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With their first album in 7 years due out imminently, Comrade Aleks went in search of the veteran Czech band to find out more. Founder Radek Hajda was kind enough to provide the details about their near-25-year history.

Interview with Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy.
"Czech band Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy started in 1995, the first lineup consisting of Radek Hajda (guitars), Filip Chudý (bass), Petr Staněk (guitars, vocals), Zuzana Zamazalová (violin) and Michal Hajda (drums). In September 1995 they finished demo tape 'Apotheosis' and the second tape '...Amber Sea' appeared in July 1996 on Shindy Productions. With their first full-length, 'Iron', the band brought forth a collection of raw yet fair Death Doom. Violin played an important role in their songs, and it increased with second full-length 'Behind The Shadows' where the band aimed their sights in the direction of more Traditional Doom. Since the third album, 'Themes', they've incorporated more and more Folk elements in their sound, so how much Doom is in the band's new album 'Smutnice'? We discussed this and other, rather retrospective, questions with the last original band member: guitarist Radek Hajda."

Today's interviewee, Radek Hajda, remaining founder of Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy. (Photo: Radek Šich).

Radek, you were in the original Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy lineup, what motivated you back in 1995 to create a band of that kind? Did you plan from the start to play this sort of Death Doom with violin, rough vocals, and all these good old things?

Ye, definitely, we were (and still we are) in love with that stuff. You know, 1995 was kinda "doom metal boom" here. Still it is said it was kind of phenomena because here, in northern Moravia (the most eastern part of today Czech Republic), bunch of really great sounding doom metal bands appeared at once – Dissolving Of Prodigy, Hypnotic Scenery, R.E.T., Love History, … Actually this music style was pretty natural for us, I was always into minor scales and when I started playing guitar and heard bands like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, I knew doom metal is my love for the long term…

How did you work on your first songs for the 'Apotheosis' and '…Amber Sea' demos? How did you share your songwriting roles during the work on the debut full-length album?

You know, we were young. We just wanted to play, make a noise. No difficult composing, just "hey, I have a riff" way. We established the band in July 1995 and went to the studio already in September to record our first four songs. It was clear from the beginning the main composer is our singer/guitarplayer Petr, but all in all, it was kinda team work.

'Iron' line-up: Petr Staněk (vocals, guitars), Zuzana Zamazalová (vocals, violin), Michal Hajda (drums), Filip Chudý (bass); front: Radek Hajda (guitars).

What was the first reaction of listeners to your debut full-length 'Iron'? Can you say that this album brought the band some recognition?

Definitely it did. It was just a first step, but important one. We got more attention in the underground, started to play more gigs, supported stars like The Gathering or Cradle Of Filth here in Czech Republic.

What are your personal memories of the 'Iron' recording sessions? Did the band have any difficult moments in the studio?

No, it was nothing but a long party! For the first time we were in the professional studio, but everything went ok, I guess it took about 10-14 days of recording. We recorded in the Shaark studios situated in the south of Moravia, area that is full of vineyards and wine cellars. Only great memories for this recording!

Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - 'Ugly Jewel':

Did you keep in mind any requirements for the bands sound and lyrics working over 'Iron'?

Not really, it's been so long ago, sorry. Actually I haven't listened to this album for ages.

Did you care much about lyrics in this period? It looks like 'Iron' is the band's rawest album, lyric-wise.

I guess it is related to our age most of all. You write different lyrics in your eighteen, still angry and fighting, and in your forty, right? Anyway lyrics in this period were written by our singer Petr, so mostly it is about what was in his head.

How did this first turn to the less extreme form of Doom metal which you performed on 'Behind The Shadows' happen? What drove you to these changes? Were all the members satisfied with that?

Well, what is needed to be said – we've never been calculating. If there is any change in our direction, it has come naturally. Actually I could say "Iron" time was a period of searching our way and "Behind the Shadows" was a point we found what we like.

How often did Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy play gigs back then? Did you have solo tours? And what are your general impressions from live gigs of that period?

