Hail Spirit Noir
Hail Spirit Noir is a progressive black metal/rock act from Greece, but what is so special about them, is that they’re not in the vein of progressive black metal like Enslaved; nor progressive metal like Porcupine Tree or Spock’s Beard. These guys completely traverse a realm of their own, as opener “Blood Guru” shows from the very beginning. It opens the disc with literal rock riffs fronted by black metal scowls and all sorts of progressive antics laden within, including the appearance of a xylophone! Darkened classic rock solos appear throughout the album, along with the keyboard theatrics and overall vibe of classic sixties prog. Even the production on the album sounds incredibly retro; bringing a taste of what black metal might have sounded like if it had been made by a bunch of hippie star-children. However, a couple of frenzied sets of drumming appear on tracks like “Satyirko Origio” and “Hunters” showing that the disc at least retains the spirit of black metal despite the LSD friendly vibe. Even traditional prog rock is attempted on the disc in the form of the truly intriguing “Satan Is Time.” Clean vocals also appear on the album, bringing about strong chorus moments when necessary. Think Code’s Resplendent Grotesque and you’ve got it.
As with Greek metal, chants also appear on the disc in addition to several avant-garde and obscure moments that may admittedly be a bit too much for the average listener. In all honesty, it’s a quite varied piece that will require your undivided attention and must be absorbed and digested through multiple listens. If you happen to be a corpse-paint aficionado who also likes to get sedated and trip out on your music, then this album may be for you. If you’re not seeing colors, shapes and inverted pentagrams around the time “Mermaid” goes into its prog-stravaganza, then you’re not high enough to listen to this one. So take that as a suggestion, as you prepare to smoke a bowl (or twenty) before listening to this extremely trippy exercise in black metal. While it may not be the best black metal album that you’ve ever heard this year, it definitely comes off as something noteworthy and different; an obscure classic that I’m trying to draw as much attention to as I can with this review. Some might be under the assumption that we’ve done almost everything that you can with prog metal, but Hail Spirit Noir prove that just a touch of King Crimson and Camel can really spark up the black flames a bit. It’s still evil, just a really psychedelic kind of evil. This is what Satan listens to when he gets stoned. (Eric May)
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