The self-proclaimed “neurodivergent & anonymous extreme music collective” NON SERVIAM is beyond doubt one of the year’s darkest, unexpected, experimental and most deranged collections of multi-style metal, a surreal dystopian nightmare that is both terrifying and entrancing. Blending many different shades of genres like industrial, black metal, grindcore, baroque, doom, crust, and more, the band comes as a 100% DIY and non-profit collective that rely on passion to spread their music. Their new album “Le Cœur Bat” comes out soon on yet-to-be-announced independent label, and you can help them ease the pandemic caused struggles by contributing to this campaign, created to help them with the costs. Today, we’re giving you a deep insight into their work, along with a special, extensive track by track commentary below.
Non Serviam bio, by Maria Desmes:
Non Serviam produces a proliferating and protean music that seems to want to flush out the light from the darkness and detect the darkness from the light. If its overall structural coloration is electronic, it is blast-beats, screams, guitar and its distortion that come first in its intensity. This music, burning with urgency to explore varied and unheard sonic, verbal and rhythmic paths, unwinds the thread of its own uncompromising musical truth, constantly renewed by an insatiable curiosity. Both deeply autistic and irrepressibly driven by the vital necessity of the sonic encounter with those who, somewhere, will listen to it, this dark and sparkling music freely combines the fragile purity of a simple vibration that resonates to exhaustion and cathartic and Dionysian outburst, passing through moments of choral and polyphonic writing. The voices- -male, female, nonbinary, sometimes absent, sometimes shouted, whispered, sung–distort themselves while the guitar wails. Vocals and instrumentals are disrupted by a complex composition, mysteriously accessible despite its unconventional rhythmic structures, unafraid to free itself from technique, discovery, and raw improvisation and deliberately ignorant of any learning. This protest music, by its substance as much as its peripheral history, is part of the anarchist- -and therefore anti-commercial–tradition of the refusal of intellectual or artistic property and their commodification.
After various stints in hardcore punk bands, Non Serviam (derived from the Latin expression meaning «I will not serve» and traditionally attributed to Lucifer ) was born in the early 2000s in the south of France as a one-man electro and noise project by a hermit and then-undiagnosed autistic musician, far away from the musical scene that surrounds him, who found himself violently resistant to the unconditional and most often apolitical party spirit of the punk and metal scenes as well as to the reactionary ideologies that are still tenaciously abounding there today and in search of a destructive freedom of composition, deeply anti-moral, anti-religious and against all norms. From these solitary beginnings, the richness of a particularly wide musical impregnation (from Godflesh, Neurosis, Darkthrone and the Swans to Catharsis, Botch and Buried At Sea through Venetian Snares, PJ Harvey or Merzbow) is combined with an lively curiosity, allowing the band to open itself little by little to new experimentations through new members, including a musician with a baroque training whose instruments (harpsichord, spinet, organ) and a musical culture made of obstinate basses and improvisation by diminutions have been regularly added since 2018 with Non Serviam’s early influences.
Since then, Non Serviam has been passionately pursuing its convulsive musical path, generously open to the extreme and oxymoronic horizons that cross it. As much improvised as hyper composed, mixing very organic voices and rales from beyond the grave, poetic elaboration and cries of revolt, Non Serviam adds to their primary influences doom, sludge and black metal as well as shoegazing, drone and noise, going from a 200 BPM breakbeat to a demonic and very slowed down sludge. As bestial and primitive as it is elegant and ornate, both Leçons de ténèbres and a hymn to the vitality of revolt, Non Serviam brutalizes and soothes, moves, despairs and rejoices, and calls for a different way to continue the necessary attack on this world, its witch burners, and the lynch mob of circumstance (from the lyrics of « Salem »).
Non Serviam’s curiosity cabinet
Track 1 : Le Cœur Bat
“Le Cœur Bat” is a 25-minute song with a peculiar structure that always starts again, relentlessly, from that point where even mired in the deadly management of this world, beyond despair and nihilism, the heart still beats, and here it is a question of hearing it and echoing it in living revolts.
We wrote this song to address both the need to fight against this shitty world, and the mutual need for a physical or mental space in which rebellious people whose minds are not well set on the clock of normality can bring their creativity into the balance. We are not talking here about publicly guaranteed spaces of “inclusiveness” to buy social peace among the sleeping masses. We’re not talking about individual well-being or personal development or any of that trendy new age guru bullshit. We are talking about a fierce and total war against the forces of the state and capitalism. The text of the song also deals with the contradiction of nihilism. Whether we like it or not, we are nihilists, but we want to overcome this feeling that others would like to freeze in identity.
