One of the nice things of being an editor/reviewer is the discovery of new and exciting bands. Recently I came across Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy, a folk/doom metal band from the Czech Republic. Their Navaz album is stacked to the brim with majestic compositions and elaborate arrangements. Singer Pavel Hricner and guitarist Mirek Petrek were more than happy to answer my questions on the band’s early days, the writing and recording sessions for Navaz, the deeper meanings behind the lyrics and Pavel’s passion for music in general.
Thank you for doing this interview. I was really blown away by your latest album Navaz, yet I’ve never heard of you guys. Can you introduce the band and tell something about its origins?
Pavel: At first greetings to Netherlands! We are band from North Moravia (the eastern part of the Czech Republic) and these our roots of Moravian folklore we combine with a metal music. And because this part of CR is a rough and dark region, our music isn´t joyful, but the full of emotions and slow beats. Navaz is our sixth album, but the first completely in Czech language. On this album we use typical rock instruments like guitars, bass and drums. We used various onorthodox instruments as well, like dulcimer, violin, cello, string bass…
The band is doing very well in your native country. You’ve won several prestigious music awards there. What about the rest of Europe?
Pavel: Man, I am afraid we are just pretty unknown band outside our country. As our previous albums were released by Czech independent labels, there was only minimal distribution in the rest of the world. We hope Season Of Mist is the right label for our “breakthrough”.
Let’s move on your latest album Navaz. It’s entirely sung in your native tongue. What are the lyrics and themes all about?
Pavel: All of our lyrics take place in pagan times and if there is something that connects them, it would be respect for nature and female cults. For example, I could explain the opening track Mokoš and the last one, Samodiva. Mokoš is the Goddess of the Earth, her equivalent is Hera in Greek mythology and Juno in Roman mythology. She is angry with the warriors who shed blood and she refused to receive their bodies. They plead for her forgiveness, their wifes praid for them. In the end Mother Earth, wounded and filthy from their blood, forgives them and let them rest in her embrace, at the place they arose from. My favourite one is Samodiva, a kind of erotic doomy song. A nymph lures and seduces a tired and erratic man. He, drugged by her singing, comes to her. They dance and have sex until the man dies. It’s not a happy story but I can’t help myself from liking it.
How does the creative process work within SSOGE and how do you approach it from a personal angle?
Mirek: As always, the base is formed by Radek and Hanka, as most of material originates in their flat, but of course, each band member plays their part. Though Radek and Hanka are the main composers, they really enjoy composing and arranging with the rest of the band. It is an exciting process when something new comes to life during our collective sessions. Nowadays it’s no problem to do all the pre-production at home on my PC. My responsibility is to mix all pre-production parts and when I´m finished we give this material to our producer and then the arranging proces begins.
What are you fondest memories while recording Navaz? In what sense did it differ from previous recording experiences?
Mirek: I enjoyed every moment in the studio. I was nervous before my first meeting with Roland (because of his past with Halloween and his great work with Masterplan) but I immediately realized he is a great guy. We had some fun during the recordings, but there was no time to get screw around. My first recording with SSOGE was the pre-production for Návaz at Šopa studio about two years ago and it was great. Working with Roland was totally different – Radek and I were surprised by the setting of the amplifiers, guitars, and the microphones. Actually the whole the recording process was a big surprise for us. I think Roland’s “monkey grip” is still a nightmare for Radek.
What I really like about the record is how you guys manage to incorporate folk and metal elements in your music and make it actually flow. What’s your secret?
Pavel: Maybe the reason is that for us metal and folklore elements aren’t two seperate things. It´s simply music to us. We always try to achieve a natural fusion between metal and folk. We create all of the parts collectively. We use the melodies as the basis of our music. Then we add instruments such as cello and violin, vocals and so on. Them we sit down with our producer Tomas Kocko and we discuss about it. He is a great musician with a lot of ideas. Working with him is simply a blast! We had a lot of experience from the creative process of our previous album, because it was our first cooperation with Tomas. With Navaz we tried to do it on our own. He only helped us with the final arrangements of the vocals and the folk elements.
SSOGE is signed to Seasons Of Mist now, a label known for quality releases in the extreme metal field. How did you land this deal and what are the benefits for the band?
Pavel: About two years ago we recorded a four track demo and sent it to every label you can imagine. There were only a few responses, and all kind of ‘the material is fine but…’, so we decided to make an album from our own money. We booked GrapowStudios and we did it, it’s simple. After that, we again sent the album to the labels and finally got some fair responses. So we started to negotiate and our final choice was Season Of Mist. We really appreciate their work and their roster so what else could I say than it’s more than an honour for us to cooperate with SOM? We hope we find many more of fans from other countries and we will play a lot of gigs there!!!
Combining metal with folk elements is very popular nowadays. Many bands use folk elements as a kind of gimmick, but you guys seem to be the real deal. What are your thoughts on that?
Pavel: As I previously said our roots are in Moravia where folklore is all around us. We used folk elements on the first album, but the biggest step in the fusion proces was Relic Dances. We continued that proces on Navaz. We don´t play (at this time very popular) kind of „pubfolkmetal“. We want to give our fans something to think about it.
What bands do you like and who are your inspirations when it comes to playing, writing music and performing?
Pavel: I listen to a lot of music. Rock, metal, folklore, classical music… My favourite bands are Opeth, Porcupine tree, Valravn, Gaate… and many others. I listen to music everywhere and all the time. Even when I sleep I’m dreaming about it. When we write music, we find inspiration everywhere. In old Moravian ballads, in nature, in our mind and feelings…
Time for the final question. When can we expect you guys in The Netherlands?
Pavel: Of course we would like to support our new album live, I guess our label Season Of Mist is negotiating with some booking agencies just now, so we’ll see. We’ll keep you updated! We like your country, we played in the Netherlands four or five times before. We’ll be happy playing there again.
Thank you for doing this interview. If you got any final thoughts or remarks, please put them here:
Pavel: Thank you too, I wish you a fine listening experience to our new album and hope we’ll meet with you soon at some gig in the Netherlands.
Mirek: Thanks for interview, keep listening to good music and support good music too. Take care.
Written by Raymond Westland