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HAIL SPIRIT NOIR - Pneuma cover
4.32 | 15 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2012


1. Mountain of Horror (5:14)
2. Let Your Devil Come Inside (3:21)
3. Against the Curse, We Dream (6:23)
4. When All is Black (5:20)
5. Into the Gates of Time (12:50)
6. Haire Pneuma Skoteino (3:49)

Total Time 36:57


- Theoharis / guitars, vocals
- Haris / synths
- Dim / bass


- Ioannis Giahoudis / drums
- Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos / additional vocals

About this release

Released March 5th, 2012, on Code666.

MASTERED by Jens Bogren, Sweden (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth)
MIXED at Lunatech Studios, Greece (Rotting Christ)
INCLUDING members of Transcending Bizarre?
ARTWORK by the american painter Jesse Peper (In Solitude)

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and UMUR, umur, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kev Rowland
Greek band Hail Spirit Noir was founded in 2010 by Haris (synths) and Theoharis (vocals, guitar) who are both also members of the avant-garde/ symphonic combo Transcending Bizarre? and the prog band Rex Mundi. Having worked for eighteen months on the material they then brought together some session musicians to assist them in releasing what is in many ways a very strange album indeed. While their musical base appears to be in black metal, they have brought in many elements that aren’t normally considered part of that genre. It is as if they have taken some of the rawness of Darkthrone, the folk elements of Negură Bunget, the progressiveness of Opeth and then thrown in elements of horror films and psychedelia to create something that in its’ totality is quite unlike anything else around.

Vocal styles are mixed up, there is loads of light to complement the dark and in many ways this is a truly progressive album. Mastered by Jens Bogren, Sweden (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth) and ixed by Dim Douvras (Rotting Christ) the sound is superb, while the artwork by Jesse Peper (In Solitude) definitely gives the feeling that the silver disc contained within is something quite special. At just 36 minutes long it is short by today’s standards, but hopefully that means that the new one will soon be on the way. www.auralmusic.com
Psychedelic black metal? You better believe it! Hail Spirit Noir's debut album finds the band combining sick, dirty black metal riffs and vocals with fat, meaty organ courtesy of Haris. The organ sound on the album in particular recalls psychedelic greats like the Doors, Procol Harum, Atomic Rooster and other greats of the psychedelic and proto-prog eras - if said pioneers had been possessed by demons and forced to jam for Satan, that is. At 36 minutes the album is short and sweet, which I think is the right call - this particular style is interesting but I'm not sure it'd hold up over an hour, whilst at this running time it's a fresh slice of innovative avant-black metal which doesn't outstay its welcome.
"Pneuma" is the debut full-length studio album by Greek progressive extreme metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through code666 in March 2012. Hail Spirit Noir features three members of Greek avant garde/post-black metal act Transcending Bizarre?.

The music on the album is in quite an eclectic progressive extreme metal style, that may be somewhat rooted in black metal but travels far beyond the usual boundaries of the genre and greatly challenges the genre characteristics of that style. Warm vintage sounding keyboards/organ, progressive song structures, 70s hard rock influences, psychadelic elements, a blackened rock´n´roll touch (just listen to the main riff in "Against the Curse, We Dream" or "Haire Pneuma Skoteino") and just a general playfullness that´s greatly charming. A band like Enslaved comes to mind, but Hail Spirit Noir has a kind of freakshow/dark carnival atmosphere present in their music that is far removed from the more serious sounding Norwegians. The vocals on "Pneuma" are, in addition to the adventurous instrumental part of the music, one of the great assets of the album. the blackened raspy harsh type vocals and the commanding powerful clean vocals are both delivered with great conviction and skill.

The album features 6 tracks distributed over a 36:57 minutes of playing time, so it´s safe to say it´s not a very long album. I´d take quality over quantity any day though and there´s plenty of quality here to justify the relatively short playing time. "Pneuma" is simply an enjoyable album from beginning to end (the only exception being the 4 minute ambient/noise ending to "Into the Gates of Time", which to my ears is wasting precious playing time). A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.
Pneuma is the debut studio album from Greek trio Hail Spirit Noir. The three members of the band are Theoharis on vocals and guitars, Haris on synths, and Dim on bass while the drums are handled by session musician Ioannis Giahoudis, along with additional vocals performed by Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos. Pneuma features six tracks of what is being branded in their press release as psychedelic progressive black metal. While I don’t really find the release to be so much progressive it’s most definitely a psychedelic experience, so much so that it often seems that the psychedelic stuff is the primary focus within the album, rather than the black metal, which in my experience is more of a rarity among so called progressive and avant-garde black metal acts, which seem to only add these additional elements to a core black metal sound. Here it’s like Hail Spirit Noir added black metal elements to a core psychedelic sound instead, so while the black metal is still an integral element in the Hail Spirit Noir sound it doesn’t seem the main focus by a long shot.

Indeed apart from Theoharis’ very tortured sounding black metal rasp it takes until almost half way through the opening track Mountain of Horror before the actual music starts to take on a more direct black metal approach, and even then it’s still layered with the psychedelic elements. More so it’s not until third track Against the Curse, We Dream that the album delivers a track where the black metal is allowed to take the front seat. The synths are used to excellent effect in this regard and although it’s like two worlds colliding all the sound fit together nicely, giving Hail Spirit Noir a sound of the sort that you don’t hear very often, something that sounds unique.