We want to show here a revolutionnary poster found on the walls of Paris and produced by an anti authoritarian initiative called « Le Cœur Bat – La possibilité singulière » (The Heart Beats – The Singular Possibility).
The text of this poster could be translated as follows:
“Why shouldn’t there be any more teenagers wild enough to instinctively refuse the grim future that is being prepared for them?” Annie Le Brun.
How did it become acceptable to be installed in this economic, intellectual and emotional misery? How did it become so tasty to lose one’s taste? How did the idea of freedom wither in the generalized placebo? What world have we left, and what world do we want to leave? As long as hearts are beating, it will always be possible to revolt until total freedom is achieved, until our nihilisms are defeated. Until we regain the taste. The heart still beats.
Track 2 : Infanticide
This song is about family oppression and the tension towards freedom, despite and against family. There are no emancipatory family forms, there is no salvation in that which is similar to us. The family teaches us obedience, respect for laws, tradition, pacification, impotence, the sick humility of misery and other forms of social reproduction. These are all qualities that this world demands of us if we are to remain slaves.
The film “We need to talk about Kevin”, which partly inspired this song and in which samples that we extracted from the film are included, is constructed in the form of disordered flash-backs all leading irremediably to a terrible drama whose nature will only be understood rather late, This aesthetically fascinating film has been violently criticized, in particular because it is so hard and psychologically brutal to handle while giving no simplistic and moralizing explanation on its subject (allowing some critics to make an interpretation of it, in our opinion, completely erroneous and reactionary). It explores pathogenic family ties. What happens when a loving relationship between a mother and her son is a failure from birth, when the sound of the jackhammer is preferred to that of the baby. Here, the ravages of a mother’s absence of love, of a father’s lack of presence, of defective mothering, and their links with the construction and birth of an incarnation of “evil” in all its banality are treated without filtering, and it is sometimes harder to hear and watch than a horror film would be (which this film is not), not because of gory or shocking images, but because of intolerable social relationships. A few “banal” mistreatments, bloodless looks, oblique mouths, nothing really thunderous before an appalling finale. It’s like the family, this horror that is not a film.
Here is an excerpt from the film we have chosen, it shows the small arrangements between the family, the medical profession and society to marginalize its most autistic elements, transforming them into figures of evil or impotence, or future scapegoats for social peace.
Track 3 : Nights in Black Masses (Interlude)
It is only at night that there is a rumour that allows only those lovers who know how to pray with sacred love for the profane fire to burn and destroy boredom. The lovers of freedom must take action, the night is appointed for them. For the forces of law and order are rarer there to prevent the acts of love of our anarchist black masses. Attack, fuck, love, destroy and commit as many crimes as possible.
Track 4 : Salem
Salem is not an idiotic call for tolerance, an end to hostilities or love of neighbor. These are not the things we wish to oppose to this sadism inherent in human social relations.
It is a question of examining what hatred of the other or of oneself does and makes bodies and minds do, of oneself or of others, even before understanding, analyzing and judging it. It is a question of seeing it and saying it, in words or in music, and reading or listening to it, of feeling what it is like to live it, in one’s flesh.
We have chosen to recall here, for this article, a historical testimony from 1552. “Thus I have seen, thus I tell”. It does not matter that Bartolomeo de Las Casas was a Dominican priest sent on mission to the “new world”. What he saw there of the ignoble mass acts perpetrated by those settlers of which he was a part, he will remain stunned for decades to come and will tell the story of this nightmare that leaves him hallucinating in detail, at length, even before analyzing it, as if to try to make sure that the memory of what is being destroyed and of the inhuman humanity that perpetuates this destruction is perhaps kept alive. Reading this story today, seriously, is much more than a moral lesson, it is to see the modest veil of human horror being opened so that we can imagine that this world is livable.
This surplus of hatred, which has been applied in a terrible way at certain moments in history against all those who are too different, is already there too, as soon as otherness is scorned, sadized, in all the logics of scapegoating, or harassment, as soon as it is a question of destroying the Other because he is not the same as oneself, and even when it is in oneself, this Other becomes unbearable, and then one becomes the executioner, circulating torture, in oneself, and around others, chained, like Prometheus once defeated, in a psychic and physical punitive suffering always started over again.