Depends. There were years we played about fifty gigs, and years we did just a few. We want to play as much as possible, but sometimes it's difficult as you have family, job, kids. Live gigs in that period – well, little bit punk from time to time as we didn't have decent equipment. And acoustic violin and cello – that was a real challenge on the stage! But all in all, good times and great gigs in overcrowded clubs.

Live, 2017.

Were you satisfied with 'Behind The Shadows' more than with 'Iron'? Was it more successful than the debut?

No doubt about that. "Behind The Shadows" album brought us wide publicity, we started to play live more and more including big open airs. Actually it is "Behind The Shadows" album I like the most from the "old" era, all worked, the vibe in the band was ok. I really like to remember those times.

There was a very strong bonus track, 'I Come And Stand At Every Door', what did make you to choose this song?

At that time, we were much into 4AD label's roster, especially Dead Can Dance (which we covered too). Another artist we liked was This Mortal Coil. We loved the song, we loved the lyrics. That's why "I Come And Stand At Every Door".

The next Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy experiment (or rather development) was the third album, named 'Themes'. Why did you choose that name for the record? And again – how did you come to this new and pretty original sound?

As for the title, I guess it is connected with lyrics. But sorry, it is almost twenty years ago, I am not sure about details. Sound – that is pretty clear. We changed the recording studio. Our first two albums were recorded at Shaark studios, but the "Themes" album at Hacienda studios with legendary Czech rock musician Miloš "Dodo" Doležal, who had some recording experience from the USA. He had his own idea about our sound, so yes, this album sounds different from previous ones. Can't say it is better or worse, just...different.

Did Shaark studio really affect the sound so much on 'Iron' and 'Behind The Shadows'?

Hard to say. The truth is there were just a few really good recording studios that knew how to make a "metal" album here in Czech Republic. We chose Shaark because of good references and I guess it was quite good choice.

Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - 'Shadow':

There are almost no Doom metal elements in 'Themes', did you not see a perspective for Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy in that genre?

No doom metal elements? Dude, what about the "Hrob" track? It is nothing but a doom metal song! But I know what you mean. Comparing to the "Behind the Shadows" album this one is less about that "orthodox" doom, I mean it is faster and there are more scream vocals which I personally don't like too much. Actually this was not a too happy period, there were some disagreements in the band which came to an end when I kicked most of the band out and started a new era of Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy.

Yes, you see what I meaning : ) Of course there are still some Doom riffs here and there, but… I'd describe this vibe as "pagan"… so the pagan vibe prevails over them. And actually 'Themes' is a unique record from my point of view. What about its composition? How did you come out with this formula?

To be honest, I am not aware of any change as for composing process. All came naturally, there was nothing like "now we want to add more pagan vibe". But there are some differences – different studio and producer. While "Behind the Shadows" album was produced by Petr "Blackie" Hošek (guitarplayer of mighty ROOT in that time), "Themes" was produced by another great Czech musician Miloš "Dodo" Doležal. We did kind of pre-production for the first time and recording process was a little bit different too. Actually, what I remember is that "Hrob" (the Grave) song we composed being drunk right in the studio during the night :)

'Themes' line-up: Radek Hajda (guitars), Kiril Chlebnikov (bass, viola), Zuzana Zamazalová (vocals, violin), Petr Staněk (vocals, guitars), Michal Hajda (drums), Michal Sýkora (cello).

As I understand Petr Staněk was the band's main songwriter: how did you share duties with him? How did the songwriting process change when he left the band after 'Themes'?

It is simple – though Petr was the main songwriter, everyone could bring his own ideas and part of himself. He brought a riff or a construct of a song and then we worked together on rehearsals. Now it is me and my wife who are songwriters. Still, all bandmembers can improve our work and I am very happy for that. I love that part of composing process when someone else comes with a nice idea and improve the song!

There were a lot of Silent Stream Of Elegy lineup changes through the years, did that cardinally influence on the albums and writing process?

Nope. Actually the answer is same as the previous one. There is an "old" and "new" era of the band, so songwriters are different. Though somebody could say there is no doom in our music anymore, I would disagree. We have just developed, added other elements like folk music, but still it is Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy.

