Hail Spirit Noir album review – Mayhem In Blue

Avant-garde Greeks Hail Spirit Noir get infected with Norway’s mutant strain on new album

Hail Spirit Noir album cover

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Black metal and prog rock first cosied up for a trip to the circus in 1997 with Arcturus’s La Masquerade Infernale, and Mayhem In Blue sounds like the sonic offspring of that peculiar blind date has come of age.

This Greek trio claim their third album explores their “aggressive side”, and righteous opener I Mean You Harm follows through with a snarling Nocturno Culto-style rasp and an irresistible, if familiar-sounding, black’n’roll headbang riff bringing to mind Slayer jamming with Motörhead, or Entombed circa Uprising.

On the title track, burbling sci-fi synths, playful Mellotron flutes, quirky acoustic flourishes and portentous clean vocal melodies suggest Hail Spirit Noir are trapped in 1994 and Darkthrone’s Transylvanian Hunger has never been written. Riders To Utopia makes a good fist of melding these strange bedfellows, though it can’t help sounding a bit arch, even camp, in a way that psych/prog BM tricksters like Oranssi Pazuzu or Meads Of Asphodel never do. Rather than assimilating and absorbing their disparate influences, HSN seem to take them in turns, but this is an entertainingly unorthodox album.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.