Remember that first time you listened to Moonspell‘s Wolfheart or Irreligious? If you’re like me—or half of the other writers here at AMG—that was a hella long time ago. And, after over twenty years, those fucking albums still beckon me. Sure, tag me as a seeker of nostalgia, mark me as a purveyor of the past, label me as a connoisseur of memories. But, like it is with many classic records that have taken hold of me, it’s not just the quality of the music that planted the seed. No, it’s also the when, the where, and the what-happened that occurred the first time I listened to these albums. Never pleasant, never happy, the memories surrounding my introduction to Moonspell are dark. But the music was therapeutic. And, with each release, I crave that old Moonspell sound that had me squirming and tearing at my skin. Twenty-fifteen’s Extinct wasn’t quite it (nor was Alpha Noir or Night Eternal) but Moonspell‘re back with a new record and, maybe (just maybe), this will be the one.
Well… it sure is the closest they’ve come in a while. And a lot of it has to do with the album’s theme. 1755 focuses around The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755—a devastating earthquake that hit the coast of Lisbon on All Saint’s Day, parting the sea and exposing the ocean floor before it unleashed walls of water over the city. And what wasn’t destroyed by the tsunami fell victim to five horrifying days of fire. Musically, 1755 is an album best enjoyed in its entirety—much like the band’s old material and less like the past few outings. On top of the unique concept, 1755 is also entirely in Portuguese—something the band has never done before. If anything, you can tell this new record means a lot to them.
Right away, opener “Em Nome do Medo” proves the need to settle into 1755. Though it opens up with a classic Moonspell vibe, this song (like the others) can’t exist outside the whole of the album. After Ribeiro’s haunting whispers and orchestration fill your heart with impending doom, it transitions to a title track full of Rotting Christ-like staccato riffs and a plethora of lush choirs. Midway through, the band lets loose a fine selection of folkish elements and instrumentation that ties the music to its story. Orphaned Land-like, this incorporation pulls you deeper into the history lesson and lends its weight to the song’s earthshaking build.
“Ruinas” has the chugging plod of the title track, chopping vocals and piano licks, and thick melodic layers that make it one of the best on the album. And “Todos os Santos” ain’t far behind—stretching its wings to incorporate the orchestral flourishes of the opener and borrowing the unforgettable moments of “Ruinas.” In front and behind these two top tracks, you’ll find “In Tremor Dei,” “Desastre,” “Abanão” and “Evento,” respectively. “In Tremor Dei” is a passionate piece that incorporates the crooning of Paulo Bragança and heart-wrenching keys, while the latter three keep up a heavy Moonspell pace—in particular, the crushing, headbangable “Desastre” and “Abanão.” All have those emotional elements that are as common to a Moonspell song as a beer is to a pizza lunch; spreading out massive choirs and orchestration across every surface of the album.
Between the heavy, the emotional, the orchestral, and the devastating, lie two oddities. The first is the upbeat and hopeful “1 de Novembro” and the second is the closing Os Paralamas do Sucesso cover. The former is an odd piece that showcases a combination of punkish Ribeiro spitting and thick choir support that quickly separates itself from the rest of the record. Like Extinct‘s “The Last of Us,” “1 de Novembro” is the album’s black sheep—standing innocently in the middle of the herd, waiting to meet your gaze. The latter is made to match the vibe of the album, but this interesting manipulation of Paralamas‘ “Lanterna do Afogados” can’t help but sound out of place.
That said, 1755 is another quality outing from Moonspell. The concept is engaging and there is plenty of gothy emotion throughout the album. Though every track doesn’t resonate, the power behind “1755,” “Ruinas,” “In Tremor Dei,” and “Todos os Santos” make up for it. For those that adore the stand-alone pieces of albums like Night Eternal, you might not appreciate 1755. For those that have been craving a fuller, more textured outing, 1755 might relieve an itch. For me, there is still something missing but, though it’s taken a few spins to absorb, the character is there and 1755 is yet another quality Moonspell release.