After the stunning 2012 debut Pneuma which turned me in a life-long fan, and the follow-up Oi Magoi, the unique and exciting progressive/psychedelic/post-black trio is back, ready to unleash, after a two and a half year absence, its latest wyrd nightmare on 28th October for the ever open-minded Dark Essence.
Featuring Dimitris Douvras (Rotting Christ, etc.) on mixing desk duties and mastered by Alan Douches (Chelsea Wolfe, Motörhead, etc.), Mayhem in Blue is guaranteed to bend our minds. About time this amazing band gets the credit it deserves.
HSN will celebrate their release with two Greek shows alongside VIRUS! The lucky ones will be able to catch them at the Kyttaro Live Club in Athens on 28th October, and the Eight Ball Live Stage in Thessaloniki on 29th October. We do hope to see them across Europe soon.
In the meantime, here’s a brilliant interview with the Greek band by Andreas Schiffmann, inclusive of (thank you!) an update on the current socio-political situation of a wonderful country that has been disrespected and violated without remission.
ED. Alex Mysteerie
Would you translate the album’s intro for us, please?
It’s Greek for “The Root of Evil runs deep, so deep not even the hand of god can reach it”
What does the colour blue in the album title symbolise?
Well, blue is perceived as a calm and peaceful colour. This turns the title, “Mayhem in Blue”, into one big antithesis. Despite the surface-level serenity there’s plenty of chaos lurking in the waters. Seeing as the earth is usually portrayed with the colour blue, it’s a nice play on words to show the Devil’s hand is wreaking havoc on our little marble of life, whether we see it or not.
How does the cover artwork of the album fit into the whole concept?
As I said, the title means to illustrate the state we are in and to kind of give a few hints about our own music and how calm parts merge with frightening ones to create a monstrous whole. Therefore, the plague doctors you see emerging from the sea represent the underlying waves of destruction about to erupt. The bell they are about to toll is nothing than if the signal to our own end. The scenery you see would be an almost one were it not for these figures. They lend a menacing tone to the proceedings and paint the titular conundrum perfectly. We are not the most optimistic of chaps and rightfully so unfortunately. The cover art fits almost every song on the album in a different way. The obvious connection to the title track aside, it’ll be interesting for the listener to try and connect the dots between every track and the artwork. We are quite proud of it.
Who is the person you mean harm to in the opening track?
That’s a tricky one. It’s not a person specifically. It’s about the selfishness of human nature and how easily it is exploited both by ourselves and figures of authority, whether they are religious and philosophical ones or political organisations. Almost every relationship that is formed, either party has an inherent need to be proven right, to constantly be the better one. That’s not necessarily bad in itself as it is sometimes the needed push to advance one’s self. So usually, at some point this need to control turns to violence, be it physical or psychological, obvious or behind the scenes. I’ve found very few groups of people that genuinely care about each other. Families are equally guilty of that as sometimes what parents call best intentions could easily be children’s, spouses or anyone’s nightmare. Religions are the best example of this. Yet represent the conundrum in the humanity’s existence. People formed religions as a means to explaining phenomena they couldn’t grasp and then followed them blindly, suppressing their desire to progress and yet in the end, every single organised religion has a number of rules set in stone for their respective flock. Also, the lyrics make for a good horror story, hehe.
With regards to ‘Lost In Satan’s Charm’. How much of a devil worshipping group are Hail Spirit Noir? How do you compose such a long track? Was it planned this why right from the start?
We are a nothing-worshipping band if that helps. Also, what is the Devil? Is it a cartoon character? If that’s what most people have in their heads, then we are most certainly not. Is it the opposite of the Christian god? Again, we are not. The Devil is a figure that to us represents freedom and knowledge, the desire to move forward. The charms we are referring to is essentially what every religion has demonised in their respective luciferian figures. It’s an act of control over the populace which has been indoctrinated into the idea they need a belief system to navigate with. So, these luciferian charms are the ability, the need to explore anything while respecting each other. They are the action of reasoning with our impulses to decide whether we give in to them or not. Sadly, most of the thinkers of our world, regardless of whether we agree with them or not, have been labelled heretics before they were eventually recognised. As for composing the track, we never set out to compose with a specific length in mind. It would be pointless. Haris is the main composer so once he gives a sketch of a song things get added, removed or repeated until we are content. This particular one turned out as long as it did because it told a story. And there was no way the tale could be told if any of these parts were missing. It’s kind of like trying to give sound to a picture. There was also a lot of improv in the studio when we were tracking. We explored a variety pf sounds that we hadn’t tried out before and got brilliant results. Another charm of the Devil. Imagine if we had stuck to some sort of rules: some of these parts would not be even here. Same goes for our vocal choices. Things are tried and anything that clicks stays.
