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Hail Spirit Noir - Oi Magoi CD (album) cover

OI MAGOI

Hail Spirit Noir

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.00 | 89 ratings

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Aldebaran_Well
5 stars As we all get older and become more experienced listeners, it's getting harder and harder to discover and listen to bands and artists whose music feels entirely fresh and new. There are some magic moments though, rare as they can be, when we can still find something extraordinary, music that makes you think even when the record stop spinning or albums that make you want to analyze their art, the people who created it and their interaction with our own selves. Bands that carry an aura of mystique in art that has to do with things beyond music. Well, ladies and gentlemen, ''Oi Magoi'' can be such an album for you and, oh, how wonderful this mind trap is! Or, should I say, diabolically wonderful?

It seems that Haris and Theoharis, also members of the very interesting and eccentric Transcending Bizarre?, love the element of weirdness in every project they get involved with. This is Hail Spirit Noir's second album, after 2012's ''Pneuma''. That was a good album too but this time with the release of ''Oi Magoi'' the band extends the limits of how far extreme and prog music can go together. At this review I won't describe the songs separately, not only because there are things beyond description, but also because HSN's vision is so specific that makes the whole album sound as a single entity.

Psychedelic black metal. Ok, we've heard this term before. Many tried it, some wrote history (Ved Buens Ende), some did very well (In the woods, Enslaved, Nachtmystium) and many made a fool out of themselves. What I really love about black metal is that it proved to be a very resilient genre when combined with others, without losing its stylistic characteristics. HSN though, make a step beyond mixing styles and this is their greatest achievement: They stand at two worlds at the same time. One foot stands on black metal, on old school, mid tempo, dirty sounding black metal, in the veins of Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Mortuary Drape, while the other foot steps steadily on 70's psych/prog rock. These two worlds are always balanced, fully unified, neither betrayed at any moment. The result sounds like the band has discovered a very deep, common root that connects two so different styles. Every time I listen to the album, this connection seems incredible. So, dear reader, please understand that we are dealing with a band that is equally black and prog.

7 songs, 7 minutes of average running time, 7 monuments of dark art. The first thing you'll notice, the moody and very underground-ish production, may annoy you a bit. Give yourself time to adjust to the fact that the sound is such on purpose and it perfectly serves the horror atmosphere and the ''jamming at the basement'' attitude that HSN delivers. No highly polished instruments here and I guess that this was thematically decided by the band. Each song feature perfectly structured changes from straightforward to psychedelic parts without ever affecting its mood. There are psych/space solos, melodic guitar lines, even krautrock and folk influences. I personally adore all the synth work of Haris which is made in the finest classic prog tradition. Even the vocals have a very satisfying range from the typical howlings to very deep and epic voices, being very theatrical ? without noticing it a first.

Three of the songs are almost like rituals: ''Satan is time'' begins like a ballad but its growing intensity can send you shivers. In ''Satyricon orgy'', well, the title says it all ? featuring the only blast beat part of the album ? while the title track ''Oi Magoi'' is so hypnotizing and dark that it almost sounds like a soundtrack of a litany. The opening ''Blood Guru'' feels like drawing the curtains of a strange, unseen world and ''The Hunter'' and ''Demon a day'' are a bit more simple and straight. The 11 minutes long ''The mermaid'' is a fantastic, mind blowing elegy which almost makes you feel like you're lost and hunted in a chaotic, monstrous ocean. Here is an experiment: listen carefully at the four first minutes of the song. Compare them with any instrumental part of the 70's prog rock masterpieces. Tell us the result of the comparison.

Lyrically, the band dives into the mythological, besides the occult. ''Satan is time'' is almost philosophical: ''We float in space and follow the pace of a clock designed by his will'' is a lyric that may refer to an aspect of the world from the satanist's point of view, while I believe that it describes perfectly the band itself and its vision. ''Oi Magoi'' (meaning The Magicians) repeat constantly only two lyrics in greek (something that is like ''the magicians bring as present death on earth, the magicians will kill the children''), until the lyrics start to sound like a hellish echo. All music interact with the lyrics in a cinematic way, supported by weird sounds, screams, breaths, gongs, percussion, whatever.

Greek black metal scene is one of the best in the world for two decades now. As this scene is concerned, I believe that ''Oi Magoi''is the best album I've heard since Rotting Christ's ''Thy mighty contract'' back from 1993. Globally, I think that Hail Spirit Noir is the most interesting active black metal band, along with Deathspell Omega. Personally, I had to feel this since ''Sham Mirrors'' of Arcturus. I'm proud that ''Oi Magoi'' is created by fellow Greeks!

It took me a lot of time to decide on my rating. For fans of avant garde black metal, this is an instant five. If you don't like extreme music, still, you have to give it at least a three for the prog part, so four would be really fair, right? For me, it's a 4,5. Still, I honestly believe that time will make this a classic of its genre and it has the potential to be a future reference next to the mighty Ved Buens Ende. This is a record with the power to make things happen. So, my inner voice says 5 stars and I'll listen to it. Congratulations Hail Spirit Noir!

Aldebaran_Well | 5/5 |

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