Sunday, July 23, 2023

Non Serviam - Between Light and Darkness (1997)

Non Serviam was another Invasion Records act which was attempting to service a number of the dominant Scandinavian metal trends of the time, without falling too much into a single category. Certainly there is a giant amount of Dark Tranquillity or At the Gates going into this debut, from the melodic riffing heavily reminiscent of the former, to the main rasped vocal that resembles Lindberg. At the same time, they were obviously immersed in the melodic black metal of peers like Dissection, Dawn and Dissection, so you have these two represented in about equal measure through Between Light and Darkness, without either one ever winning out, and both performed competently enough that anyone who was seeking out some of the same on either end might have have a go at this for a couple weeks when it was new.

As for myself, I don't particularly enjoy the production throughout this debut, it's snarly and does the job enough to make out all the riffs and instruments, but feels a little dry and depthless. The keys and bass guitars sound decent, the drums a little too splashy, and the vocals feel a bit plain when they are supposed to be spitting such vitriol. Non Serviam was not a band that lacked competence in the riffs, and the selections here were passable for either of the main styles wound through this, but often they come off as bland and predictable. There are quite a few that feel like pure heavy metal progressions (as in the title track), but these have just been done before elsewhere and better. The synthesizers were wisely just used for some emphasis on atmosphere, but even then they seem a little dull, they border on transforming the album into pure symphonic black metal in places but never quite arrive.

There are also some obnoxious clean vocals that pop up ("Satan's Spree") which aren't necessarily a bad idea on paper, but come off a little rough. However, once can't really deny some of the positives to this one, like the excellent bass playing or the kind of dark, dingy mood to which they twine these styles together. Between Light and Darkness has lots of potential, and they'll have another chance to manifest that, but I usually only listen to this one in small bursts, it's just not an album I wanna visit from one end to the other. Still, if you're basically a living encyclopedia for all these Swedish sounds of yore, this is one you might want to at least sample since it forms like a nexus of so much of what was happening in that scene in the mid 90s.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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