It took something special for our old pal KevinP to climb out of his cozy Florida confines and return to NCS, and in this case the motivation came from the impending release of a new album by the distinctive Greek band Hail Spirit Noir.
That album, Eden In Reverse, which is set for release by Agonia Records on Friday of this week (June 19th), reveals new directions in the band’s ever-evolving creativity, and Kevin explored them in this congenial interview of Haris (keyboards) and Theoharis (guitars), proceeding with questions on a track-by-track basis. Insights are revealed, wacky references are made, and we’ve included some music streams as well. Our own review of the album will follow soon.
K: “Darwinian Beasts” – I’m getting a very heavy New Age feel, but then the classic Hail Spirit Noir keyboards come in midway through. Really felt like I was listening to the preshow of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT.
H: This is a track that kicks off with a sound used on the “Mayhem in Blue” track. It is like a link to the previous album (the title track). When this sound stops, some synths that show the new character of the album emerge. I thought of it as a bridge between these two albums.
T: It is a bridge indeed, almost like EPCOT is to space. So, I guess you were almost correct.
K: “Incense Swirls” – Not really sure how to describe this track. It’s twisted but still feels very much in line with a Hail Spirit Noir song. It has the ambience of a track I’d find in the middle of a record, but when have you guys done anything remotely “traditional”? LOL
H: This is the first track we wrote for this album. It is a synopsis of the whole album, not fast, not slow, not catchy, not complex. It is an average of what comes next. For me, the middle section is one of the best parts of the album.
T: When we were done we actually realized, “OK, this is probably going to sound different to what we originally thought”.
K: “Alien Lip Reading” – I know you don’t use a theremin but it sure sounds like you do. Three songs in, I’m picking up a science fiction, let’s explore the cosmos, thing. Who’s doing the tortured screams here at the end?
H: The lyrics are not really about space or sci-fi. I would say they are more related to science, evolution and the climax of this whole thing, which is the journey to the stars. The finale is very experimental, even for us, since the melody includes approximately 24 chords for a full cycle.
T: That’s true about the lyrics. Space is just part of an overall theme but no song is specifically about it. After 24 chords for a full cycle, you’d be screaming too wouldn’t you? That’s what Cons Marg did anyway, catering to our Live in Pompeii fetish.
K: “Crossroads” – of course this song is about the Karate Kid battling Steve Vai, right?
T: Black metal is part of us and guess who Vai’s playing in the movie?
K: It’s been ages since I’ve seen the movie myself.
T: It’s a cringe-fest. But there’s one thing you have completely wrong about the song. I’ll let Haris explain.
H: To be honest I didn’t have a clue about this movie, I thought Theoharis wrote lyrics about the crossroads of each single cell and the spring of life. Didn’t know it was about karate.
H: Yes, you completely missed that Lars Nedland from Borknagar/Solefald sings throughout the whole track
K: I was too busy thinking about “sweep the leg” memes.
Would you say this is the most traditional, straight-forward Hail Spirit Noir song to date? Need that radio play for fame & fortune I presume? Hey there’s Cons again on the dual vocals. I like that he’s similar but just different enough to pick out if you are paying attention. And he can actually sing, which is a first for a Hail Spirit Noir album 😂. And just when I make the whole science fiction reference you semi=abandon it here.
H: You swept Lars under the rug alright. Other than that, yes it’s the most radio-friendly song of the album but not of our entire discography.
T: It wasn’t intentional (the catchiness). We were sort of not sure what to do with the track and once Lars agreed to sing and sent his parts over, it was just brilliant.
K: “The Devil’s Blind Spot” – The way this song starts is one of my favorite moments on the album. (Like a Blade Runner movie). Tell me about it.
H: The ’80s synths are most prominent here than in any other track. When we finished the whole album, this song was not even written. But we thought that something was missing and we removed a song and replaced it with this one. Then everything fell into place. I would say that in this one we wanted to create a psychedelic melodic delirium, I really like the building up on this one. We literally had to go back to the studio to record one more track, even though the album was supposed to be finished and ready for the final mastering.
K: “The First Ape on New Earth” – This is the most upbeat and aggressive track on the album. At 2:10 the lead-in and build to that riff at 2:45 and that background noise at 3:00 (what is that?!?!?) and the keyboards by themselves for the next 40 seconds, brilliant! I love the guitar work that follows as well.
H: This could be the album opener but we placed it just before the last track. This was intentional. It is an injection of energy just before the final catharsis.
T: Lyrically this one is about the way we evolve. Not evolution as a process but the way mankind chooses to perceive it. Both in fear of it and in desperate need for it.
Besides the guitars playing the actual riffs there’s a couple of guitars through various effects to get this lilting and almost hidden sound. The guitar work following that, the harmonized leads, are a touch of Demian’s magic.
K: “Atomata 1980″ – Starts off like I’m in a creepy funeral parlor. Was this a deliberate nod to your roots? It is punctuated as it goes along with an otherworldly spacey vibe, so it still fits within the context of the entire album. Then at the two-minute mark it gets freaky, like I’m being hunted and my dreams are in black & white. I particularly enjoyed that flanger effect at the six-minute mark, you do it twice (w/ the keyboards) and then one final time near the end.
H: This is the most Hail Spirit Noir song of the album. This track is the sound we were after when we started working on the new album. I know it is a bit difficult to follow the strange big introduction, since it is intentionally slightly repelling to the ears, but the rest of it is the rewarding part. It is based on some improvisations I did with a minimoog and a CS-80 synth. I think I was playing for hours and then gathered the best parts and tried to incorporate them in the track’s vibe and build-up.
It is the last track since it has an “end” feeling. The end of cosmos? The end of mankind? Simply the end of our album? I don’t know what exactly but it builds up to depict the end as a concept.
Bit of trivia: the last melody of this track is the vocal melody of the first song, so we have a full cycle. But it wasn’t done on purpose, really – Dimitris sang the final melody when improvising and we then realized it was the melody of the first track.
K: Put your avgolemono hats on… Each of you describe your 4 albums with 1 sentence each.
H: Pneuma – 60’s psychedelia through the black metal lens
Oi Magoi – composing for Rosemary’s Baby OST
Mayhem in Blue – the cannibal tribe got out of the sea and was charmed by harmony
Eden in Reverse – homo musicalis universalis
T: Pneuma– black metal in the ’60s
Oi Magoi – a horror soundtrack to an avant-garde black metal party
Mayhem in Blue – melody on drugs
Eden In Reverse – science of the sound kingdom
EDEN IN REVERSE: