THE EUROPEAN METALZINE: your dark space of metal music
Extinct is the eleventh full-length album by the Portuguese gothic metal band Moonspell
Review by Matthew Haumshild
1. Breath (Until We Are No More)
Fernando Ribeiro - Vocals
Ricardo Amorim - Guitars
Pedro Paixao – Keys/Guitars
Aires Pereira - Bass
Miguel Gaspar – Drums
Full stamp of a approval.
I suppose, I haven’t been this excited for a new album in quite sometime. At 34, becoming excited to listen to new music is becoming obsolete. I’d like to think I’ve seen just about everything when it comes to dark-heavy music and that nothing really surprises me so much. Take Moonspell, I’ve been listening to Moonspell since about 1999, 15 years. I have noticed that every few records or so, the band goes through some sort of change musically. The first few albums were heavy on screaming vocals and darker overtones almost to the point of sounding ultra macabre, since Sin/Pecado, they went in a newer direction best described as dark-yet artsy. The bass guitar carrying the rhythm and melodies mostly, which actually sounded fantastic and brooding. This was the Moonspell I came to know. Darkness and Hope was my favorite album for a very long time until this album came out. Then their bass player left, who knows why?
Moonspell went through another change, they became heavier, going back to being more guitar driven than bass driven and Fernando went back to screaming a bit more rather than singing. Memorial and Night Eternal had a few good songs, especially Memorial but I could tell that they weren’t making new fans with these albums, despite how visual Memorial was. Alpha Noir and Omega White in my opinion, began yet another transformation for the band where half the album was dark, guitar driven, aggressive metal and the other half was a page out of the Darkness and Hope and Antidote era of their history. Personally, I preferred the Omega White. I felt it had more character and soul to the band’s music. However, I felt something was missing from the band’s sound. I had asked…what could the band do to get more people to listen to them?
I had no expectations for Extinct because every album since Memorial had lacked a bit of luster. I thought it might be another artsy, dark metal piece that wouldn’t really surprise me much. I pre-paid for the album and I downloaded three of the tracks that iTunes allowed me to and I was very surprised to say the least.
“Breath,” “Extinct,” and “The Last Of Us” are the best Moonspell songs I’ve ever heard. They do not sound anything like they had made previously. They were catchy and heavy! The guitar solos were mixed to utter perfection in every one of these tracks. Both guitar players are great and I wish I could tell them apart, but every solo was expertly executed on everyone of these tracks. I felt I was listening to a new band. Fernando, screamed when the song needed it, and sung when it needed it and it fit like a glove. The arrangements could not have been better either. I wish just of these songs makes it to radio so that everyone hears what Moonspell is all about. Moonspell isn’t the type of band normally that brings a smile to one’s face but after listening to these songs for the first time, I couldn’t stop listening to them. I have never been so surprised about new songs in a such a long time. This was one of those rare times where I want to show everyone these songs regardless of that kind of music they listen to. I feel that these songs reach a much broader audience than they had previously.
It’s easy to write a review on the songs that were available before the album came out so, let me write about the ones that weren’t. “Medusalem,” “Domina,” and “Funeral Bloom.” The first track mentioned has a hard rock, very almost Metallica feel to begin with, with a straight up guitar chugging, nothing too complicated with the drumming, although they were mixed wonderfully, then the chorus kicks in, in full Moonspell mode with Fernando singing on one long note the title of the song, making the song turn into more gothic than anything else. The chorus the song really sets it apart from most of the other tracks, it very catchy. “Domina” is a darker kind of track but not to the point where it’s “Halloween-ish” it’s dark in the sense of sadness although I’ve read the lyrics, at this point, I can’t make heads or tails what they are singing about, I suppose it’s up to the listeners discretion if he’s singing about the after affects of a break up or a death of someone years down the road or maybe something else. The guitar work on this song is absolutely brilliant, the solo in this track could not have been performed better by any other guitar player. “Funeral Bloom” starts out way too slow for my tastes, I nearly lose interest until a minute or so into the track the rest of the band kicks in and the signature haunting scream/growl of Fernando kicks I and this song couldn’t be performed better by anyone else, it has Moonspell written all over it. It’s dark, heavy, and like much of the album, has a catchy chorus, the problem with the song is the intro, it’s too long, but I’ve long been a harsh critic on any band that insists on having these long-stupid intros to their songs. Just fucking give it to me already!
My overall impression and “mix” of the album: The mix was excellent, the sound quality was excellent, Jens Bogren did an excellent job producing and recording the album, I have no complaints. I guess, from a marketing stand point, this album would only be difficult because of the cover design. I don’t like it at all. Yeah, it’s dark, yeah it’s artsy, but honestly, if Napalm wants to sell this album, they should have picked a different cover than a mutilated woman with her chopped off arm holding a rose. I felt the band and the record label had a great chance in marketing this album to the masses, the songs are that good! This is the best album Moonspell has put out and it is the best album I’ve heard since Soilwork’s epic “The Living Infinite.” I couldn’t be more surprised on how good this album really is.
Take my word for it, go buy it! I give it my full stamp of a approval, an album like this doesn’t come along every day.
by Matthew Haumshild
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