Moonspell 01After ten albums (nine for those that don’t count Under Satanæ as an original release), each new Moonspell album leaves me in a state of “ummmm,” “hmmmm,” and “interesting.” Moonspell have always been one of those bands that are easily recognizable, yet unpredictable. After releasing the blackened-goth masterpiece Wolfheart, they ever so slightly transitioned to the classic Moonspell sound of Irreligious. From there, they floundered slightly in some weird experimentation [Sin/Pecado and The Butterfly Effect] before a return-to-form via the somber Darkness and Hope and even more so with the well-balanced gothicism of The Antidote. These Portuguese goth kings then expanded on their Type O Negative/Tiamat sound with some unique curveballs á la Memorial and the so-so 2008 release, Night Eternal; both showcasing an increase in orchestration and an overall epic feel. After nearly three years since the accessibly heavy two-disc (if you ended up purchasing the two discs) Alpha Noir outing, Moonspell follows with their eleventh album and another change in direction. As always, after nearly a dozen spins of Extinct, I’m still stuck thinking “huh…” I guess some things never change.

So, let me make it clear from the start. Extinct is still Moonspell and it’s still solid. Even with subtle changes to their sound over the years, they consistently put out solid material (even though I think their last more-than-solid album was 2003’s The Antidote). Opener “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” has everything you could want from a Moonspell song. Maybe a touch poppy, the bass-led verse explodes into a massive chorus of Ribeiro’s signature rasps, heavy riffing, and all the Orphaned Land-scaping and orchestral grandeur that you could ask for. More here than on previous releases, Moonspell utilizes orchestral passages in the realm of Dimmu Borgir’s Death Cult Armageddon; sitting in the back until it’s asked to the front to give an overpowering flourish before returning to its seat. It works well in the chorus of the opener and “A Dying Breed” but its S&M similarities at the end of the title track are a bit too much for my taste.

Along with the melodies and emotion common to the band, you will find much of the Type O Negative gothiness fans have come to love. Check out the groovy verses of songs like “Medusalem” and “Funeral Bloom” for Ribeiro’s clean, baritone voice as they suck you into a Peter Steele time warp. As expected, Ribeiro spends most of the album transitioning between his Steele-like cleans and signature depressive crooning, while reserving his harsher range for ultimate impact on heavier tracks. The chorus of the aforementioned “Breathe…” wouldn’t be the same without those harsh vox. Likewise, his mix of harsh/clean vox in “Funeral Bloom” and his crushing rasp in the chorus of “A Dying Breed” make these tracks some of the most memorable on the album.

Moonspell 02

Not to be outshined by Night Eternal’s “Scorpion Flower,” Moonspell offers up a couple ballads here in the form of “Domina” and “The Future Is Dark.” Gothy, dark, depressing; these tracks have it all for fans looking to shed tears after a shitty day at work. The latter of the two is more effective in terms of current Moonspell ballads and is one of the highlights of the record. Other songs that fill up the dead spots include the bizarre, upbeat “The Last of Us” and the strange closer, “La Baphomette.” Starting with a riff taken straight from Volbeat, “The Last of Us” is an overly poppy ride that feels out of place on Extinct. On the other hand, the three-minute creeper that is “La Baphomette” consists of piano and some jazzy cymbal work, with Ribeiro giving it his best Tom Waits impression. After a catchy “la la la” chorus, this 45-minute journey comes to an end.

Production-wise, Jens Bogren did a fine job balancing all the instrumentation; bringing vocals, keys, and the orchestra forward and then back to get the most out of each. The DR score is not surprising to me but as with all cases, I would have loved to hear the layers of atmosphere open up more and feel less of the brickwalling on the chunky riffs and frenetic solos. Overall, Moonspell has thrown in another set of twists and turns to surprise me. In the end, it’s the “huh,” “hmmmm,” and “ha,” that keeps me coming back with each new release.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: Facebook.com/Moonspell
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.06 | NA: 03.17.2015

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  • Feytalist

    This review mirrors my thoughts pretty much exactly :D

    Moonspell constantly produces pretty solid releases – some times slightly-less-than-solid, sometimes more – and they’re not afraid of the occasional experimentation, which can turn out quite well (the more gothic rocky Omega White I found pretty excellent).

