Review Summary: A very dark musical and lyrical trip that progresses the band’s vision without losing any of their originality.
On their sophomore album, Oi Magoi
, Hail Spirit Noir created a truly original album, blending black metal and psychedelic progressive rock. It was a true work of art, which reminded us that by tastefully mixing genres, great albums are born. Where do you go from there, though?
Mayhem in Blue
, while not discarding the avant-gardish dark style of music that made Hail Spirit Noir so extravagantly unique, stands completely in its own right pushing the theatrical element to the extreme. The new album relies heavier in effects while in the same time the structure of the songs became more straightforward: Spoken parts in Greek, a variety of horrifying sounds and bizarre instruments like didgeridoo, humdrum or barrel organ set up a majestic yet dark ambience in almost every song. Again, labeling their music in any way is something Hail Spirit Noir refuses to do.
There is a subtle and addictive paradox in Hail Spirit Noir’s latest work. One would expect that extending the theatrical elements on Mayhem in Blue
would take its heavy toll on heaviness, which is clearly not the case. It seems that the band decided to take every aspect of their music a bit further. Yes, there are more mellow acoustic parts and clean operatic singing than in the past, but when the band decides to lay out the riffs, they are heavier than ever before. While the instrumentation is remarkably varied, the songs never lose their focus or drag out aimlessly. Everything is there for a reason.
The opening sequence and sharp riffing of I mean you harm
picks up from where the last album concluded, creating a certain groove that screams to be reproduced live, while it’s fast playful rhythm carefully paves the way for the blunt spoken and effective chorus. Clearly the band means us harm. A sudden change in pace in the eponymous track is meant to catch off guard the unsuspecting listener and it works brilliantly. Like a poisonous snake that hypnotizes its victim, Mayhem in Blue
is a spaced out, acoustic opus that showcases its great charm using a structured interplay of clean singing and brutal devilish growls.
The undercurrent of impending threat in Riders to Utopia
, unveils in the form of a menacing guitar lead and a monotonous yet dynamic drum beat. Although the shortest song of the album, the band is pulling no punches and unleashes its most addictive chorus. By the time Lost in Satan’s charm
begins, you find yourself lost inside the album’s peak and longest cut. The carnivalesque, freaky intro gives way to blackened riffing that drives the song in the most absurd way, mixing slow guitar parts with sudden rhythm changes and militaristic beat with energetic drumming. Running around 11 minutes, this carves a niche for larger epics for Hail Spirit Noir and the album’s highlight. The Cannibal tribes come from the Sea
paints a gloomy atmosphere showcasing a cleverly used reverb effect that midway transforms into a hellish stream of layered guitar leads. Towards the end of the song, a well crafted short solo erupts into a violent blast beat, seconds before the closing number How to fly in Blackness
tightens its mournful grip for one last time on the listener.
This is a very dark musical and lyrical trip, affecting listeners' mind and soul as every great album should. It progresses the band’s vision without losing any of their originality and most probably, Mayhem in Blue
will be like nothing you have heard this year. Above all, there is something special in watching a band evolve. Hail Spirit Noir has come a long way the last 5 years, getting a better grip of their art, song by song, album by album. Mayhem in Blue
is their audacious step to become one of the best metal bands out there. Just listen.