Hail Spirit Noir
Eden In Reverse

All hail Hail Spirit Noir who hail from Greece. These gentlemen caught my ears and eyes when they released Oi Strigoi all the way back in the “before times” in 2014. I was, and remain a big fan of that album, so I was excited when they released Mayhem in Blue in 2016. While I was not as big a fan of that record, I didn’t realize it had been four years since it was released. I think that means it stuck with me a little more than I originally thought.

After that four-year break comes their new album, Eden in Reverse. If you’re not familiar, Hail Spirit Noir describe themselves as psychedelic black metal. Yes, heavy metal has what seems like a million sub-genres, but this one certainly seems to fit more than a lot of others. We can get picky with genres all day, but I’m just going to call them avant-garde. It makes sense to me.

The intro track, “Darwinian Beasts,” didn’t exactly endear me to what I believed would follow. Intros are rarely a good judge of what is to come on an album. Sometimes they work, but frequently, they’re just throwaways. This one has some autotuned vocals throughout, and I was immediately bummed, expecting the worst, but it grew on me, and is now firmly lodged in the old noggin.

The first proper track is called “Incense Swirls” and in come the vocals I always enjoyed. As with most of the rest of their catalog, the song doesn’t sit still. The vocals are what one would call half sung/half spoken and they’ve always fit well. Anything other than the lower pitch wouldn’t service the songs at all. The drumming is top notch, but the keyboards carry the track. There’s great interplay between the keyboards and guitars, which really speaks to the attention to detail in the composition.

The next track I want to mention is track 4, “Crossroads.” It has some familiar sounding vocals, and I thought; “Is that the guy from Borknagar?” Well, his name is Lazare, and the answer is “yes.” His vocals fit the track and style very well. The drumming in this song is fantastic, although a little buried. The main hook is fantastic, the keyboards fit well, and it fits that “psychedelic black metal” title they have given themselves. Lazare’s vocals carry the song. I hesitate to use the word “epic,” but it fits the bill here.

The heaviest track, relatively speaking, is “The First Ape on New Earth.” With that being said, it is still heavily carried by keyboards and you won’t hear any gutturals. What you will experience, though, is frantic drumming, the bass to match (and it’s audible), as well as some tremolo picking. This is, however, a nearly 8-minute track, and that pace continuously shifts. This track can be described as black metal meets lounge music and a science fiction soundtrack. That description can apply to most of the album.

The final number on here is the longest track. I’m not a fan of when bands do this. It’s called “Automata 1980” and it is nearly 11 minutes long. The first 3 minutes or so sounds like an 80s sci-fi film, and, well, the title makes sense. There’s a sense of foreboding that carries the track until about halfway into it, but those melodies continue to surface for the rest of the track. Honestly, the final track is too long for my liking and it kills the momentum because it doesn’t really add too much to the affair. Luckily, the album is short of the 45-minute threshold, so even with the longer final track, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Overall, it’s very difficult to categorize or characterize this album. What genre is it? Is it metal? Honestly, it’s not. What it is, though, is very deserving of your undivided attention. It’s much better than their previous effort, Mayhem in Blue. Is it better than Oi Strigoi? That’s a difficult question. I’m not sure either way. What I do know is that it is at least on par. If you’re a metalhead, you want a break from all the blasting your ears endure on a daily basis, and want to relax with a well-crafted, relaxing album totally lacking in the “brootalz,” then you came to the right place. How much you will enjoy this album, of course depends on your tolerance and appreciate for the “artsy fartsy.” I could say I never thought I’d use that phrase in a review, but that was the goal all along, and my job here is done. Anyway, if you’re even somewhat into the more introspective, softer side of the musical spectrum, then you’d do well to pour yourself a glass of your favorite spirit and let Eden In Reverse envelop you.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
June 17th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: F. Rini

    Excellent review. Love these guys and this is a great album. Will make my years end list. So weird and original.


  2. Commented by: GWW

    This band is nuts and i have and love all 3 prior releases, especially Pneuma.


  3. Commented by: J. Mays

    It’s definitely on my year end list, too. Yeah, it’s weird, but unlike a lot of albums out there that are just weird to be weird and not at all accessible, they somehow buck that trend by making it really catchy. Great band!


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