SILENT STREAM OF GODLESS ELEGY - Návaz (Season of Mist/Riot)

Hey-nonny no thanks.
Release Date: 
17 Jan 2011 (All day)

 

These Czechs have been doing the rounds since the mid- 90's without really causing a great deal of fuss to the metal populace. I'm only really familiar with their debut album Iron, and by 'familiar' I mean I gave it a couple of spins at the time and it's remained untouched ever since. Until today. I dusted it off to see how far the band have come in the intervening fifteen years. Not very, apparently. 

 The latest album Návaz, the band's fifth, shows a band with an almost creationist-esque anti-evolutionary ethic. They're still ploughing a remakably similar furrow to their formative work, albeit with a far superior production and a couple of other bells and whistles. This template evokes all the mid-90's UK doom favourites (you know the names), only with a sprinkling of cod-folk and a female vocal. 

 The majority of the tracks here are driven by the vocals and strings (violin and cello), the rest of the instruments merely providing a background wash. There's no riffs as such, just some plodding 3-4 note chug-a-long to fill the empty space. At least that was certainly the case for the first two tracks Mokos and Zlatohlav. By the end of these two I was already yawning before the dulcimer intro of Skyrj Hlavu Do Dlani caught my ear. While this one still trudges along as per, the superior melody catches the attention and the male / female vocal interplay on the chorus is finally successful. Unfortunately this is short lived. The track, at seven and a half minutes, outstays it's welcome and from then on we're back to square one. 

There's the jaunty Slava at track five which I'm sure will give some fat Germans in Tankard shirts something to hop about and spill their beer to at a festival. Personally it made me want to vomit my own pelvis, but then I'm an objectionable prick. 

On the plus side it's well recorded. The female vocal from Hanka Hajdová is for the most part excellent, even if the melodies are unmemorable. Michal Sýkora and Pavel Zouhar, on cello and violin respectively, show they are no slouches either. There are moments overall when it all comes together and you really start thinking the band are on to something. Moments are all they ever end up becoming though, and you're soon back to the chug verse / half speed chorus cliche that makes up the majority of songs here. 

Návaz seems to exist in some sort of void. I've seen the band described as folk doom but this is fairly sweeping and a little desperate. It's doom without being doomy. It lacks any emotional resonance and melancholy and just sort of lumbers along slowly instead. Throwing in a dulcimer and a smidgeon of Slavic-style hey-nonny-no doesn't make it folk either. It's just sort of... there. Unfortunately.