Hail Spirit Noir - Eden in Reverse
Agonia Records
Progressive Metal, Space Rock
7 songs (42:45)
Release year: 2020
Agonia Records
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

Greek psychonauts Hail Spirit Noir are back with a new spirit voyage, and the ever-underappreciated band have produced another fascinating burst of proggy goodness. There's little of the folksy wackiness of the Oi Magoi era left and they've gradually reduced black metal elements to the point where they are basically a psychedelic prog outfit, black metal popping up only in some of the ways melodies are layered into their sound. You could compare much of the Hail Spirit Noir style in 2020 to mainstream prog, perhaps akin to a group like (Norwegian) Shining albeit with psychedelia replacing jazz and alt-rock influences. The obvious name to bring up is Oranssi Pazuzu, Finnish psychedelic juggernauts of the moment, yet Hail Spirit Noir are like their cheerful, gainfully-employed cousin in comparison, far less druggy and chaotic. The synth dominance is a symmetry on the surface at least, definitely a dominant instrument of Eden in Reverse, swamping atop the guitars in the mix and helping the album's retro-futuristic vibe, virtually John Carpenter-influenced at points of Incense Swirls, for example.

70s Genesis, Arcturus, and latter-day Cynic are worthy touchstones, too, yet it's interesting that Hail Spirit Noir aren't really comparable to any other act in what they're doing here, feeling truly unique. There's a near-complete lack of harsh vocals for the first time on a Hail Spirit Noir album, and the almost whimsical-feeling clean singing from new frontman Cons Marg feels very original - perhaps certain Dødheimsgard moments the only comparison? The variety at play is fascinating, too. Intro Darwinian Beasts is formed from pattering percussion and almost male choral clean singing before layered synthwave, different in its own way than the spacey Hawkwind-esque sounds of Alien Lip Reading, strangely beautiful at moments in a marked mirror-image to the horrifying mental soup of Oranssi Pazuzu. The upbeat and catchy Crossroads adds a touch of welcome energy to the album, guest vocalist Lazare providing suitably Borknagar-ian and Solefald-esque vitality in his verses without feeling out of place in the warmly enveloping prog that surrounds them.

And the psychedelic elements are definitely to the fore later in the album, trippy interlude The Devil's Blind Spot a worthy habitant in the tracklisting at over three minutes long and not at all skippable. It introduces first single The First Ape on New Earth, where drummer Foivos and guitarist Theoharis get to showcase their skills a little more obviously as the guitars and drums take a lead role and the synths act as hooky enhancement. And then things turn to outer space on gripping ten minute finale Automata 1980, the closest piece here to some lost 60s sci-fi movie soundtrack with its building drums and swelling synths. When vocals appear around the four-minute mark and even when the synths take on a peculiar melody of their own at six minutes, the track continues to be closer to soundscape than song, lifting the listener with the band as they rise to an oddly grandiose peak of wordless singing and keyboards - and then fade out, leaving you floating in silent space. It's a great end to a great album, quite possibly Hail Spirit Noir's best yet, although listeners will find much to enjoy throughout their discography. Some will prefer older, more blackened pieces, but this incorporation of gentler prog and space rock influences into their sound has really worked for Hail Spirit Noir, and Eden in Reverse is a highlight of 2020.

Killing Songs :
Incense Swirls, Crossroads, Automata 1980
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Hail Spirit Noir that we have reviewed:
Hail Spirit Noir - Oi Magoi reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
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