    But sometimes I just… forget about them for a while. And then I rediscover The Antidote in my playlist and fall in love with its gothy goodness all over again.

    Extinct is pretty solid, yeah, sprinkled with a couple of pleasant surprises. Me likey.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I hear ya. Each time they release something, I basically rediscover them all over again. I’d forgotten how good The Antidote and even Memorial are.

  • Wilhelm

    I was disappointed by the last few Moonspell releases, but I like this as I think they tried to channel some of the more authentic goth stuff and also draw influences from their own commercial past…at the same time it’s not anything too innovative – at this point the band are pretty much secure with their sound, I’m just glad they went more goth because in recent years when they leaned towards the extreme end, it just sounded awkward (because it still sounds, on some level, commercial) Agreed about the DR rating, this could have been even better with a bit more dynamics opening up the sound, although the production/mix still sounds quite good. Overall, the record has good songs, the title track gets stuck in my head, and not in a bad way. I would do more of a 3.5 and maybe even a 4 over time.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Don’t think I could ever give this a 4.0 but it’s a good album for sure.

      • [not a Dr]

        I’ve been listening to it more and more and I think I’d now rate it as Great (4.0)

  • RuySan

    Agree with the review and also love that this band is so unpredictable. It always seems they’re either ahead or completely behind the trends, which probably means that they just don’t care. One example is that they’re earlier releases are quite folky, which is something that they never returned to, even though folk/viking metal was so popular some years ago.

    But i disagree on some fronts. I think that The Antidote is one of their weaker albums, while Night Eternal is absolutely massive. Omega White is completely underrated, which i think is a fault of the band and label for not marketing it properly.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I agree with you about Omega White. I know quite a few people that never realized it existed because it was only offered as a special edition release (most of the people I know still buy CDs).

    • Enrico Pallazzo

      I found night eternal the weakest moonspell’s album, it lacks emotion…can’t take almost nothing from that album.

      • Wilhelm

        Agreed, everyone was on about that Scorpion Flower song which I found about as cheesy as Velveeta.

      • I must be an outlier then, because I really liked Night Eternal, even the pop song (but I’ll give anything Anneke Van Giersbergen does a lot of slack). :)

  • Wow, this is a band I havent thought about in years. I own Wolfheart and Irreligious and maybe one more, I cant even remember.

    Around 2004-2006 I began converting my CD collection to MP3 and build a media server which I still maintain to this very day. I just checked and I have no Moonspell on there, so that says by the mid 00s, I had already forgotten about them! :)

    I’ll have to at least check this out though, who knows, after all, I still enjoy Type O and the older Tiamat albums!

  • Eddy Ferreira

    I like there albums, i don’t really have an Album i dislike, i heard they were releasing a new album and was surprised! So it made me go back and revisit Wolfheart and there other oldies, they are a band that put out constant good albums. Butterfly Effect and Sin/Pecado were odd…but i still enjoyed them nevertheless. Will definitively pick this one up.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Post Irreligious Moonspell are hard to eat. Sin and Butterfly Effect are not my cup of tea, Darkness and Hope is a cool, almost radio-friendly, album, The Antidote is one of their best, better still if you get the poetry book by José Luis Peixoto, made to complete it, Memorial is a bit too long but great, Night Eternal has a feeling that in some musics loses personality over the melo-death riffs from Sweden, Alpha Noir is lacking on good catchy riffs/songs, Omega White is lacking on a bit of weight.
    I’ve heard this album a couple of times and it didn’t impress me like The Antidote or Memorial did. I better keep spinning it a couple more times to create a good idea about it, but so far I’m somewhat unimpressed and I hope that is not my veredict as Moonspell was the band that got me into Metal music.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Here’s hoping their next release is a stunner.

    • Enrico Pallazzo

      keep spinning it and the magic will come

    • Wilhelm

      I didn’t like Memorial at all, I almost cringe when they do aggressive sounding metal nowadays as it usually turns out kind of half-assed, an exception would be the Under Satanae release which kicked fucking ass. Anyone remember Daemonarch?

