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Moonspell: Alpha Noir

"Moonspell returns to the scene with what might be the most important album ever to be released by this legendary Portuguese metal band. With a renewed focus, they have risen to a new level so as to reclaim their throne as the leading European dark metal band. Alpha Noir is a nine-track outburst that shows us a much more incendiary band than in the past." Thus reads the record company's blurb on Moonspell's latest, in no way putting pressure on the band to deliver the goods (as Judas Priest may well have put it.) Fortunately for all concerned Alpha Noir is a very fine slab of dark metal and one which should find a place in an overcrowded market.

What it has going for it are excellent, melodic songs which wouldn't be out of place on an Arch Enemy album (ooh, kiddie-metal shout the naysayers) and I mean that as a good thing as like Arch Enemy, Moonspell keep it heavy but remember to bring the tunes as well. This album combines top tunage with gothic atmospherics and should suit the dark/black/death/general metal fan in your life. At only a shade over forty minutes it doesn't outstay its welcome either but does come as a double CD version which wasn't available for review.

01. Axis Mundi 4:56
02. Lickanthrope 3:49
03. Versus 4:39
04. Alpha Noir 4:30
05. Em Nome Do Medo 4:27
06. Opera Carne 3:52
07. Love Is Blasphemy 4:31
08. Grandstand 4:53
09. Sine Missione 4:57

Added: May 15th 2012
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2350
Language: english

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Moonspell: Alpha Noir
Posted by Danny Heater, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-05-15 08:19:03
My Score:

One thing that people cannot deny about Moonspell's records, despite a noticeable divide, is that they are very passionate. Alpha Noir is no different, but unlike the rest of their albums it seems lost in the band's shadows. It tries to connect to all elements of their past, and technically succeeds, but in doing so lost a lot of its potential character. That said, bigger fans of the past couple records will probably get a lot out of this anyway.

One good listen with headphones reveals that what you hear is what you get, and you will hear unadulterated heaviness with darkness and (potential) hope. This album is certainly their most thrash-oriented, most evident in "Axis Mundi" and the title track, but as stated they've included all elements from their past as well. Except folk. You'll hear the gothic synth breaks and huge choruses from their early era in "Lickanthrope" and "Versus," you'll get industrial influences and groove from their middle era in "Axis Mundi" and "Em Nome Do Medo," peculiar keyboard FX la The Antidote in "Love Is Blasphemy" and "Grandstand," and choir blasts from their recent records in "Opera Carne" and the black sheep, personal favorite, medieval-symphony instrumental "Sine Missione." In and of itself, this is surprisingly cohesive and interesting to hear.

On the same note, it's also not that compelling concerning a future Moonspell direction. The bulk of the album, while fun, doesn't have nearly as much lasting power as it would had it not relied on the past and had some more originality and less bedrock on raw metal; one can be raw and heavy in many other ways and they've previously done so. At least the album art is thought-provoking and the lyrics culturally outspoken, for better or worse. Amongst the clash and brazen force, however, there are still noteworthy sequences, like the final chorus and outro of "Versus" where they find the inner beauty of the orchestrated parts of the track, which is unfortunately short-lived. As implied earlier, "Sine Missione" also exhibits a symphonic style, but feels quite arcane and as the layers grow, the power grows with it. "Em Nome Do Medo" - finally another full-on Portuguese track" - is another fantastic track because it always has something new going on during a repeated section, keeping things fresh, and is also undoubtedly the most honest track on here in terms of theme and emotional complexity of the music.

In the song "Grandstand," Fernando screams "So many stones out there to turn and yet we choose to ignore...So many ways out there to thread and yet we choose to turn back." I think that once they begin thinking about their next album, reflection on what they didn't do on this album will be rather helpful in choosing any other path they've yet to tread. Moonspell have too much potential to squander it with simple attempts towards a powerful creation, and it's really unfortunate that it's been slightly heading downhill in that direction for three albums now. It's not about being tamed, but more about fear of becoming nearsighted. Em nome do medo, invade everything.

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