What made ‘Mayhem In Blue’ the title song?
I think it’s one of the stand-out tracks on the album, being evocative of the cover art quite effectively. It speaks of an almost ecological nightmare, a nature’s revenge sort of tale. It’s a quite a personal one and Haris wrote the lyrics to this. This nightmare he speaks of is unique to all of us. Not one person deals with the destruction going on around us the same way. They visualise it differently. But it all begins with a serene picture that is piece by piece being destroyed. This antithesis we spoke of before is constant here and is a really strong title.
‘Riders To Utopia’: How does a utopian world look like in the eyes of Hail Spirit Noir?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band but personally, I really do not have a clue. That’s why at the end of the song the riders go mad. There is no single truth. I mean, I really don’t get how we can reach a point of a collective mind. That speaks of uniformity, which I despise. So many great minds have fallen off the wagon while in search of an ever hiding truth. But again, it’s also a little horror story. Where the different riders think they’ve finally found Utopia only to kill each other because they do not agree. That way, their efforts go unnoticed and the Devil, this utopian figure, is quite pleased with himself and equally disappointed he remained elusive to his champions. But, you know, riders like these exist everywhere. Live to think another day.
Does ‘The Cannibal Tribe Came From The Sea’ tell a concrete tale, or is it mere invention?
It’s a bit terrifying, isn’t it? It not a concrete tale, no. These creatures rising from the sea or the stars we know not. And instead of trying to survive they try to keep the elders alive by breeding young ones to feed them. While all around them, the world goes by and they revel in destroying it, in shedding the blood of everything to satisfy the needs of the eldest cannibals. Lots of blood and gore but please, take a moment to think where humanity’s evolution and life on earth in general begun. Then, tell me, is it all a product of our sick imagination?
Was it a conscious decision to have a rather peaceful ending with ‘How to Fly in Blackness’. How does it fit into the overall narrative?
This is a really abstract song both lyrically and musically and we would really like it if everyone got out of it what they want. As for it being peaceful, we decided we would end the record with a twist instead of a bang. After a prolonged period of total devastation, there’s a ghostly peace, a nothingness that is soothing and serene. Kind of like our demented finale, to ease you into your final destination. After mayhem, you get blue…
Having Alan Douches mastering the album of a Greek band is rather unusual, particularly because the result does not sound like anything the man has done so far. What was your aim with respect to this?
To get it to sound as good as possible. We recorded and mixed the album with Dimitris Douvras again and once again he rose to the challenge spectacularly. Believe me, it was not easy to mix this one. Once he was done, we knew we needed a different feel this time around and having heard his work on albums such as Chelsea Wolfe’s, we were certain he could get the right tones for the record. He did a brilliant job as I think it’s our best sounding record to date, which is the point as well. Do you really think it’s strange we worked with him? I think anyone could work with anyone provided they agree on a certain level about how they envision things. It’s a matter of choice. Plus, we have to thank his noodliness for the internet.
Greece has been in the media for quite some time due to the economical crisis; how does the people fare these days, and how did it affect you as artists?
We are in a right mess, aren’t we? It’s such a sad state of affairs right now. At this point in time it’s not only the economical aspect. The people’s psyche has been torn to shreds as whatever light of hope was shed, it was proven false and a mere vote-scavenging trick. The right wing is gaining momentum but that’s true in all of Europe. There is great unrest here. There are also the refugees to deal with. No matter what you call them, what you label them, they are people. So it’s a matter of how a country that’s been brought to its knees financially can provide for thousands and thousands of people? I really have no answer to that. And the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It’s only natural they affected us. How could they not? You cannot escape reality when you are an active person. You can choose to ignore it, but even that choice means you’ve given the matter some thought. So, it does haunt us and to a certain extent formed the album’s bleak atmosphere, although subconsciously. The title is an apt description of what’s going on right now in the Aegean sea.
Do you folks play live? What can we expect from your shows, and if you could go on tour, which group would be an ideal partner?
Yes, we have already scheduled our first gigs ever. As soon as we started rehearsing, we realised we were not satisfied when playing the songs exactly as they are in the album. So we decided to go on with a lot of improvisation in our live shows, sometimes even changing parts of the songs. The ideal partner? Opeth and Goblin come to my mind…hmm a tour with Goblin would be ideal!