Category: Goth / Metal
Blurb: Heavy on melody, mood, musicianship, and above all metal, the latest album from this Portuguese export finds the band over two decades in and at the top of its game.
11 albums in and still going strong, Portugal’s premier gothic/metal act Moonspell is showing no signs of either slowing down or losing the creative spark that has made the band so renowned across the world, making Extinct a decidedly ominous but hardly apt title. Combining the dark romanticism of goth with the seething fury of metal is not as simple a task as many might believe; more often than not, the result is more depressing in its achievement of an almost cartoonish gloom with little actual meaning. Such has never been the case with Moonspell, and with Extinct, the band demonstrates this meshing of qualities as excellently as ever.
Of particular note is the exchange of guitars and keyboards, all of which are expertly blended in equal measures to attain a sense of classical harmoniousness. This is best exemplified in “A Dying Breed” as a baroque intro of harpsichord and strings steadily gives rise to a kicking and melodic helping of dark metal as guitarists Ricardo Amorim and Pedro Paixão showcase their prowess, particularly in the soaring solo, quite well. The same can be said most especially of “Malignia,” which may well be one of Moonspell’s greatest musical moments as a synth arpeggio evokes a celestial vibe along with Paixão’s elegantly produced synth choir and orchestral swells, the thunderous rhythms of bassist Aires Pereira and drummer Miguel Gaspar launching the song into an explosively dynamic range. Also notable is “Domina” with the presence of an acoustic guitar in the verse, the song bursting into operatic grandeur with a chilled ambience that is given a final beautiful touch by the biting guitar solo.
Of course, one cannot discount Fernando Ribeiro as the voice of Moonspell, and on Extinct, he showcases the fullness of his range marvelously. Effortlessly alternating between the crooning baritone so identified with goth/rock and a guttural growl often employed in doom/metal; indeed, in moments like the scathing chorus of such songs as “A Dying Breed” and the title track, along with the melodious and darkly classical flavor of the music, this writer is reminded of the likes of Daylight Dies or My Dying Bride. “Medusalem” is a particularly noteworthy performance from Ribeiro as he switches from graven narrator to an almost ghostly howl in the wind, evocative of the song’s Egyptian feel, and while the lyrics to “The Future is Dark” may not be the most poetic, Ribeiro’s sense of drama combined with the song’s lush and sweeping atmosphere makes for a depressingly lovely moment. “La Baphomette” ends the album on a surprising note as a jazzy cabaret with a foggy exchange of swinging pianos and combined guitars and horn section, Ribeiro speaking in a rather ugly French whisper that makes for an unsettling though slightly whimsical conclusion to Extinct.
It could be argued that Extinct does not tread any new ground for Moonspell, as the band has been heralded for over two decades for its distinct brand of goth/metal; however, after so many years of these musicians honing their craft and redefining the parameters by which such dark genres can be combined, it is more than enough that Extinct is simply a first-rate album that shows Moonspell at the top of its game in every regard. Heavy as much on melody, mood, and musicianship as it is on metal, Extinct is an album that reaches across categorical trappings and deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
Moonspell Website http://www.moonspell.com
Moonspell Facebook https://www.facebook.com/moonspellband
Moonspell Twitter https://twitter.com/moonspell
Napalm Records Website http://www.napalmrecords.com
Napalm Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords
Napalm Records Twitter https://twitter.com/NapalmRecords
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)