NonserviaM “A Spectral Ascension” (2014, Self released)
First of all, a disclaimer: this band is from Penang, I know them very well, and I have seen them play live way too many times. For inasmuch as this could be interpreted as no fair review game, this is my personal opinion based on THE MUSIC, and not the people I usually hang out with. For this reason, this review is detailed, lengthy, and precise. Also, I paid for this CD.
“Non Serviam” was a popular album by Greek black metal band Rotting Christ, but there is no analogy between them and Penang’s band NonserviaM. The Malaysians might have taken the idea for their monicker to comply with the idea of “I will not serve”, more than follow the black metal howlings of the European band. This aspect is quite clear in the lyrics written by singer Leon Low, which set NonserviaM apart from most other Malaysian metal bands. Why? Because they are thoughtful, poetic and smart. With the highest point being the usage of the history of Ibrahim Libya and the Baling incidents in definite hymn “Martyrized”. In fact, in the CD’s booklet, characters from Siddartha Gautama the Buddha to Markus Zusak are cited to better contextualize the songs’ meanings. There’s no blatant, ripped off adherence to the great themes of cheesy metal here: Low grounds his vision into a forest of philosophical meanings he extrapolated from every corner of the world, and dishes them up poetically by reflecting on the quintessential oxymoron of religious devotion against the plethora of human sins.
A positive point, to me, is the way the vocals are pissed off but clear sounding, crisp, and totally intelligible. You can actually understand clearly most of what’s being said even without looking at the booklet’s transcriptions. Some people have complained that NonserviaM sounds too clean, and that Low’s vocals be clean and wimp, but I wouldn’t agree. He’s able to switch from more growled crescendos to a high-pitched, distinctive timbre that comes off as if you had an evil goblin perched on top of your left shoulder, who tries to pry his cold nose into your ear. At times, Low’s reminded me of a Dave Mustaine without the screech and with more testosterone, but this could just be my personal opinion. (more…)