Album Review: Servers – “Ad Nauseam”
In a crowded musical marketplace it’s tough to stand out, yet bands have often made an impression through anonymity, finding novel ways to let the music do the talking. Take Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Ghost, even Daft Punk; for each act individual identity has come second to the band’s ethos and the show they put on. Cue Servers, four hooded gentlemen from darkest Yorkshire who are continuing to put the tunes front and centre with third album Ad Nauseam.
Now seven years into their existence, Servers are the sort of band who have a habit of writing some seriously addictive heavy music, welding together samples and programming, a mysterious, lowly-lit stage presence and a whole bunch of cultish lyricism into one of the most unique sounds you’ll hear across today’s scene. Opener Blind Faith and lead single Watch You Bleed are perfect examples of this, the former an urgent Sisters of Mercy-esque goth romp, whilst the latter is a furious leviathan of a track during which vocalist/guitarist Lee Storrar and accomplice Jamie Beatson sling riffs at each other like musical warlocks.
Even when the band slow down the pace, the darkness certainly remains, and Storrar’s distorted vocals on Beneath Me lend the track an otherworldly vibe that gets quite hypnotic as the song switches from lilting keys to thunderous instrumentation, almost heading into Tears For Fears territory along the way. Similarly, with the caustic Hidden Sensors, the singer’s howl and a bludgeoning rhythm section help to build an impassioned yet sinister tale of domination, loss and yearning. It’s a set of themes that continues to build from the motifs first set out on 2016’s Manson Family-dabbling Everything Is OK, and helps tell these particular tales from the perspective of both the controller and the controlled through a batch of hugely thought-provoking songs.
In Death is the noise you hoped Paradise Lost would have made when they went a bit bonkers post-One Second, while The Cellar‘s creeping doom couples a monumental chorus and solo as drums crash around like a sea of elephants. It’s a typically big-sounding outing from the band, yet it never becomes overblown, and contains an irresistible melody that’ll stick around long after the song’s four and a half minute duration. The departure of founding drummer Ant Nettleship certainly hasn’t derailed the band, and the recruitment of former Black Spiders sticksman Si Atkinson has proven to be a great choice; listening to the new kid pummelling away fits the Servers sound perfectly and gives closing track CirclE5 a galloping pace akin to Metallica’s classic thrash era.
Produced by Jim Pinder (the busy lad who recently took charge of the new Wildhearts album), Ad Nauseam continues to evolve the band’s sound and although there’s perhaps less noticeable electronica this time out (with the focus more on precision and power), a bit of G.U. Medicine swagger and goth opulence alongside big riffs and Storrar’s distinctive vocals continue to make Servers an addictive listen.
Melodic, dark, emotive and passionate, Ad Nauseam is Servers coming of age. Although their bleakness creates a sense of sorrow, there's an irresistible majesty here and it's a natural next step for the band, whilst showing just how heavy they can be on their most powerful outing yet.