Sound — 10
Rotting Christ's second album, 1995's "Non Serviam" (meaning "I will not serve" in Latin), is not their best but is an OK follow-up to their 1993 debut "Thy Mighty Contract". Released over a year after it's predecessor, an album monumental in it's own right, a good place to begin speaking of "Non Serviam" is probably to describe exactly how it differs from what came before. I think it is safe to say that on this particular record Rotting Christ have really honed their art to a fine and individual craft. They sound a little less like Varathron this time (even though there were still definite differences in the approach of the two bands in the past) while retaining a decidedly Helenic approach to riff construction. The riffs themselves are really where the difference lies, as well as the keyboards, but I'll get to the latter shortly. Whenever I play "Non Serviam", I find myself entering a very receptive state of mind and simply being taken on a journey with the music. Each song fits together into the cohesive whole of the record, each riff and trance-inducing pattern keenly etching itself onto the sensory cortex of a recippient brain. There are often three guitars at work here, churning out layered melodies one after the other and playing off each other so marvelously, with even more subtlety and skill than was exhibited on the previous opus.
Lyrics — 7
There are no highlights on the album because it's firmly a whole work and not a collection of songs. Whether it's the menacing and doom-laden warning of "morality of a Dark Age", the fist-raising anthem of strength that is the title opus, or the hauntingly reflective closer "Saturn Unlock Avey's Son", if you enjoy one piece you'll not be able to avoid being drawn into the whole album. I suppose I do have a most favoured track, though, and that might be "Where Mortals Have No Pride", which seems almost like an amalgamation of everything that Rotting Christ can deliver at this point in their evolution. Several minutes of repetitive, blasting riffs with a sneaking and winding degree of variation creeping into the fray, followed by one of the most exquisite and strong Greek-styled heavy metal riffs around (the previous album was full of forceful melodies like this, but they are used more sparingly here) which descends into an achingly beautiful slow passage consisting of a simple and extended set of chords overlaid with soaring leads. It's gorgeous, in a way that I find remarkably difficult to describe, which is largely how I feel about the album as a whole. "Non Serviam" marks an end of sorts to a ban'ds progress to an unbreechable pinnacle, and although I wouldn't dispute claims by some that previous works were in some ways superior (though I don't really agree) I don't think anyone could credibly claim that the subsequent Rotting Christ material could ever hope to achieve what this album does so definitively and successfully.
Overall Impression — 9
I would probably could compare this album to At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul", Carcass' "Heartwork", Obituary's "Cause of Death" or one of Death's first four albums from 1987-1991, anything by Bathory, Mercyful Fate (or King Diamond), Testament, Entombed or some old Slayer (like "Show No Mercy" or "Hell Awaits"). "Non Serviam" is one of those unfortunate albums which need years to gain some popularity. Even Sakis said in interviews that they had to rush the mastering process of the album and he feels that "Non Serviam" is one of Rotting Christ's weaker albums. Though it is disappointing that the band somewhat went astray in later years (though they always retained the same influences, more or less), and that there really aren't too many albums like this around, at least we have masterpieces like this one that will never be buried nor forgotten. Other than that, this album shows one of Rotting Christ's rawest, coldest and most aggressive display of talent. I recommend it to all fans of Black Metal, even though it probably won't appeal to fans of polished, pretentious BM.