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Theoharis (Hail Spirit Noir)

Interview with Theoharis from Hail Spirit Noir
by Vagelis "Vagelan" Tiflopoulos at 28 May 2012, 3:07 AM

HAIL SPIRIT NOIR from Greece is a new force in the European Metal scene. Their diversity that channels a fresh breeze in Black Metal towards progressive ends sent a clear message that the coming road will be intriguing. Vagelan had a chance to talk to Theoharis, guitars / vocals, about the band’s debut album “Pneuma”, the roots of the band and his personal perceptions regarding Metal, their philosophical ideas and music. 

Hey guys, how are you doing? It is good to have you for an interview on Metal-Temple.

Hello and thank you for this opportunity. All is well in the Noir camp.

How is HAIL SPIRIT NOIR going on today?

At the moment we are just blown away by the reaction to the album. Other than that we are trying to put together a line-up for live appearances. Right now promoting and touring for the album are our main objectives and every possible effort is being put towards the latter.

Congratulations for your first album “Pneuma”. I like it very much and I think that is a very good debut album for a newborn band like you. How it is received so far?

Thank you, we're glad people seem to like it as much as they do. It was important for us to start with a really good debut so that we can build on that. We took our time in putting it together because when Haris first came to Dim and me with the idea we knew it would be something completely out of the box. Once the first songs began coming together, we already had a vision formed for it and we took it from there. We knew we had something good in our hands but you can never predict the way people are going to feel about it. We were totally taken aback with the enthusiasm it's been received so far. Acceptance was never the point but admittedly it does feel good to know that your efforts are being appreciated. Despite this being our debut, we approached it just like we would have it been our third or fourth album. We worked really hard as there was no point in releasing something we felt was subpar. We paid attention to every little possible detail and it has paid off. That being said, this is merely the beginning. The Noir Spirit is always lurking.

I read that you mixed your album in ROTTING CHRIST’s Lunatech Studios, so what is your relation with them? Have them inspired you or help you with your album?

Let me clarify things a bit. ROTTING CHRIST's latest album, "Aealo", was produced in Lunatech Studios but they do not own it. The man behind Lunatech is Dim Douvras, ex-member of FUNERAL REVOLT and currently one half of SIVASIX. We have worked with Dim before for our other bands, TRANSCENDING BIZZARE? and REX MUNDI, so he was an obvious choice. His help was of great importance as he helped with our experimentation sound wise and contributed a lot to the final sound of the album. ROTTING CHRIST have been an inspiration not musically so much but in the work ethic they've displayed over the years and all the difficulties Sakis had to overcome to keep the band alive. In that sense, they have helped the entire Greek scene and paved the way for us younger bands. We have nothing but respect for them

I also read that the mastering of the album became by Jens Bogren, a very notable metal producer who worked with great bands like OPETH, and KATATONIA, how did you reach with him how was the cooperation with him and what was his opinion about your music?

We contacted Jens via e-mail and sent him a couple of tracks explaining what we were after. He was very enthusiastic about the project and we couldn't have been happier. Jens has shown that he has a keen ear for spacious, open sounds and in every record he's produced , be it Townsend's “Deconstruction”, OPETH's 70s tinged albums or PARADISE LOST's atmospheric works, he's managed to dress it in a sound unique to it. One of our main goals with the album was to create an atmosphere not unlike that of 70s horror films and their soundtracks through a Prog Rock via Black Metal point of view. With Douvras we managed to get all the sounds we wanted and create the vision we had in mind. Jens, then, added his touch and made it louder and bigger and thus that much more effective. Working with him was quite easy as we traded ideas back and forth and achieved a result satisfying both sides. It was an honor working with him.

Why did you choose HAIL SPIRIT NOIR for the name of your band? It means something to you? Do you consider yourselves as worried music spirits?

We needed a moniker that captured the atmosphere of the album but also had a little mysterious ring to it. After taking a look at the lyrics we noticed that in every song the dark side of those involved rises to power in the end. Plus, we had already decided on the painting by Jesse Pepper for the cover that featured a spirit-like figure and it all came together quite nicely. Its praise to the darkness in our everyday lives that goes unnoticed and yet it's what makes the world go round. I don't if we're worried but I've have definitely not stopped listening to new music and new bands. Contrary to popular belief there still masterpieces being released. Not all good music was released twenty years ago. Well ok, maybe most of it but still….. hehe. There are bands out there that put out stuff that take music in general a step forward. What music in general, not just Metal, needs is risks otherwise it will die a horrible death of repetition.

How do you see the Metal scene in Greece? Many good bands like ROTTING CHRIST, FIREWIND, SEPTIC FLESH showed the way… Are there other hopeful new Metal bands in Greece which are able to help the country reborn again through the ashes from the recent economic crisis?

