Hail Spirit Noir – Pneuma

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Review by Jason Guest

With an array of styles including and far beyond that of metal incorporated into their sound, Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir push the boundaries of progressive metal. Psychedelic 60s/70s rock meets black metal with hints of jazz and punk and hammer horror organs, 70s mellotron, flutes, violins and synths thrown into the Satanic symphony. Throughout, this is a nightmarish journey through wave after wave of moods and sensations delivered in an absurdly theatrical manner that, though overstated in its grandeur, remains strangely tasteful. That is if a haunted house inhabited by loons, goons, and carved-up cartoons is your idea of taste.

Opener ‘Mountain of Horror’ introduces the vintage psychedelia sound with open guitar chords and a retro keyboard melody. Growled black metal vocals are delivered with all the anguish, despair, and purposely exaggerated ostentation of a Greek melodrama. Then, chaos ensues as the floodgates open and the tumult cascades ever forward. ‘Let Your Devil Come Inside’ takes the lunatic approach even further, the changes in pace hectic and the boundaries of the dynamic broadened with jazz elements on the bass-lines and a gentle acoustic passage complemented with a fragile vocal. Then, when you think that Hail Spirit Noir have delved into the depths unknown as far as they possibly can, ‘Against The Curse, We Dream’ spews forth more of the mysterious, the strange, and the enigmatic, as does ‘When All Is Black’. The vibrato in the clean, dramatic vocal, the menacing growls, the chameleonic aesthetic that shifts effortlessly and seamlessly between disparate styles continue into ‘Into The Gates Of Time’ with a touch of King Crimson, 70s sci-fi keys, and whatever the hell else they want to throw in. And closer ‘Haire Pneuma Skoteino’ is a catchy, horror-infused and grim track that is as disconcerting and thoroughly entertaining as the rest of the tracks.

Lavish and ostentatious with a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek approach to the aesthetic, Pneuma is unhinged and twisted to the point of sheer lunacy. Hypnotic and haunting, weird and wonderful, bizarre and brilliant, Pneuma is a grotesque avant-garde pleasure. Cue maniacal laughter. Hail Spirit Noir!

9 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Mountain Of Horror
  2. Let Your Devil Come Inside
  3. Against The Curse, We Dream
  4. When All Is Black
  5. Into The Gates Of Time
  6. Haire Pneuma Skoteino
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