What is probably the best thing about the band’s sound though is that despite the trimmings and use of clean vocals, it doesn’t lose the raw aspect associated with black metal so it even has potential to appeal to fans of the likes of Mayhem and Darkthrone so long as they keep an open-mind towards the album. The sound definitely isn’t over-polished in production values, especially where the guitars are concerned, and overall there’s quite a sinister atmosphere attached to the music, even in light sections featuring clean vocals, such as in the beginning of When All is Black. And yet it’s not so much a typical black metal production as much as it is just an intentionally retro one. I’d say that like the music itself the production values found here draw on the band’s psychedelic and progressive side more than the black metal, another reason why I don’t consider Pneuma to be primarily a black metal album.

Pneuma is quite the interesting trip and with it Hail Spirit Noir have set themselves a high standard to follow. The album is in possession of the sort of sound that if you dig it the album becomes an easy listen even during the near thirteen minute composition Into the Gates of Time, which also happens to be the best of the six tracks on offer and also unsurprisingly given its length, the most progressive. I’m also extra fond of Against the Curse, We Dream and Let Your Devil Come Inside but Pneuma is such an album that there are no dips in quality below being really great.

Overall it’s actually very near masterpiece level, but there is a little room for improvement – although it’s still the best track, Into the Gates of Time does feature a bit of a drawn out section of what sounds like a load of crickets where nothing really happens until an acoustic guitar comes it over the noise, only to disappear again before the track’s conclusion and the noise continues up until the start of the closing Haire Pneuma Skoteino. I’m not really a fan of such things in any style of music, mainly because I’m never sure just what the artist is trying to achieve by including such ambient background noise when nothing else is going on, especially when it’s not building up to a hidden track as in Pneuma’s case. Fortunately this doesn’t last too long as the appearance of the acoustic helps to break it up, but I still could have done without this particular section.

Haire Pneuma Skoteino, the final track, cuts a bit of a different atmosphere to the rest of the album. It feels uplifting and if anything its main melody sounds just a little cheery in contrast to the dark and bleak sound heard previously. Originally I didn’t think it fit into the album so well, but then some time after I originally published this review I was given the opportunity to interview the band, and Theoharis answered my questions, one of which was based on this particular track, and his answer gave me a whole new perspective on which eliminated the ‘how does this fit with the rest of the album?’ problem that I’d had with it previously and thus caused me to go back to this review and bump up the score a few points. Theoharis explained that the uplifting feel to the track is just a front, and that there’s real threat behind it, which is a notion that can be related to in many things. For a simple example, think the sort of villain of a story or film who acts nice until they don’t get their own way and then the hidden dark side comes out. With that knowledge now firmly in my mind, it’s evident that Hail Spirit Noir did an exceptional job with this track. As Theoharis said, you just have to dig deep.

Ultimately I’m left feeling very positive about Pneuma. It is a truly excellent debut album. Despite the fault I had with Into the Gates of Time it doesn’t take away too much from my enjoyment of the release overall and rating the album with less than a high end exceptional score would be doing it an injustice.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))
As the years pass by, it seems like modern black metal can be distinctly broken up into two different categories. On one hand, you have countless young bands trying to re-create the magic of mid nineties' Mayhem and Darkthrone records, and on the other hand you have bands who are genuinely interested in bringing black metal to a whole new level of creativity - Hail Spirit Noir definitely belongs to the second category. If you don't believe me, just take a listen to what they've cooked up for their debut album, Pneuma. Hail Spirit Noir literally sounds like the result of a sixties' psychedelic rock group on a bad acid trip; everything from the vintage-sounding production, retro keyboard styles, and and progressive song structures brings us back to the golden age of psychedelic rock... except there's something different. Black metal-styled riffs, harsh vocals, and a twisted sense of melancholy somehow ended up in the mix, and the end result is unlike anything I've ever heard before. Although Hail Spirit Noir is anything but a 'traditional' black metal act, this debut is an essential purchase for open-minded fans of the genre.

When the term progressive black metal is brought up, the likes of Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room, Shining, and Deathspell Omega are usually the first bands that come to mind - many other 'progressive' black metal groups tend to sound similar to at least one of the aforementioned pioneers, but that isn't at all the case with Hail Spirit Noir. In addition to the 'bad acid trip' comparison I made earlier, Pneuma sounds like what would happen if King Crimson got together with Darkthrone for a jam session. The mellotron-soaked style of eclectic prog rock pioneered by Robert Fripp seems like a major influence to Hail Spirit Noir, and the way they manage to also sneak in black metal sections and harsh vocals without ever skipping a beat is admirable. Everything about Pneuma's production just reeks of the late sixties', and I think that's what helps bridge the band's adventurous blend of progressive rock and black metal so well. Just listen to the 12 minute masterpiece "Into the Gates of Time" to hear how much the vintage production helps make Hail Spirit Noir's sound so successful.

Pneuma is one of those albums that may be a bit difficult to grasp at first, but given the proper amount of time, it eventually reveals itself as a brilliant gem. Hail Spirit Noir have made one hell of a debut effort, and while I would've liked it to be a bit longer, this is a downright superb album. Fans of black metal, progressive rock, and experimental music in general should find plenty to enjoy here - this is one of early 2012's musical highlights for sure.

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