Here is a short extract from A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, by Bartolome de las Casas:
They snatcht young Babes from the Mothers Breasts, and then dasht out the brains of those innocents against the Rocks; others they cast into Rivers scoffing and jeering them, and call’d upon their Bodies when falling with derision, the true testimony of their Cruelty, to come to them, and inhumanely exposing others to their Merciless Swords, together with the Mothers that gave them Life.
They erected certain Gibbets, large, but low made, so that their feet almost reacht the ground, every one of which was so order’d as to bear Thirteen Persons in Honour and Reverence (as they said blasphemously) of our Redeemer and his Twelve Apostles, under which they made a Fire to burn them to Ashes whilst hanging on them: But those they intended to preserve alive, they dismiss’d, their Hands half cut, and still hanging by the Skin, to carry their Letters missive to those that fly from us and ly sculking on the Mountains, as an exprobation of their flight.
The Lords and Persons of Noble Extract were usually expos’d to this kind of Death; they order’d Gridirons to be placed and supported with wooden Forks, and putting a small Fire under them, these miserable Wretches by degrees and with loud Shreiks and exquisite Torments, at last Expir’d.
I once saw Four or Five of their most Powerful Lords laid on these Gridirons, and thereon roasted, and not far off, Two or Three more over-spread with the same Commodity, Man’s Flesh; but the shril Clamours which were heard there being offensive to the Captain, by hindring his Repose, he commanded them to be strangled with a Halter. The Executioner (whose Name and Parents at Sevil are not unknown to me) prohibited the doing of it; but stopt Gags into their Mouths to prevent the hearing of the noise (he himself making the Fire) till that they dyed, when they had been roasted as long as he thought convenient. I was an Eye-Witness of these and and innumerable Number of other Cruelties: And because all Men, who could lay hold of the opportunity, sought out lurking holes in the Mountains, to avoid as dangerous Rocks so Brutish and Barbarous a People, Strangers to all Goodness, and the Extirpaters and Adversaries of Men, they bred up such fierce hunting Dogs as would devour an Indian like a Hog, at first sight in less than a moment: Now such kind of Slaughters and Cruelties as these were committed by the Curs, and if at any time it hapned, (which was rarely) that the Indians irritated upon a just account destroy’d or took away the Life of any Spaniard, they promulgated and proclaim’d this Law among them, that One Hundred Indians should dye for every individual Spaniard that should be slain.
Here is another curiosity that we would like to add to this cabinet, and which inspired Salem. This poem by Charles Baudelaire is called Heauton Timoroumenos (The Man Who Tortures Himself), translated by William Aggeler from The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954).
I shall strike you without anger
And without hate, like a butcher,
As Moses struck the rock!
And from your eyelids I shall make
The waters of suffering gush forth
To inundate my Sahara.
My desire swollen with hope
Will float upon your salty tears
Like a vessel which puts to sea,
And in my heart that they’ll make drunk
Your beloved sobs will resound
Like a drum beating the charge!
Am I not a discord
In the heavenly symphony,
Thanks to voracious Irony
Who shakes me and who bites me?
She’s in my voice, the termagant!
All my blood is her black poison!
I am the sinister mirror
In which the vixen looks.
I am the wound and the dagger!
I am the blow and the cheek!
I am the members and the wheel,
Victim and executioner!
I’m the vampire of my own heart
— One of those utter derelicts
Condemned to eternal laughter,
But who can no longer smile!
Track 5 : S’Evaporer (Instrumental)
Trying to get out from above, getting too close to the sun, and inevitably falling back to the ground of depression and anxiety, because this world, family, school, work, have already cut off the wings to which we aspire yet, but to attempt the liberating flight again, to the point of death or exhaustion, is the fate of all those who live in the depths of their bodies and hearts, the miserable situation of yearning for freedom in a world that produces nothing but money, prisons and cops.
Organes Suspendus and Bombe H are two other pieces that explores the same themes as S’Evaporer and was conceived at the same time. We produced a video for both of these songs, which we offer here to see because the images depicted in them relate directly to the same visions. These tracks will be published in a future record, reinterpreted and mixed again:
Track 6 : I Watch You From Afar
This song is about the society of control in which we live. Whether it’s the armed forces of control, control of one by one, control of all against all. Control, its totalitarian will, its deadly technologies, its self-sufficiency, freewheeling. For this song, we chose two different items, a full text and an excerpt from a movie.
