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Hail Spirit Noir - Eden in Reverse CD (album) cover

EDEN IN REVERSE

Hail Spirit Noir

Experimental/Post Metal


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars There have been a slew of bands in the 2010s that have given legitimacy to a new style that has become known as psychedelic metal that exists outside of the usual doom and stoner realms that have been fusing heavy psych and the more bombastic chord heft of Black Sabbath. Bands like Finland's Oranssi Pazuzu and Greece's HAIL SPIRIT NOIR have perhaps been the most clever in how they have straddled the disparate worlds of progressive rock, black metal and psychedelic rock. HAIL SPIRIT NOIR is a trio from the northern city of Thessaloniki that threw both the prog and metal worlds a curve ball with its 2012 debut "Pneuma" which featured a fresh new twisted take on the fusional possibilities of black metal, prog and heavy psych.

In the beginning the band's focus was heavy on the metal side of the equation but as each subsequent album that followed: "Oi Magoi" and "Mayhem In Blue," it became clear that this was a band that could maintain the exact same recipe of ingredients but created a completely new album simply by changing the ratio of the musical elements on board. Celebrating a decade of existence, HAIL SPIRIT NOIR returns four years after its last release with its fourth album EDEN IN REVERSE which sheds much of the black metal of the previous output and shifts into a psychedelic swirling vortex of heavy prog laced with keyboard rich gymnastics that add the most spectacular spaced out trips into the unpredictable band's antics that finds more influences from synth bands like Kraftwerk rather than Darkthrone.

The album which sounds like a retrofuturisitc jump into the soundtrack of "The Twilight Zone" indeed brings much retro charm to its near 43 minute run with trippy oscillating Moog synthesizers bringing a time bending wobble effect to the majority of the album's run. Gone are the raspy black metal vocals and the new clean vocals display a mood of nonchalance as if the space portal jumping experience is just too exhausting to get excited about however a blood curdling scream or two pierces the veil every now and again. In many ways EDEN IN REVERSES reminds me of a much more psychedelic version of post-black metal Ulver than anything from HAIL SPIRIT NOIR's prior repertoire. This album hosts seven exquisitely designed tunes that find the perfect balance between electro-robotic detachment and heavy prog guitar heft. At times reminding of 70s Pink Floyd (especially in the vocals) and at others like a darker version of Japan's Ghost that discovered the joys of heavy metal.

The album flows incredibly well as do all HAIL SPIRIT NOIR albums with seamless melodies blending with polyrhythmic complexities made all the more engaging by the barrage of synthesized spaciness which make you wonder if Jean-Michel Jarre is involved somewhere behind the scenes. The band states that this album takes the music out of the retro hybridization of the 60s / 70s and pushes it forward to the 70s / 80s era which eschewed the overuse of the black metal bombast and instead sailed off to planet Lysergia for a more mind-bending psychedelic experience. The results are something familiar yet so far away from where the band has visited in the past. Despite the retro drenched motifs, EDEN IN REVERSE is clearly a product of the here and now with a crystal clear production job and ample doses of extreme metal riffing albeit it set back a bit to emphasize the synth attacks.

Despite the clear detour from the metal universe, the energetic bombast still exists well within the confines of the head banging domain that HAIL SPIRIT NOIR has always occupied. The album was produced and mixed by Dimitris Douvras (Rotting Christ) and mastered by Alan Douches (Nile, Aborted, Whitechapel). Add to that a cameo vocal appearance from Borknagar's Lars Nedland appears on the track "Crossroads." Despite HAIL SPIRIT NOIR's dedication to experimentation that insures that each and every album released carries a distinct personality apart from what came before, the true success of this trio is in crafting instantly catchy compositions that favor melody over avant-garde weirdness and only after an accessible foundation has been laid can all the tricks and trinkets find their way into the mix. What can i say? HAIL SPIRIT NOIR never fails to disappoint and 2020's EDEN IN REVERSE despite a totally new direction is hardly an exception to that. Excellent!

4.5 rounded up why not

Report this review (#2447619)
Posted Sunday, September 13, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars 2020 has been an inordinate year, with all sorts of health, economic and political mayhem raging around the planet. The music world, however, has not yet been permeable to such ordeals. After a largely mild 2019, this year has been prolific in great music, in most cases by unexpectedly good comebacks (the return of CIRITH UNGOL being the most spectacular, 29 years after their last studio recording). Among these remarkable 2020 comebacks is EDEN IN REVERSE by HAIL SPIRIT NOIR.

