Servile Sect [USA]
Servile Sect is one oddball (well, at least to me). Breaking the traditions of most extreme metal bands, Servile Sect, with their fourth album TRVTH has broken a number of boundaries, making it one of the oddest bands that I have listened to thus far. Unlike bands that I previously thought weird such as De Magia Veterum and Drug Honkey, TRVTH displays a blend between atmospheric/ambient music and black metal on the same record.
TRVTH begins with the first side, mostly featuring band mastermind, N’s atmospheric, ambient songwriting ability. The sounds of chiming bells, horns and crisp hand drums instantly teleports the listener into the middle of a procession, thereafter dumping and leaving him there for the remaining of the journey as soon as the seemingly joyous sounds fade into background noise and a more urgent and sinister atmosphere is introduced. A wall of noise then confronts the listener, droning on and testing and pushing the boundary of the listener’s sanity, slowly letting the listener fall into a trance, fixated on what’s going on beneath the droning noise on top. Each track on the first half of the album presents the same format, with a main wall of noise in the foreground and seemingly random sounds at the back, and certainly sets the stage well for the further aural assault that is to come.
Any semblance of sanity comes in only after the 20 minutes mark of the side 1, with (finally) simple drum beats and tortured screaming at the background, marking a transition and preparing the listener for the next segment on the album. The remaining 5 minutes of this side sounds like black metal in its rawest form, with vocals that sound so far away that the listener almost has to stretch to listen to it, backed by nothing but the drums and the same sound effects that have bludgeoned listeners for the past 20 minutes. Servile Sect then wastes no time on side 2, immediately introducing to listener black metal as we know it, cold and bleak, reminding listeners of Finnish bands like Satanic Warmaster. All criticisms of the band’s inability to play music are instantly taken back, as the wall of noise on the first side are replaced by furiously trem-picked riffs and intense drumming (the personal highlight), together with the tortured shrieks of N. The mindfuck already provided by the first side has somehow made side 2 sound normal and tame in comparison, but who’s complaining with the quality of the black metal blasting through the speakers?
It is not long, however, before the band goes back to the original style that has been presented to listeners on the first side after the 9:30 mark on side 2, and this certainly causes slight disappointment after the adrenaline rush provided with the initial 9 minutes of black metal. The band then surprises the listener after another 3 minutes of droning, with a soaring guitar tone breaking through the speakers into yet another black metal section, this time taking a more melodic and melancholic direction instead. This shift between black metal and noise continues for the remaining of the record, further messing with the listener’s mind.
Though the 2 different styles of music, being on extreme ends of the music spectrum, are not mashed together simultaneously (unlike the many industrial/black metal and atmospheric black metal bands), the ability to have them on the same record and the smooth transition between one style and the next have certainly been good ideas to enhance the atmosphere and ambience and overall experience of the album. While not a fan of music presented by such bands, it has led me to unconsciously revisit the album time and again.