First of all, we suggest you read this short story by Kafka by following this link. It’s the story of a traveller – you or me – listens to an officer – you or me, too – enthusiastically describing to him the functioning of a punishment machine that carries out the sentence by slowly writing the verdict on the body of the condemned man – you or me, again before the eyes of many spectators, – you and me, always. The roles are interchanged in a specular system of control and punishment that only the destruction of the machine could put an end to. The painfully premonitory nature of this short story that Kafka wrote at the very beginning of the First World War has often been noted, but, in addition to a striking prefiguration of the cold horror of the Nazi extermination enterprise, it is a representation of the human condition, locked between sadism and masochism, torturing and tortured under the panoptic gaze of control and punishment.
Next, we invite you to enjoy a collage of some beautiful and inspiring images produced by Chris Marker in his short silent film The Pier (which we invite you to watch in its entirety as soon as possible).
Track 7 : Inno Individualista (Cover)
Inno Individualista is a traditional and anonymous anarchist song that was dated in 1901. Here is a previous version and probably our favorite one :
In this link, you can discover the lyrics and jump from a language to the other (from the original in italian to english, french or hebrew).
Here’s a video that we with tribute to angry traces of fire and struggle from around the world (the video version of the song is slightly different from the album version):
Track 8 : Je Contre (Demo)
The ancient poet Horace wanted to erect for us a poetic monument whose solidity and reasoned balance would defy the wear and tear of time and the erosion of the ages. Michaux projects, against him, for and against us, cities that are also fortresses, made of impalpable materials, sounds, fog and smoke, at war with this world, its language, its conventional art, its religion, its music, its poetry. In this war that has been going on since the dawn of time, between that which fixates and that which changes, that which knows and that which experiments, that which weighs and that which evaporates, that which contains and that which explodes, Non serviam has chosen its side.
As for me, I’ll build you a city out of rags!
Without blueprint or cement I’ll raise up a building
Such as you’ll never destroy,
And holding it up, filling it out,
There’ll be a curdling, boiling, self-evident truth
To bray under your noses
And under the frozen noses of all your Parthenons and Arabian art and Ming vases.
With smoke and diluted fog
And the sound of drumskins
I’ll pitch for you fortresses, glorious, overpowering,
Fortresses made all of agitation and shocks,
And your ancient order of things and all your geometry
Will crumble against them into rot and rubbish and meaningless grains of sand.
I’ll ring a passing knell, knell, knell on you all, annihilation on all the living!
Yes! I believe in God! Not that he knows I do!
Faith is an indestructible shoe for the non-walker.
Oh world, strangled world, chilled belly!
Not even a symbol; just nothingness, I’ll double, I’ll double the stakes,
I’ll double and cram you full with dead dogs,
I’ll wrest tons from you, yes, tons,
Instead of the ounces you refused me.
A faithful friend to the serpent is his venom,
He knows how faithful and what it’s worth to him.
Follow me, brothers, my damned brothers, trust me and follow me.
The wolf’s teeth are firm in his mouth
While the sheep’s flesh can be torn from the bones.
Our eyes shall see in the dark, brothers.
We shall find the way through the labyrinth.
Unwanted carcass, pissing nuisance, broken old pot,
Whining pulley, just wait till you fell the taut cords of the four worlds!
Ah! How I shall rend you then and quarter you!
HENRI MICHAUX (1961)
Translated by Cecily Mackworth
More Lasting than Bronze
Exegi monumentum aere perennius
reglalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non aquilo impotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
5 annorum series et fuga tempoum.
Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei
vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera
crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.
10 Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
regnavit poplulorum, ex humili potens,
princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
15 quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.
I have created a monument more lasting than bronze
and loftier than the royal structure of the pyramids,
that which neither devouring rain, nor the unrestrained North Wind
may be able to destroy nor the immeasurable
succession of years and the flight of time.
I shall not wholly die and a greater part of me
will evade Libitina [Goddess of Death]; continually I,
newly arisen, may be strengthened with ensuing praise so long
as the high priest climbs the Capitoline with the silent maiden.
It may be said that where the raging Aufidus roars
and where, short of water, Daunus ruled his rustic people,
powerful from a humble birth, I first brought Aeolian verse
to Italian measures. Assume the arrogance
sought for by those who have a claim to recognition,
and with the Delphian laurel,
Melpomene, willingly crown my head.