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Hail Spirit Noir - Eden in Reverse Award winner

Hail Spirit Noir
Eden in Reverse
by Mark Machlay at 02 July 2020, 5:05 AM

HAIL SPIRIT NOIR has always been an experimental and innovative group but has gone through a bit of a metamorphosis since the Greek trio-turned quintet first formed over a decade ago. The trio of Haris, J. Demian and Theoharis – having already gained notoriety from previous avant-garde, symphonic black metal group TRANSCENDING BIZARRE? - came together in early 2010. Towards the end of 2011 they joined with Code666/Aural music for their debut album “Pneuma”, eventually getting a worldwide release in the spring of 2012 with a more distinctive marrying of black metal and progressive rock with a retro yet modern style. Quick to release new material, the group convened in 2013 to write their follow-up “Oi Magoi” released in 2014, furthering their evolution into a self-defined psychoprog black metal album. Their third release, 2016’s “Mayhem in Blue” would see them start to abandon elements of black metal- using far less harsh vocals than previously - and move further into 70s infused psychedelic-oriented progressive rock with a heavy edge, much like OPETH would abandon all death metal growls by 2011’s “Heritage”

Now considered permanent members after touring with the band for a couple of years, Foivos on drums, Cons Marg on vocals and Sakis Bandis adding additional keyboard work, the band has moved pretty firmly into retro-prog territory, almost entirely eliminating their black metal tendencies, with a push into full on prog metal influences on their fourth full-length release “Eden in Reverse”.  The concept album is a rewritten story of Eden through a “surreal, Richard Dawkins-esqe, Darwinian point of view”. By far the most standout track is “Crossroads”, dead center of the album and perfectly balanced placement.  It represents the catchiest side of them, admits the band, featuring the most interesting vocal harmony blend of Theoharis, Cons Marg and guest vocalist Lars Nedland – known from BORKNAGAR. Apparently, when Nedland arrived, his voice was what finally completed the track after many months of it being unfinished. The meshing of the three voices gives an out-of-body chorus effect above the spacey and proggy riffs. This and “The First Ape on New Earth” are the only two tracks that seem to reach full prog metal rather than prog rock. The latter track features heavy, driving, offbeat guitar riffs punctuated by a quirky, theremin-like synth melody, seemingly in both the modern heavy metal and art-rock of 70s at the same time. It’s also the only track to have something resembling a guitar solo but is more of a repeating pattern than virtuosic. “Devil’s Blind Spot” has both a GHOST feel – especially in the opening melody - and a MUSE-like synth loop. It is a bit repetitive but amusing instrumental break before the final two tracks.

I could go on and on describing style and feel that the band emulates but there is so much creative spark much of their sound is all their own. It was fascinating starting off with the trippy, retro synths and open vocal doublings of opener “Darwinian Beats” and ending with the gloriously longer “Automata 1980”, completely baked in the late 70s and 80s electronic experimentation, sounding like equal parts chiptunes/80s video game music and KING CRIMSON vibes that made me long for the time when I first discovered them. The latter could have easily doubled its runtime of a little over 10 minutes and I would have thoroughly enjoyed every tasty minute of it. Needless to say, I was whole-heartedly amazed by the experimentation and craftwork that went into these songs and I have nothing but good things to say. Also, outside of a primal scream at the end of “Alien Lip Reading” any 60s/70s/80s prog-head would probably enjoy this album too as it almost entirely without any harsh singing.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Darwinian Beasts
2. Incense Swirls
3. Alien Lip Reading
4. Crossroads
5. The Devil’s Blind Spot
6. The First Ape on New Earth
7. Automata 1980
Lineup:
Haris – Synthesizers
Theoharis Lirantzakis – Guitars and Vocals
J. Demian – Bass and Acoustic Guitars
Foivos – Drums
Cons Marg – Vocals
Sakis Bandis - Keyboards
Record Label: Agonia Records
     


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