Psychedelic black metal is tough to describe because traditional black metal tends to shun the elements of most music labeled psychedelic. Melody, surrealist lyricism, and a weird atmosphere are all the rage in psychedelia, while in traditional black metal "only death is real." These Macedonian metallers eschew the traditional black metal persona in favor of a unique, somewhat fruity compositions.
I'm not a huge System Of A Down fan but I might've been if you asked me what I thought of them back in '00-'01. Serj Tankian certainly has some vocal talents that few can match, and Theo Liratzakis does a great job of mimicking his weird, somewhat operatic style. His cleans on "When All Is Black" and "Let Your Devil Come Inside" are eerily reminiscent of Tankian. The guitars are eerie as well, featuring typically French black metal chromaticisms on intro track "Mountain Of Horror" and "Into The Gates Of Time." It works well with the generally subtle synthesizers, which do reach their peak prominence on "Let Your Devil Come Inside."
The production on Pneuma is pretty fitting I have to say. Guitars have a whimsical feel to them not unlike Oranssi Pazuzu's, vocals are mostly dominant, and drums and rhythm feature a steady backdrop for the more melodious elements of the music. It works to create a strong atmosphere that Hail Spirit Noir exudes every step of the way. Some tracks are a bit more weak than others though, and I found the mellow "When All Is Black" to be skip-worthy and large chunks of "Into The Gates Of Time" could've been cut down as well. Pneuma is a solid debut with some flaws and it'll certainly be interesting to hear more from this band since their style is so limited and has yet to become a fad.
7.25 out of 10
|1.||Mountain of Horror|
|2.||Let Your Devil Come Inside|
|3.||Against the Curse, We Dream|
|4.||When All Is Black|
|5.||Into the Gates of Time|
|6.||Haire Pneuma Skoteino|