Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Arch Angel:" Satanic power ballad?



One normally thinks of Gothenburg melodeath as far removed from black metal, but in Sweden the two styles were really just opposite extremes of the same spectrum. At one end we have the dumb but sometimes fun metal of early In Flames, on the other, the vicious cold riffing of later Dissection. It's just that we've forgotten about the bands in the middle, who were too harsh and Satanic for melodeath but a little too polished or palm-muted to qualify as true black metal.

Non Serviam were such a band. Their albums are kind of underwhelming, but the band's legacy lives on in the song "Arch Angel." This should've been a hit single, or something. The riffing has the consonant harmony and epic inflections of the Gothenburg sound, but it's played in a totally black metal way. In a way, it comes off like Rotting Christ. What this REALLY is, though, is a black metal version of hair metal. It reminds me of the minor-key tracks by Motley Crue or Def Leppard, the ones where they're being "sad" or "angry" but still basically just rocking out in a huge way. It's dumb, kind of gay, and totally fucking awesome.

The ridiculous lyrics help:

"Oh mighty angel, fallen from the sky
Can't you see the tears in my eyes?
The morning star brings me light
And I kneel in reverence and I cry for you"

This is really wussy shit. It could almost be emo, but the emotion is too intense, the Satanic devotion too sincere (the following lyrics are about carving the pentagram in one's skin). Like the best hair metal, it's campy and tough at the same time. The vocalist sounds like he's breathing fucking fire, and he really helps this rise above "sellout attempt."

In short, this is poppy black metal done right. Perfect for quaffing a goblet of blood as you redo your eyeliner.

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