Unfortunately, the crisis is not recent its ongoing and that's why there are no ashes to rise out of yet. We're still burning and I really can't predict how long it will take before the flames die out. There's little chance the upcoming election will change anything as it will probably be the same under a different guise. It's quite surprising how easy it is for Greeks to forget what has come before, just like a goldfish. I don't know maybe the public is still numb and maybe I'm wrong about the outcome, in fact I really hope so. Maybe that's good place for Greek bands to draw inspiration from as all good art comes in times of suffering, isn't that what they say? As far as new bands go, with TRANSCENDING BIZZARE?, SYNHESTHESIA and REX MUNDI we are doing our part to get ahead and follow in the steps of the bands you mentioned. There are also great bands that feature none of us heh. THY DARKENED SHADE, AGNOSIA, WARDRUM, AEMAON, NO HAND PATH, DISOLVO AMINUS, are but a few. One thing that has changed is the fact that Greek bands today take themselves much more seriously than what they did in the past. They've stepped up and taken their game to whole new level. Ten years ago there were only a handful of bands that acted as professionally as they had to. Now it's, thankfully, quite different. Maybe the fire of the crisis will prove to be a hotbed for new bands, heh?

And now a more philosophical question (sorry for that…), what is the role of evil in Metal? Do you think that metal music is evil itself either the record labels or the Metal bands use words like Devil and Demons in order to promote their albums?

Every form of music has the potential to be evil as long as there is the right intention behind it. Metal and Rock , since their inception some 50 years ago, have used evil with its shock value as it all began as a reaction to the stale musical environment back then and the rigid politically-correct views of the public. But as thing progressed they also got serious and heavier. The intensity of the music is solid ground to depict visions of evil and violence but it has never been limited to that. Certain bands do live by the philosophy they advocate through their music, lyrics and imagery. These bands were bound to draw attention and therefore music labels were also bound to exploit this as much as possible to make a quick buck. If ever there was a genre with the most trend-hoppers then it's metal. Because of its large appeal to impressionable teenagers, who are getting more and more used to extreme violence generation by generation, certain groups have also used the dark side for their 15 minutes of fame either by hollow anti-religious lyrics or useless anti-establishment sloganeering.. Plus there's a huge difference behind telling a story, like ALICE COOPER and KING DIAMOND, and expressing a philosophy, like Tom G Warrior or EMPEROR do. These two are should never be confused. On the other hand, the public is being fed with countless amounts of fake perfect happiness through Pop music, so you tell me, what's more evil? Reality or false promises?

I like very much that you use the Greek word Pneuma for spirit for your album. Can you tell us some words for each track of “Pneuma”? Under which circumstances or mood did you write them? What are your feelings towards each of them?

We needed a title that reflected the album's lyrical content and "Pneuma" was an easy choice once we noticed that all the lyrics featured the presence of a dark spirit that prevailed in the end. It hasn't been used before it sure as hell exudes an aura of darkness and ambiguity to those unfamiliar with the Greek language. In the beginning there was no great plan for the lyrics to tie together into something greater. We just wanted them to be little horror stories that would suit the music and express a little bit of ourselves without giving too much away. It turned out there was an underlying, unifying theme to them. That was the presence of spirit, the Noir one that guided the actions of each hero or was symbolized in certain songs. This spirit represents the fact that man will always act on his desires without ever caring about the consequences to those next to him. It's about how the end justifies all means. Even though man may start with the best of intentions there is always that aspect of the human soul that will surface and expose the selfishness of mankind. It doesn’t matter whether it just a whim or an actual need., as long as it's sated. This duality of the human mind, the ability mask selfishness and its true motives with kindness is this noir spirit, the moving force I think behind everything in today's society. That is also what our cover artwork is about. The central figure with the two smiling faces is the Spirit Noir. There were no particular circumstances behind each lyric. Some of them are stories, like Gate of Time, in which the hero is tricked that he shall have his youth back and be with his drugged up young maid but in the end the demon spirit grants his wish at the expense of the maiden's youth. Others like HAIL SPIRIT NOIR is actually a praise to the driving force of the world and is as personal as we might get.

How do you see HAIL SPIRIT NOIR in Metal scene? Have you scheduled a tour?

I think we are an oddity and that's absolutely fine with me. I'd rather stand out than to be a part of a faceless mass. One of the things that was most satisfying for me when the first reviews came in was the fact that the album seems to have stirred extreme reactions to the audience. They either loved it or hated it. It seems they won't be forgetting it any time soon. Plus they also mention both sides, worlds like originality, and "never heard before". This kind of inability to pigeonhole us is brilliant since we can't do it ourselves either, heh. As far as a tour is concerned that's what we are working on right now. We are trying to put together a suitable line up to take the Black Spirit on the road plus we are looking for suitable dates and support slots in touring line-ups. Hopefully, we hit the road sometime soon.

I know that it is too soon for asking but are we expected to have a brand new HAIL SPIRIT NOIR album any time soon?

I can't exactly say when but there definitely will be another one. This wasn't a one-off. We are pretty serious about it but, first, we must let this album go round. There are ideas but it's too soon to say anything yet.

Well guys, thanks a lot for your time. I hope that “Pneuma” will turn the attention to you guys even more than before because HAIL SPIRIT NOIR is worth it. Keep it Metal!

Thank you for having us. Keep supporting Metal and featuring new bands. Look for the spirit noir somewhere behind and within you. 


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Edited 01 October 2022

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