Oi Magoi (2014), meaning The Magicians, is the second full-length album by Greek Psychedelic Black Metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The group, which consists of the trio of Theoharis (guitars, vocals), Haris (synths) and Dim (bass, acoustic guitars), all also of Transcending Bizarre?, have been joined for a second time by the same guest musicians that appeared on their debut album Pneuma (2012), namely drummer Ioannis Giahoudis and clean vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos. While the two are considered to be guest performers with the group for me Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos proved to be a key part of the Hail Spirit Noir sound on Pneuma, so I'm glad to hear him performing on Oi Magoi as well.
Musically Hail Spirit Noir often belongs more to the psychedelic rock genre than they do to black metal. Often it is only the growling vocals of Theoharis adding the extreme metal edge to the music, although despite the fact you won't be hearing raw guitars all the time, both Oi Magoi and Pneuma before it never lack for the atmosphere that is associated with black metal music, and the psychedelic elements tend to add a melancholic feel to the proceedings. This is especially heightened during the clean vocal sections that Dimitrakopoulos sings. It's also incredibly beautiful, even though those two things, melancholy and beauty, may contradict themselves.
If there was a complaint to be aimed at Pneuma, it was that it really didn't last for a long enough time, clocking in at under 40 minutes. While such a short running time certainly inspired a lot of repeat listens I for one needed to hear more than the six songs from Pneuma to get my Hail Spirit Noir fix, even though true to the form of an excellent album Pneuma never got old no matter how many times I listened. Oi Magoi is much longer than its predecessor being just shy of 50 minutes, although in terms of the amount of tracks they only went one better this time, with seven. Still what a seven they are! The average run time tends towards at least the six minute mark and like with Pneuma's Into the Gates of Time there is also an epic length track in the form of The Mermaid. The songs flit back and forth between eerie psychedelic rock and harsh black metal passages, usually tending towards one or the other during a track but including elements of both almost all of the time, while some of the tracks include progressive touches, an early example being Demon for a Day which is, like The Mermaid, one of Oi Magoi's best tracks.
Picking best tracks for an album like Oi Magoi (and by extensive a band like Hail Spirit Noir) is quite the demanding task though. They'll all excellent in their own ways and while Let Your Devil Come Inside from Pneuma may still stand as my favourite individual song by the band so far, overall the debut had a couple of minor faults that kept it from the highest rating tier. On Oi Magoi it seems that Hail Spirit Noir have learned from past mistakes (a term I use very loosely given that I previously scored Pneuma at a more than respectable 93/100) and produced an even more cohesive effort overall. It is, simply put, a stunning sophomore effort and the first top tier album I've listened to from 2014. A five star range rating is most definitely deserved.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/hail-spirit-noir-oi-magoi-t3285.html)