Non Serviam – Le Coeur Bat Review

It’s not uncommon for fans of metal to lovingly describe an album as a “tough listen.” There are releases and sometimes entire discographies that can only be appreciated once a specific taste has been acquired. Given enough time and the right mindset though, what once may have been a shock to the system can become as comfortable as slipping into a warm bath or taking off a virus-splattered mask at the end of a long day. Don’t take my word for it; you don’t have to look far to spot avant-garde, genre-fluid bands like Imperial Triumphant gaining attention and garnering praise. This line of thought kept recurring again and again as I listened to Non Serviam’s latest release Le Coeur Bat. This anonymous French musical collective would certainly fall into the category of a “tough listen” as I’ve defined it. But does their newest reward the efforts of the listener, or is this a taste not worth acquiring?

I can say this with confidence: it’s certainly a taste, I’m just not sure of what. The promotional material declares Le Coeur Bat to be a “sonic collage of experimental, black, doom, grindcore, crust and industrial,” but I also heard plenty of other genres in the mix, including (but not limited to) electronica, ambient, drone, noise, sludge, spoken-word and others I’m sure snuck past my amp-bludgeoned ears. Each of these, it must be said, makes an appearance on the titular “Le Couer Bat,” a 25-minute hulking brute of an opener that sets the groundwork for the cacophonous soundscapes to follow. Were you looking for a sonic sojourn brimming with distorted spoken-word segments, synths, shrieks, sound effects, electronic beats, and ethereal vocals, sometimes all at once? Then you’ve come to the right place, and you need to get a ride home. This is a template (and an issue) that reoccurs, albeit at shorter lengths and to varying degrees of extremity. But like gulping a bag full of Jelly Bellys, you’re getting every flavor at once, only instead of exciting, it’s nauseating.

I can’t help but suspect this is at least partially by design. Indeed, the promo text states that Non Serviam have produced a “psychosis inspiring album.” While any and all marketing bluster should be taken with a grain of salt, there is some truth here. Like any good psychotic episode, Le Coeur Bat left me feeling confused, uncertain and waiting for it to end. While the industrial, sludgy thickness during the closing moments of “Infanticide,” the frenetic, black metal gang-chants on “Inno Individualista” and a dozen other moments pique an interest, the album as a whole suffers from unrepentant monotony, playing out over an hour like the soundtrack to an art house film I would never get an invite to see. Le Coeur Bat is an album overflowing with atmosphere, experimentation, and bold choices. There’s also defiant, firmly-held political beliefs built into the very DNA of this album, as the promo material attests. But none of these things, laudable as they may be, change the fact that Le Coeur Bat is less triumph and more trudge.

And yet that guitar tone. It isn’t front and center, and often it’s lost in the maelstrom of other instruments, voices and samples, but it’s there, and when it hits, you feel it. Some of the stronger tracks feature this muddy, grungy, absolutely filthy guitar that steals the show every time it rears its grimy head. I took note every time it popped up in the mix, providing some much-needed grounding to a series of musical collages that otherwise feel entirely untethered. It may seem quaint, but that singular, murky guitar was a welcome breath of fresh air amidst such a discordant miasma.

Non Serviam’s latest is a testament to the genre-bending abilities of metal. This anonymous extreme music collective have indeed produced a “tough listen,” but one that doesn’t seem to offer up any rewards on repeat listens. Indeed, Le Coeur Bat is an acquired taste; one I’ve tested and found lacking. That’s not to say that there aren’t AMG readers who will find this album right up their alley; I’m sure there are. But as for me, it just won’t serve.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Code666
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

« »