental leads and most of the musical transitions. Obviously, there are open doors that the group uses resourcefully, such as perplexing violin solos or a cello lead for instance...at least something that deviates from the norm and fits appropriately into the folk metal niche. Some of the riffs and grooves are heavy and stern, and the growling vocals have a bit of bite to them as well, but these qualities are usually buckled in the backseat. Now the burning question: was benching the metal blueprint a detrimental decision?
Well, that's up for debate. On one hand, it's nice to witness a band flexing their muscles without unneeded guitar work flying around just to prove they're a metal band, yet some moments are fairly open-ended and could use additional output from what Silent Stream of Godless Elegy considers secondary. I'm still very impressed with the emotive, atmospheric result produced by these Czech architects despite my minor complaints; the alloy of bold ideas and natural thoughts conveyed in this medium truly makes "Návaz" an experience most will appreciate. The performances are captivating, the atmosphere powerful, and the vocalists continue to feed Silent Stream of Godless Elegy’s source of life with a pristine edge of elegance. Not perfect, but folk metal usually isn’t this good.