The Greek trio had built a following in the earlier part of the decade with a sweep of three Black Metal albums that always meandered different soundscapes. Loved by Metal fans and respected in the Progressive universe, they largely trailed a path of their own. A long hiatus ensued after 2016, and in 2020 the band finally broke radio silence with EDEN IN REVERSE.

During this interregnum the band completely transfigured their sound, all but abandoning their Black Metal roots. EDEN IN REVERSE is a complete change of course, but in many different directions. Vocals now lean into Gothic territory, synthesisers went back in time and space to 1970s Germany, whereas guitars riffs acquired a psychedelic dimension that further expands the strength of their sound.

This is still pretty much Heavy Metal music, but is also so much more than that. EDEN IN REVERSE revisits important elements of 1970s Space and Electronic, but blends it brilliantly with modern Metal. There are great introspective moments, more than inspired on TANGERINE DREAM, followed by blasts of energy with heavy guitar playing. Aesthetically, each successive track slowly builds a peculiar kind of tension, mysterious, intriguing, almost like a thriller in space. The end result is remarkably refreshing, with a clear element of innovation (especially in the Metal universe). HAIL SPIRIT NOIR have definitely created a space of their own in rock music.

And it all comes packaged in a concise record, delivering a powerful watershed of sound that elegantly avoids tiring the listener. There are no weak moments, just up and downs in a dense plot. Pressing play is opening the gate to a wonderful journey. I hope HAIL SPIRIT NOIR continues exploring this new niche they created, but if history serves as template, they are unlikely to remain in the same place for long.

This is the second record in 2020 I feel to deserve the 5 stars. Be it for Metal or Progressive fans, this is a very special album.

Report this review (#2453573)
Posted Saturday, October 3, 2020 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Is this band mirroring the ULVER / OPETH path?

1. "Darwinian Beasts" (2:18) great song that introduces the futuristic sound and music that is to follow. (4.25/5)

2. "Incense Swirls" (7:14) sustained synth note is followed by pounding rock marching us forward. Jakub Roszak (RETROSPECTIVE)-like voice enters to begin telling us the story as the music trots along. Bass gets some interesting lee-way during fourth minute. Then vocalist(s) return singing int two different octaves. Nice! Scaled back instrumental passage in the fifth minute is cool--and is followed by a return to the higher-voiced chorus. The the marching beat is reestablished over which some interesting not-flashy synthesizer solos preceding the introduction of a new theme: a guitar arpeggio. Underwhelming ending. (Just prepping us for the next song?) (13.25/15)

3. "Alien Lip Reading" (6:36) great thick atmosphere with a very satisfying PAIN OF SALVATION-like wall-of-sound melodies, chord shifts, and feel. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

4. "Crossroads" (5:09) opens with Gregorian chant-like effected male vocal before guitars and band launch into a drag race to the next song at the one minute mark. The simple and straightforward metal with simple synth riffs are fairly funny for their generic sound. The only saving grace is/are the vocals. What voices! (8.5/10)

5. "The Devil's Blind Spot" (3:42) guitar and synth created horn sounds open this one before full band enters to establish the foundation. But then it stays instrumental (other than some kind of growlish screams). Builds to a solid one minute finale. (8.75/10)

6. "The First Ape on New Earth" (7:26) it's off to the races from the opening note. The computer-esque drone voice of the lead singer is half BLUE ÖYSTER CULT half PAIN OF SALVATION--and the lyrics couldn't be more appropriate to both. Great tremolo strum in the fifth minute to pick things up. This, then, leads into a couple of nice whole-band power weaves. Very cool. Great bass play. Nice melodies that gradually, subtly worm their way into one's brain. Another top three song. (13.5/15)

7. "Automata 1980" (10:20) opens like a TODD RUNDGREN/TANGERINE DREAM/ "Twilight Zone" electronica experiment. Drums join in during the third minute while keys continue to do weirdness only. At 3:45 deep male voice enters with bank of Mellotron angelic voices. At 4:45 drums stop for cymbal crashes and heavily-treated choral voices singing "oohs" until 5:45 when the music smooths out into an equal palette of guitars and synths and more solid, laid back metal drumming while vocals become multi-tracked to sound multiplied. tremolo guitar slo in the eighth minute is very cool--gives the song a kind of "Court of the Crimson King" feel to it. Finishes with a Berlin School like sequencer sound as Gregorian voices vocalise in the far background. My favorite song on the album and oh, so different from the others! (18/20)

Total Time 42:45

My favorite aspect of this music are the vocals: they are excellent. It is also very refreshing to hear such adventurousness from a Prog Metal keyboardist!

B+/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Report this review (#2482494)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2020 | Review Permalink
2 stars Spacey, weird, and genuinely novel are all fitting adjectives for this record. Sadly, entertaining or enjoyable are not among them. The music on Eden in Reverse is characterized by off-beat wall of sound chords often accompanied by psyched-out lead Moog synthesizer passages. The vocal duties are shared between guitarist Theoharis Liratzakis and several guest musicians. One of the vocalists' style, presumably Theoharis, is reminiscent of Jonas Renske of Katatonia while the others are a mix of Peter Gabriel and Brann Dailor of Mastodon. On paper, this sounds like a recipe for success. In practice, the relentlessness of the dissonant chords and wall of sound production simply wore me down. The silver lining was the relatively brisk run-time of 42 minutes and 48 seconds.

A fellow progressive metal reviewer on the Prog Archives, Silly Puppy, has written extensively in his reviews about the rise of "Psychedelic Metal" in the past decade, a movement of which Hail Spirit Noir is a part. Unfortunately for this band, this invited me to make some very unflattering comparisons to another psychedelic metal record released this year, Oranssi Pazuzu's Mestarin Kynsi. While Mestarin Kynsi was marred a bit by misplaced black metal vocals, it contextualized its "weirdness" by putting together a masterclass in generating and releasing tension in the songs. Eden in Reverse is just all weird all the time with no respite. I for one will not be returning to this record or this band for quite some time.

Report this review (#2482639)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2020 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Eden in Reverse" is the 4th full-length studio album by Greek progressive metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through Agonia Records in June 2020. It´s the successor to "Mayhem In Blue" from 2016 and features quite a few lineup changes since the predecessor as Hail Spirit Noir have gone from a trio lineup to a sextet.

While the three preceding releases weren´t exactly primitive and simple, the new sextet lineup do create an even more massive and more busy soundscape. Hard (and more mellow) rocking guitars, bass, and drums, loads of vintage synths/keyboards/organ, and well performed clean vocals, harmonies and choirs. This is 60s/70s influenced heavy progressive rock with a strong psychadelic touch. The contemporary artist which comes closest to the sound on "Eden in Reverse" is probably Opeth and their 70s hard rock infused progressive rock sound, but Hail Spirit Noir have a more driving, repetitive rhytmic pulse (Krautrock/space rock influenced). The latter influence is especially heard on the 10:20 minutes long closing track "Automata 1980", but the hard rocking repetitive rhythmic playing is there on most tracks.

Hail Spirit Noir come from a black metal background, but while the three preceding releases did feature black metal elements, they weren´t really black metal. It was just an element of their sound. That element is now almost completely gone from their music, and "Eden in Reverse" does not feature much more than 1 minute of black metal influenced sounds. A raw black metal styled scream at the end of "Alien Lip Reading", and a few sections with tremolo picked distorted guitars and some faster-paced drumming are about it. The clean vocals are performed in a laid-back almost sedated fashion. Very pleasant on the ears, but maybe slightly too one-dimensional in the end. On the other hand the vocals suit the atmosphere of the instrumental part of the music perfectly.

"Eden in Reverse" features an organic and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly, and upon conclusion it´s another strong album release by Hail Spirit Noir. They´ve moved forward and have added new elements to their sound and they´ve removed other elements, but ultimately they still sound unmistakably like themselves. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#2503954)
Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars HAIL SPIRIT NOIR is a Greek Metal band known for their very original musical approach which mixes Space-Rock and Metal. A new step has been taken with their latest production, and achieved with mastery because what offers us an incredible work. Imagine Jean-Michel Jarre joining a Metal band and suppose Mikael Akerfeldt is hired as a singer, you get "Eden In Reverse". The vocals are exceptional, the adventurous and metal / electro compositions (when I say electro, I think of Equinoxe, or Oxygène), the angry guitars ... Only regret: the disappearance of the growls. If you want to discover something original, take the test, you will be won over. Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Truly 4.5 stars.
Report this review (#2523383)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2021 | Review Permalink

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