Each Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy album is different, but the interesting thing is that these albums all have their individuality, some of these albums are really good (and 'Themes' is probably unique). How do you value this progress of the band?

Well, thanks for your words of appreciation! Everytime we have tried our best. As we don't want to repeat the same "pattern", but want to evolve, develop, each album sounds different. That's what we like. Music is an adventure for us, we are not pushed to make the next album same as the previous one, we can do whatever we want.

Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - 'Hrob (The Grave)':

What is the band's general message? Do you have anything that connects 'Iron' to your latest album 'Návaz'?

I guess there is something which connects all our albums and our production overall. Actually it is hard to describe but I remember a sentence from some review which was like "this is the music where, beneath the mourning and melancholy, still some hope is dwelling". I think this captures us the best.

Can you say that Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy reached their optimal sound with 'Relic Dances' and 'Návaz'? Are you happy with the recognition obtained through these records?

Hard to say if there exists something like "optimal sound". We still search, evolve, develop. This is what we like the most – explore where we haven't been before, try what we haven't tried before. We are never satisfied.. We're happy for any recognition, but ye, for me, personally, it was a big satisfaction, especially for the "Relic Dances" album as there was lot of people who didn't believe we could make a good album in our new line-up. But we succeeded and this album was awarded as the best hard'n'heavy album of 2004 in our country. "Návaz" album was another step, we were solid, with stable line-up, and we did our best. That's why this album was released worldwide by respected French label Season Of Mist, that brought us really huge attention.

'Apotheosis' and '…Amber Sea' were re-released by Parat magazine in 2017. What was the story behind this re-issue? How do you see these records today?

No special story actually. Petr, owner of Parat, told me about his idea of re-releasing our demotapes on CD and I just said "why the hell not!". It was limited edition of 222 pieces and was sold out very quickly… I'm not sure I'm able to listen to these tracks again but it was funny and great time!

Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - 'Smutnice' (Trailer):

Is the band alive still? What are your plans for 2018?

You bet we are alive! Though I'm the only original member so far, the band is workin' hard. A few months ago we recorded our new album entitled "Smutnice", produced by Yossi Sassi (ex-Orphaned Land). It will be released on May the 11th. So, once again, we want to play live as much as possible and promote our music and share the emotions with the audience.

What are you ready to reveal about 'Smutnice'? Will it continue the line of 'Návaz'? Or will it be another step further? Or…or will it have a tiny piece of 'Iron' inside?

For me it is another step of course, I don't like to repeat myself. The length of the album is about 50 minutes, it contains eight songs from doom/death style tracks like "Which of us means more" through folklore styled like "My Beloved" to ambient doom ones like "Shoreless". Really proud of it, we made a great work!

'Smutnice' line-up: Pavel Hrnčíř (vocals), Radek Hajda (guitars), Michal Sýkora (cello), Michal Milták (drums), Stanislav Pavlik (bass), Gabriela Povraznikova (violin), Hana Hajdová (vocals).

'Návaz' was released seven years ago, is the line-up still the same? How did you work on the new material?

Nope, only four members have remained, but this is the life. We are not professionals, music is only time and financially demanding hobby. I cannot force anyone to be part of the band. If you don't enjoy being in the band, there is no place for you.. So it was almost me and my wife who composed the new album. Then, at the beginning of 2017, we started to search for new musicians and we succeeded. We have a new drummer, bassplayer and violinist. I know it's kinda cliché, but I'm so happy and proud of them, really great line-up now. But back to the production process - when all tracks were done, we sent it to Yossi for pre-production. Then he came to us, we had few rehearsals, refined some details and entered the GrapowStudios. It was the most relaxed recording I've bee part of, thanks to our brother Yossi Sassi and mighty Roland Grapow!

Thanks for the interview Radek! I appreciate your time, and I wish you and Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy (oh, it's always a problem to write it full) all the best with 'Smutnice'! I hope that you'll have a lot of killer shows this year. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Thanks a lot for the intie! I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer all the details about our older albums, but it's been a really long long time. When our new album is out, give it a listen and let us know. Dive into the Stream, listen to the Elegy!

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Visit the Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-04-22 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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