Published on Monday, 02 March 2015 19:40
Album title: Extinct
Release date: 6 March 2015
Label: Napalm Records
01. Breathe (Until We Are No More)
05. The Last Of Us
07. Funeral Bloom
08. A Dying Breed
09. The Future Is Dark
10. La Baphomette
The great Moonspell are taking a long and hard road to extinction and they will drag us all along, I can assure you. Exactly twenty years after their first full length release, Wolfheart, the Portuguese quintet is back in black and believe it or not, they are on their prime. Establishing their recognizable sound throughout their admired and rich repertoire, their latest album, Extinct, is everything anyone who at least fancies Moonspell a bit would want and wish, as it not only portrays their immense talent and skilful musicianship, but also depicts just how much they have grown and learnt throughout the years. So what you are in for is an incredibly transcendental and remarkable path towards the end, that won't make you fear for life, but you'll want to drive faster and further into the promised extinction as you go along.
Imagine taking all the best features of Moonspell's discography and integrate them in the most eloquent sounding melodies: that is what they are offering us. On Extinct you will find the uncompromising rawness and tenebrous, dense atmosphere of Wolfheart, the sensual smoothness of Sin/Pecado, dark romanticism of Darkness And Hope and grandiose compositions with felicitating orchestrations, which we have mostly admired on Alpha Noir/Omega White. And nothing is left to coincidence. This album opens up to so many different segments: some songs display more of a melodic black metal influenced and organic sound, delivered by filthy, metallish, straightforward guitars riffs, spiced up with absolutely genious guitar solos and blasting rhythm section. On the other hand, it also has a softer, more melodic side; the classical moonspellized gothic metal, with slight goth rock and gotn'n'roll underlying tones. One highly important feature, which needs to be exposed as well is (as probably expected) the vocal work of the majestic Fernando Ribeiro. Though I've never been a big enthusiast of his screams (and I am still not), his clean vocals excel in every possible way on Extinct. Up to Night Eternal, I have been noticing his techniques have improved grandly, and now for the last couple of releases I couldn't help but noticing he has been expanding his vocals into new spheres and became an absolutely brilliant interpret. He is in the prime of his vocal work, completely in charge of what he does with his vocal chords, which results in such seemingly effortless and elegant portrayal of a wide array of emotions, which enhance the atmosphere of each and every song to its maximum.
There is absolutely no doubt Moonspell gave it all they have on Extinct. I'm sure you have all gave proper amount of listens to the album's opener "Breathe (Until We Are No More)", a staggering piece of sonic art, combining all the aforementioned elements in just one song; a song, which holds such vigorous, but elegant passages between different tempos and holding every single element in undeniably great balance with the others. The title song was also released prior to the album's birth, a song that got us all even more excited with its lush and rough soundscapes. Stepping a bit out of the comfort zone, "Medusalem" flirts with oriental tunes in a classy manner, while "La Baphomette" swirls into the theatrical, almost avant-garde paths, bringing out the slightly ghastly and deranged side of Extinct, which even briefly reminded me of Devil Doll. The mesmerizing "Domina" and pulsating "The Future Is Dark" are two remarkable pieces of stripped-down obscure romanticism and find their counterpoint in "Malignia", a profoundly tenebrous song, dense with haunting keyboard melodies and horror-esque, asphyxiating ambient. "The Last Of Us", the song that had the honour to be the first released song and broke the silence, left quite a bitter aftertaste in my mouth at first, as it felt all the weakest parts of Darkness And Hope were being thrown together. But hearing this song entwined in the dynamics of the album, it shines in a completely different light - I even daresay I found some sort of The 69 Eyes darkish sophistication in it.
You see, when I started writing these words, I wanted to give as few words as possible. I wanted you to anticipate the album and feel the adrenaline rush once you give it a spin. But I just couldn’t do that, as I am bedazzled and hypnotized by every single note and every single word of it. The fluent movement of darkly sounds, building its atmosphere on seductive keyboard harmonies alongside Ribeiro's expressive vocals, oozing with bittersweet ambient will mesmerize you with its sweetness, but still leave you wandering in the night. This release is so much more than I expected and besides the sheer satisfaction of enjoying in such stupendous piece of musical art, it gives me great pleasure that Moonspell are still – after 26 years of their being – full of fresh ideas, bold enough to explore different aspects of their sound, sliding through colourless soundscapes, moving further and most of all – with such immense knowledge possessing absolute control of what they are doing. Extinct may revolve around dying and extinction, but Moonspell have never been as alive as they are.
Review written by: Ines