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As Weird As Ever - 87%

Insin, June 8th, 2017

If you know of Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir, you know they’re weird. Firstly, there’s a 70’s feel infused throughout their music, as if this could be an obscure, psychedelic-oriented band from progressive rock’s golden age. The keyboards, sometimes imitating the waver of a flute, sometimes maintaining the prog rock sound, are crucial to evoking Mayhem in Blue’s old-school vibes, though that fairly frequent feeling of being on an acid trip through hell is probably the most important aspect of all.

But then comes the black metal, more as an equal part of the fusion rather than the core sound of the band. Present mostly in the harsh vocals and lyricism, now and then it’s in the riffs and the blast beat drumming. Several bands have attempted the black metal/psychedelia crossover, and none I’ve heard so far have done it in such a strangely accessible way, such a memorable manner.

As always, Hail Spirit Noir has several different types of songs present on their album, and they're good at writing and executing all of them. I Mean You Harm showcases their more straightforward, aggressive side, emphasizing the black metal half of their sound. The title track is a highlight — with open, darkly atmospheric sections and well-integrated heavier parts. Each track is distinct, and some have unique and instantly recognizable bits, such as the quirky, odd-time, and hard to follow keyboard intro to Riders to Utopia, the symphonic instrumentation of How to Fly in Darkness, and the carnival music of Lost in Satan’s Charms. The band is able to keep momentum for heavier areas, drop it when necessary and transform it. The solos are strong, with the exception of the uncertain, wandering one on Riders to Utopia.

Unfortunately, Mayhem in Blue’s main flaw is that when the band tries to be creepy, sometimes it comes off as more like a fun Halloween party than what I assume they were going for. It doesn’t totally ruin the effect, as it’s only a little cheesy instead. The “open” atmosphere works very well, on the other hand, when the music is soft but dark, the drums are sparse, and the clean vocals shine. This is especially effective on the title track (as mentioned earlier) and The Cannibal Tribe Came From The Sea.

Mayhem in Blue is on par with the rest of Hail Spirit Noir’s work. The band continues to evolve, if only subtly, as they integrate small new oddities, new atmospheres, and new songwriting styles into what they’ve already accomplished. They are able to mold their unique, signature sound to different songs with different needs. Mayhem in Blue, along with Hail Spirit Noir’s previous works, is definitely worth checking out, especially if you are searching for something on the stranger side of music.