      • Alexandre Barata

        The part I really dislike when they try to sound heavier is Fernando’s voice. His voice (“growls”) on live is way better anyways. I believe Memorial had great songs, with an heavy gothic sound to them, but everyone each own.
        Can’t say I really enjoyed Daemonarch, musicianship wise Moonspell were superior some years before (except for the drums, oh how weak Moonspell drums sounded on record.)

        • Wilhelm

          Considering it was a drum machine and released around the same time as perhaps their most accessible album (Sin/Pecado) I thought it Daemonarch was pretty impressive. Agreed about Fernando though, something about his harsh vocals, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m surprised they are used so much on Extinct given the accessible nature of the music.

    • Simon Shrimpton

      The Antidote was/is one of my favorite metal albums that I’ve returned to again and again – but I never knew there was an accompanying poetry book. Even now I love the album enough to rush off and buy the book. This album sounds promising from the embedded track – but everything since the Antidote has been a disappointment to me personally..

      • RuySan

        It’s not poetry. Those are short stories written by José Luis Peixoto which is an amazing writer.

        After this discussion i tried The Antidote again and it’s still my least favourite of Moonspell albums. It’s too barebones, without much in the way of arrangements.

        • Alexandre Barata

          True, I was mixing up his books :)

  • Yep, as Moonspell goes, this is quite enjoyable if you go without high expectations.

  • JL

    This is my favorite release so far in 2015. Epic stuff here. Vocals are killer.

    • Vikra

      yup, same to me!!

  • Feeblejocks

    “… a riff straight out of Volbeat …”
    Volbeat writes riffs? This is news to me.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Gold!

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    great

  • I haven’t really liked a Moonspell album since I kind of forgot about them around the time after the Butterfly Effect release. But I really like Extinct. I guess it’s because it reminds me of Wolfheart, Sin/Pecado and especially Irreligious. The poppy, gothic almost middle eastern sounding metal is always something I enjoyed in their sound. So this is a nice surprise for me.

  • Johan Dams

    Must say that this album has a lot of different influences. I hear Theatre Of Tragaedy – Aegis, Paradise Lost – Host and even some Riverside. That is what makes this album so great. A lot of variation in all the songs. Great effort. I think it s a solid 4.0.

  • Daniel A.

    Moonspell is a band that will forever have a divided fanbase. Some will like some albums more than others. It’s usually a love/hate relationship with their discography. Save a few – like me – that are able to tolerate and understand what the album is aiming at and not let himself/herself be annoyed by specific genres.

    My criticism toward them is pretty much spot on this article. There are hints of great musicianship that for some odd reason it never lifts up to godly grounds. It’s like F. Ribeiro strenghts are also the band’s weakness. While he is able to come up with a (somewhat vague) concept for the album and for the most part phenomenal song writing, he is also too much at the forefront with his vocals which leaves little room for the rest of the band to shine. Ricardo is an example of a fine guitar player that seems restricted by the way the songs are usually structured. It never gets truly progressive for a band that thinks progressively and I think that’s that little bit that could make all the difference for their next album. The Antidote probably represent their best work to date when all things considered. Not only there is a strong concept and soul (similar to Wolfheart and Irreligious), the best songwriting but also the time when the rest of the band shun the most. The lyrics, the keys, the tribal drums…the band shined as a whole in that one. It’s truly a desire of mine that F. Ribeiro is able to find the altruist path and instigate more creative freedom to Ricardo & co.

    Another thing that have always confused me is the lack of black and folk elements that were original in the mid-90’s. Ever since Memorial that the late these albums were meant to recapture their early work. If that’s so then they have failed to do so. Not only are we they missing the LPs and Wolfheart, but also an important reason to why they became famous in the first place. Night Eternal, Alpha Noir/Omega White and now Extinct sounds nothing but variants of Memorial mixed with Darkness and Hope. The return of these elements and a more progressive sound could potentially make the next one a classic in the metal scene. However, I am afraid I will never be able to witness them taking that path.

  • Martin Knap

    it’s the “huh,” “hmmmm,” and “ha,” that keeps me coming back with each new review :-P