ALBUM REVIEW: Hail Spirit Noir – Eden in Reverse

When Greek innovators Hail Spirit Noir spewed forth in recorded anger eight years ago it was with tones of the Aegean gracing a strange brew of Blackened Prog Metal. Fourth long-player Eden in Reverse (Agonia Records) sees the completion of a gradual metamorphosis into total Prog, with the absorption of the band’s live musicians transforming the unit into a sextet.

It is quite the reinvention, albeit with the lyrical focus remaining in the darker side of life. Opener ‘Darwinian Beasts’ is edgy yet soothing, warped Electronica: the familiar dual-layered vocals harmonising over a piercing, cosmic keyboard burst. This drops into the heavier ‘Incense Swirls’, the Scott Walker-esque delivery giving warm chocolate vibes to the mid-paced rhythmic thumping and clashing guitars. The increased influence of those keyboards does, however, take the band fully into the realms of Yes and King Crimson but without the often overblown soundscapes: instead focusing on eerie backdrops and oscillating effects which are beefed-up by J. Demian‘s huge basslines and Theoharis‘ sporadic but powerful riff and leadwork.

It’s a striking opening that leaves one with the ultimately accurate feeling that there’s more to discover with each subsequent listen. ‘Alien Lip Reading’ follows the template of its predecessor, the chilling keys howling like a theremin across intricate guitar work and deliberate but enlivening rhythms, creating a complex yet eminently accessible experience. The more up-tempo and bruising ‘Crossroads’, while again heavy on those synth sounds, isn’t shy on the power which is precisely delivered by Demian and drummer Foivos Chatzis. ‘The Devil’s Blind Spot’, meanwhile, begins as if heralding a journey through space yet quickens to an intense rhythmic mass more reminiscent of the Stranger Things soundtracks, the keyboards of Haris and Sakis Bandis lighting up a blazing yet emotive expression of light.

That blend of skipping complexity and mighty rhythm is at its apex in the penultimate ‘The First Ape on New Earth’, those vocals really showcasing the benefit of Cons Marg‘s addition to the fold. The song takes numerous turns yet there’s a fluidity between the quieter, dancing airs and blustering, chaotic anger which maintains total involvement. Closer ‘Automata 1980’ commences with the feel of a 60s Psychedelic sci-fi horror, warbling flashes and ray guns exploding everywhere, before that demonic rhythm section powers in alongside those wonderfully melodic throats: the whole easing into a dramatic and passionate coda. It’s a challenging, morphing and rewarding listen which speaks largely for Eden in Reverse as a whole: a protracted storyline developing through tangential yet linked chapters, and an explosion of creative juice which never fails to enthral and stir the feelings.

8 / 10

PAUL QUINN