Added 18 November 2013, 4:07 PM
Metal is a global phenomenon – that much is obvious, and adjustably empirical. Death Metal bands in Nepal? Check. Zimbabwe? Check. Even freaking North Korea seems to have a group or two of debauched, Metal-worshipping headbangers. I Googled around, and yeah, maybe there isn’t any foolproof evidence that East Timor and Antigua and Barbuda have Metalheads wandering around in their breezy climate, but maybe it’s just an island nation thing. (Although, if you do know such bands, be sure to let us at Metal Temple know!)
Southeast Asia is a region that is seeing its Metal scene and industry grow slowly but bountifully over the past few years. Traditionally, Indonesia has always been the leader in the region for its teeming Metal scene, overshadowing its cultural neighbor (or contender, but I’m a peace-loving hippie so bear with me), Malaysia. Thankfully, Malaysia’s breakthrough point may finally be here. Our very own NONSERVIAM,
hailing from Penang (don’t worry, I won’t go into a geography lesson here) have been nominated for a Global Metal Apocalypse Award
in the category of Best Breakthrough Asian band.
The enormity of this news is pleasantly surprising and evidently gratifying, especially since it was through a public polling system that NONSERVIAM
even got nominated. For those who are not aware, Global Metal Apocalypse is a UK-based webzine run with the purpose to discover and promote Metal bands in the global scene. NONSERVIAM
’s vocalist Leon Low said the fact that readers of Global Metal Apocalypse actually know of the existence and work of his band was a real “slap in the face”, but in a good way of course.
NONSERVIAM recently just released their EP, “Ordinance of Reason”, and their debut full-length album, “A Spectral Ascension”, is set to follow up soon, perhaps in early 2014.
“I must say that we've come a long way, and it feels really great to see our iron-willed determination, soul-investing efforts, and years of hard work finally paying off. Ultimately, it's just flattering to know that the global Metal community acknowledges our humble brand of Melodic Death Metal,” he said.
This “global recognition” can only prompt an upward surge for the scene in Malaysia, one that is direly needed in a time of religious clamp-downs and restrictions against foreign acts playing here. Just a few months ago, LAMB OF GOD was denied their visas
to perform here by the Malaysian government, who called them “Satanic”.
“I would like to see this nomination as a motivational-boost for fellow my Malaysian Metal comrades. Personally, I believe many of them have great talent, musicianship and potential,” Low said, adding that many local bands are clouded by the perception that they can never be as great as European or American bands, thus often succumbing to bouts of demotivation and unproductiveness.
“As long as your efforts are invested unconditionally for the glory of extreme art, the word ‘impossible’ is just a myth,” he said.
The Malaysian Metal scene had its roots in the early 80's, where quite a number of Heavy Metal bands emerged emulating the rock gods of Metal’s heyday in the US. Bands like SEARCH
became quite popular for their sweeping ballads and anthemic pounders, usually sung in Malay. For a more extreme caliber, there were bands like BLACKFIRE,
lauded as one of Southeast Asia’s first extreme Metal bands, and also one of the first bands to sing Black Metal in Malay. Fast forward a few years, and Thrash/Death Metal bands such as CROMOK
and SIL KHANNAZ
swept the scene, birthing the foundations of Malaysia’s modern Metal scene.
Dark times soon enveloped the local scene though, when the Malaysian government launched a crusade against Metal music in the early 2000s, deriding all forms of Metal as “Satanic” and “morally debauched”, fearing that the Muslim youth in Malaysia would fall into the “entrapments” of Metal and start practicing immorality (even though everyone knows immorality does not need Metal to be practiced), resulting in bands such as BLACKFIRE
being banned and Metal shows all over the nation being stomped out.
This puerile and unfounded extremism that religion can often exude is an issue that rings true with the message of NONSERVIAM’s
music, what with influences such as George Carlin, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and even Epicurus guiding their lyrics. Even the name of the band is taken from ROTTING CHRIST
’s 1994 release “Non Serviam”
, a Latin phrase from the Bible which means “I will not serve”, purportedly referencing Satan’s refusal to serve god.
However, Low is confident that Malaysia will soon be one of the beacons for Metal across the globe where great new music can be discovered and appreciated.
Describing NONSERVIAM’s sound, Low said: “We’re very much a Melodic Death Metal band, driven by a continuous aspiration to craft a unique sound: an amalgamation of Thrash, Black, Progressive, and Doom Metal, all being condensed into a Death Metal vortex forged from pure hate and sheer melancholia.”
And perhaps NONSERVIAM’s nomination as Breakthrough Asian band is a kickstarter to increased global recognition of the Malaysian scene. A number of quality acts have been making their way down to this peninsula, and it’s a trend we can only hope religious extremism does not stamp out. Whatever it is, Malaysian Metalheads all around are glad to be represented in these awards and naturally, only hope for a brighter future for our scene.