Are you sick and tired of getting your evil delivered to you in cold, icy, frost-bitten care packages from Norway? Does your black heart sink when there’s too much treble in your diet? Do you lack the strength to pick up those juicy invisible oranges you once craved? Sometimes, you just want Satan’s message to be delivered in a nice, toasty-warm basket with some fresh bread, a bottle of wine, and a couple of aromatic cigars. Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir‘s debut, 2012’s Pneuma, scored some pretty damn high marks on this here webpage by Mr. AMG himself. Their newest, Oi Magoi (translated as “The Magicians”), just dropped on my lap, and it’s that loungy, trippy black voyage I didn’t know I was looking for, but ended up enjoying immensely.
Once lead-off track “Blood Guru” kicks in, you already feel like you’re in a foreign, evil land. Picture an evil take on “Symphony For the Devil” by The Rolling Stones, only with growly black metal vocals, Doors-y guitar jams, melodic sighing, some mellotron… oh, and xylophones. Pretty bizarre, yes, but trust me, it fits. Some flowing guitar melodies, an abrupt fake-out of an ending with some keyboard clangs and lyrics growling about blood, and it segues into The Dark Side of the Moon. It’s Evil Floyd. It’s as if Ghost finally left behind the Mystery Machine™ with their meddling teenage buddies.
The album is full of little neat twists and psychedelic turns through the plains of Hell. You have an evil, modern take on “Stairway to Heaven” (“Satan is Time“), more straight-forward 70’s rock with some incredible singing (“Hunters”), an elongated prog-jam session about mermaids that never once reeks of Phish (umm, “The Mermaid”), and it just flows. And while the band themselves are all top-notch musicians, special accolades need to be given to session drummer Ioannis Giahoudis for his incredible jazz-like fills and interesting tempo switch-ups; and vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos, whose soft, velvety-smooth voice adds a mesmerizing hook to “Satan is Time” and “The Mermaid.” Guitarist (and main screamer) Theoharis does a great job crafting memorable guitar lines, especially the closing part of “Blood Guru” and the opening to “Satan is Time.”
Soundwise, even though it suffers from modern-day compression, everything sounds lively and warm. The drums sound natural, the bass is full and thumpy, and the keyboards and guitars have that Floyd feel to them. Hats off to mixer Dim Douvras and the mastering job of Jens Bogren for accomplishing this. That said, there is one minor bump in the road with “Demon of the Day.” The chorus is cheesy as all hell, and the music is pretty basic for the most part (awesome guitar/keyboard jam aside), but the thing is, even this song is a massive earworm, and could sit on a playlist alongside Juice Newton‘s “Angel of the Morning” as a Satanic counterpoint. And now that song is stuck in your head too. You’re welcome! [Uncool. – Steel ” Juice Rolled” Druhm].
So folks, Hail Spirit Noir is defintely worth experimenting with, and Oi Magoi is worth spending your hard-earned cash on. If you want to go deeper than Ghost for your grooved-out evil, or wonder how Sigh would sound in a lounge without a lot of the metal, this is your album. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get my voodoo going…