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HAIL SPIRIT NOIR - Mayhem In Blue cover
4.41 | 13 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2016


1. I Mean You Harm (3:55)
2. Mayhem in Blue (7:57)
3. Riders to Utopia (4:38)
4. Lost in Satan's Charms (10:52)
5. The Cannibal Tribe Came from the Sea (6:51)
6. How to Fly in Blackness (6:16)

Total Time 40:29


- J. Demian / Bass
- Theoharis / Guitars, Vocals
- Haris / Keyboards

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos / Clean Vocals
- Håkon Freyr Gustafsson / Drums

About this release

Released by Dark Essence Records, October 28th, 2016.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Mayhem in Blue" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Greek progressive metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through Dark Essence Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Oi Magoi" from 2014. Hail Spirit Noir was formed in 2010 by three members of Transcending Bizarre?. The band released their debut full-length studio album "Pneuma" in 2012.

Stylistically the music on "Mayhem in Blue" continues the psychadelic/space rock tinged progressive extreme metal style of the first two albums by the band. It´s music which owes as much to artists like early Pink Floyd and Hawkwind as it does to an act like Darkthrone and their ilk. The black metal element is relatively restrained here though, but there are a couple of pretty raw moments featured on the album (including a few blast beats). Mostly though we´re treated to a more mellow, dark, and twisted progressive rock/metal sound. Keyboards and especially organ play an important role in the band´s music, and you can add The Doors to the list of influences as keyboard player Harris often sounds like a bizarre dark carnival version of Ray Manzarek.

"Mayhem in Blue" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 40:29 minutes, and all tracks featured on the album are high quality compositions. The tracks are adventurous, memorable, and dynamic. The catchiness of the material is one of the great assets of the album, and even the 10:52 minutes long "Lost in Satan's Charms" is instantly catchy. It´s probably because the band don´t go overboard with complex song structures and technical playing, but instead keep it relatively simple and focused on atmosphere. Simple doesn´t mean regular vers/chorus simple though and the band often break away from that tried and true formula to create more adventurous structures, but they still manage to keep things accessible.

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and the playing tight yet organic. Lead vocalist/guitarist Theoharis has a powerful raspy black metal style vocal delivery, but the pleasant warm clean vocals by guest vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos are even stronger. The combination of the two vocal styles bring much to Hail Spirit Noir´s music. "Mayhem in Blue" features a raw organic sound production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it´s another really strong release by Hail Spirit Noir. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.
Hail Spirit Noir's third album finds them seeing just how far apart they can take the two poles of their sound - psychedelic rock and black metal - whilst still bridging the two worlds effectively. Just as you think they've entirely succumbed to one sonic world, elements of the other erupt into the sound, and yet somehow manage to come across like an entirely natural aspect of the song, even though I'm damn sure the Pink Fairies never threw in screamed vocals and blast beats into their songs. Although I don't think it quite hits the perfect blend that was offered by Oi Magoi, it's still another interesting mutation of the band's sound that proves the sheer versatility of their schtick.
Hail Spirit Noir, of Greece, is in my view one of the most unique and special bands to be produced by the 2010's metal scene. Representing a clash between the worlds of black metal and psychedelic rock (with some progressive influences), in itself not unique as you can't talk about such a combination without acknowledging the existence of the perhaps better known Finnish group Oranssi Pazuzu, they still manage to produce records that don't sound like anything else I've ever come across, first with Pneuma (2012) and then with its even stronger follow-up, Oi Magoi (2014). Of course I'm only marginally familiar with the other band myself, having heard their most recent offering Värähtelijä (2016), but it's my impression that both Oranssi Pazuz and Hail Spirit Noir have quite different takes on mixing the two genres together. For my part I find Hail Spirit Noir to be the superior unit thanks to the excellent first two albums and with third release Mayhem in Blue (2016), they've now made it three for three and with an album that has claims to being their best yet.

Next to the prior album Oi Magoi, Mayhem in Blue finds Hail Spirit Noir noticeably playing in a different gear. One that has their black metal side turned up to eleven but without sacrificing any of the psychedelic flare that gives their sound that special edge. No track makes this clearer than the opening I Mean You Harm, which is a really full force black metal track from Hail Spirit Noir. Aggressive and in your face with fast, raw riffs assaulting the ears and a strong harsh vocal from frontman Theoharis. After this barrage the band are quick to show that there is still room for a softer moment on the album with the Mayhem in Blue title track. Of course a softer moment for Hail Spirit Noir involves eerie psychedelic synths and equally haunting clean vocals replacing the growls, although these are still used when the song switches back up for another bashing of black metal akin to the opener. The band have of course always been a bit too black metal for a fan of psychedelic rock who doesn't like black metal as well to get the most out of, but Mayhem in Blue more than ever feels like it's an album for the metalheads. In comparison Oi Magoi sounds more liked blackened psychedelic rock than an actual black metal album. That's how much more intense Mayhem in Blue is.

While I Mean You Harm does start the album strong and serves well to state the intent of the record, having now listened to Mayhem in Blue a few times I can't help but think that it's actually the weakest track due to being so much more straight-forward compared to the rest of the material. The forty minute album only has six tracks and one of those, Riders to Utopia, isn't actually much longer than I Mean You Harm, but like the longer ones, which includes the near eleven minute Lost in Satan's Charms, it seems to cram more into its duration. The band are very good at having a lot of different influences going on without making their music fell overblown and there are some great psychedelic melodies being served up here and while I Mean You Harm certainly doesn't lack one of its own, it's not what the track seems to be about. I do still love it though. I think it's always great to hear a different side to an artist pulled off well, but I'm also glad the track opens the album so the flow isn't disrupted later.

While I did think that Oi Magoi as a whole was a better release than Pneuma, the first album up until this point did include my favourite Hail Spirit Noir track, which was Let Your Devil Come Inside. As of Mayhem in Blue that's no longer true as its title track has displaced it. I really can't find fault with any of the following tracks of course, with their impressive instrumental work and mix of clean and harsh vocals, but there's something really special about this one song. Everything just feels right. Everything about it says this is what Hail Spirit Noir should sound like.

Hail Spirit Noir are one of a few artists who are the reason why I currently consider black metal to be the most interesting metal genre in the current scene. It's this genre where the advances seem to be being made right now, even compared to progressive metal which I honestly feel has become really quite stagnant in the last couple of years. A few decent albums here and there, but nothing that makes me sit up and say 'this artist is special', which is exactly how I feel about Hail Spirit Noir, now more true than ever with Mayhem in Blue under their belt. I had thought that this year's best black metal album was a given with a new Mare Cognitum release out, but I'll eat my hat on this one: I was wrong. Mayhem in Blue is better. Though believe it or not, compared to the two previous albums I actually did find that this one was more of a grower, especially it's last two tracks The Cannibal Tribe Came from the Sea and How to Fly in Blackness, but perhaps that's the way a masterpiece should be?

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