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Hail Spirit Noir: Pneuma

For Hail Spirit Noir, the formula championed by bands such as Fates Warning and Vanden Plas, where guitar-driven ambience combined with mystical melodies creates a sort of symphonic adventure that is both soothing and frightening, has proven to be both influential and instructive, as witnessed on their debut release Pneuma. In most cases, a band whose foundation is largely built on the creativity and innovation of others will be written off as being tired and generic. However, what makes a band like Hail Spirit Noir different is that they have successfully managed to incorporate an array of non-metal influences into their music, while still maintaining and ultimately pushing the boundaries of what can be considered progressive metal.

Specifically, the band's knack for both punk-influenced riffage and avant-garde sensibilities makes this six-song collection a piece of art that is truly unique. "Against the Curse, We Dream," for instance, is a song that, guitar-wise, would have fit nicely alongside any one of the gems on the Dead Kennedy's 1980 release Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. "Let Your Devil Come Inside," on the other hand, is a blend of Slint-esque arrangments and lyrics in the vein of Burzum, where the vocals alternate between menacing snarls (think Cancer's John Walker) and operatic singing (think Serj Tankian). Throw in the synthesizers and acoustic guitars and you can start to see what I mean when I say that this is something that is deserved of your attention.

Unfortunately for you, Pneuma has a release date of March 5, so you'll have to wait a bit to hear it. Be that as it may, it would be wise of you not to sleep on this album.

Track Listing
1. Mountain of Horror
2. Let Your Devil Come Inside
3. Against the Curse, We Dream
4. When All is Black
5. Into the Gates of Time
6. Haire Pneuma Skoteino

Added: March 1st 2012
Reviewer: Wesley Smith
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2580
Language: english

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Hail Spirit Noir: Pneuma
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-03-01 18:00:21
My Score:

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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