posted on 4/2008 By:
I like weird. Weird works for me. Squirrels water-skiing, people modifying their faces to look like cats, Crispin Glover, TV Funhouse, and feral children: all fine examples of people/things that I believe "do" weird well. What I'm not particularly fond of, however, are cases where we find "weird just for the sake of being weird": a fine line that obviously differs from person to person, and a line that's admittedly rather difficult to distinguish at times. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Gallagher, and dudes who split their dick in half as a body modification are all prime examples for me that reek of overly manufactured weirdness, as opposed to the much more captivating innate oddness flashed by the earlier examples.
The same rules obviously apply in the land of music. And while all genres have certainly dipped their toes into the pool of peculiarity from time-to-time, no branch has underlined weirdness more than the often-wacky world of black metal. Unfortunately, this has also opened the doors to a wide array of projects that take advantage of black metal fans' penchant for the strange, resulting in works that come across as concoctions simply intended to test thresholds; almost as if the members themselves are sitting back and giggling as they watch people swallow their spiel and burn their hard-earned cash to hell (*cough*Velvet Cacoon*cough*). Welcome to the world brought to us courtesy of the latest endeavor from France's Wolok...
Servum Pecus (rough translation: "Servant Herd") simply tries too hard to be strange. This is very archaic, lo-fi black metal shoved through a huge flange filter in order to try and "up" the sickish feel. 43-minutes of clickity-clickity-clackity drums that sound like they're being played by a small wind-up monkey; mostly bee-swarming riffing that occasionally breaks into a misfired chunka-chunka tin-crunch (the choppy riff that repeats throughout the overly long "Mankind Euthanasia" makes me want to saw my own head off); vocals chiefly quacked from a duck with strep-throat; and generous use of extremely wavy, highly effected keyboard bloops, blips, and swirls intended to leave you seeing the world through the bottom of a NyQuil shot glass. Funny thing is, any of these things can actually work quite well when done in the right hands (see Furze as an excellent example of how to do black metal birthed from a sickbed justly), but Wolok lay the wavy sickness and bonkers on so damned thick here, it makes a number of these tunes down-right unlistenable. As it stands, the only cut I'd consider to be a ripper amongst the bunch would be "Apex of Mockery", and that's simply because the keys and effects take more of a back seat.
What's interesting is that I actually own and occasionally spin the band's last full-length, 2004's Universal Void: a record that maintained the elementary straight-forwardness that's still at the heart of Servum Pecus, but toned down the goofy keyboard blooping and overall flu-ish mood. But then, maybe I'm the one off his rocker; this work apparently garnered enough attention to warrant a reissue through Insidious Poisoning Records. It's a real head-scratcher, if you ask me. As far as I'm concerned, the best part about Servum Pecus is the kick-ass album cover.
Bottom line: I'd recommend you save your cash for something far less unpleasant, unless that's something that really blows your hair back.
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