Review Summary: The cold touch of death
A year after the release of the band's stellar debut, 'Non Serviam' was unleashed. At this point in time, Rotting Christ were still heavily undisclosed within the boundaries of extreme metal, awaiting their break into recognition. Yet, they were already delivering perplexingly good music, which, unbeknownst to them, would soon be considered some of the finest records in the genre.
Much like other Black Metal records at this time, the production quality was not immaculate by any means. It is conceivably worse than the previous record in some aspects, such as the drum tone, which sounds rather feeble when contrasted to the intertwining guitars. Nevertheless, like these other Black Metal classics, this record utilises the raw sound, which is complementary to the harsh instrumentals and vocals showcased.
Conjured from these raw qualities and harrowing use of synths in particular, is a candidly chilling atmosphere. This is the strongest aspect of the record, as an atmosphere this boreal is not easily found anywhere else. As the album progresses, the listener is kept confined in the frostbitten embrace until the very conclusion, demonstrating an admirable sense of consistency from the band.
Perhaps the succeeding efficacious quality of the record is the diversity presented from the instrumental performances. Throughout the duration of the album, various styles of extreme metal are exhibited, including Thrash, Black and Doom Metal. The latter can be observed on the title track and the intro of the meandering 'Mephesis of Black Crystal'. Due to this, there is no section of the record that falls into a monotonous state, further proving the maintenance of quality established from the outset. Whether it is during the snare pounding and choppy guitar riffs of 'Ice Shaped God', or the undulating solos of 'Wolfera the Jackal', Rotting Christ submerse the listener into their abyss of tenebrosity, enrapturing them throughout.
An incredible vocal performance is also produced on top of the outstanding instrumentals, correspondent to the atmosphere. As a result of the production, the piercing shrieks of Sakis are amplified in their malevolent tone to develop into a remarkably nefarious sound. Crushing growls are also bellowed, contrasting any melodies preceding them, and magnifying the heavier segments to become even more intense. As a whole, the vocals prove to be perfectly fitting for the rest of the record's characteristics.
As the band would prove later in their career, crafting a fantastic record is no simple task, yet they managed to fabricate one of great magnitude in a single year. Like all artists, they were given shards key to a potentially perfect album and left with them to do what they please, with the vast majority assembling them and missing pieces, displaying crippling flaws preventing them from being deemed classics. With 'Non Serviam', all the shards were brought together as a collective, each one serving another in painting a complete, glacial and eerie picture for the listener to behold. It is a haunting, cataclysmic and formidable experience, not to be missed by any fan of extreme metal alike.