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Moonspell
Extinct
March 2015
Released: 2015, Napalm Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Portugal's Moonspell make a definite impression before you even hear the music on their 11th album. The cover art for Extinct is one of Septicflesh frontman Seth Siro Anton's most disturbing concoctions – and that's saying something – with its naked armless and ravaged female corpse, a decaying rose affixed to one stump and something that resembles an animal's snout protruding from one of her breasts.



Bloody tears and open wounds on one of the amputations provide the only real color and the inverted cross carved into her forehead speaks to the ritualistic nature of the atrocity. It looks like something out of the grim as fuck “True Detective” series HBO and it definitely grabs your attention.



However, it might actually end up making the wrong impression. Though the artwork certainly does speak to the prevailing lyrical theme here – the end of life – as espoused by the title track, “A Dying Breed,” “The Last of Us,” “Funeral Bloom,” “The Future Is Dark” - it does so far more explicitly and horrifically.



Indeed, anyone expecting something more brutal, more black/death metally than Moonspell's typical goth/symphonic-tinged grandeur – an extension, say, of the “Alpha” side of 2012's Jekyll & Hyde Alpha Noir/Omega White double album – is in for a mighty big surprise here, especially with the almost Tom Waits-like closing number “La Baphomette” and its ragtime piano, horns, shuffling beat and French lyrics.



If anything, Extinct is one of Moonspell's more listener-friendly efforts, with its heavier aspects and gothic timbre contrasted by anthem inviting melodies and choruses, and bountiful hooks. The ethereal “Domina,” “Medusalem” with its Middle Eastern splashes, and the buoyant “The Last Of Us” and the title track are especially lush and catchy. The end of human life never sounded so good.



A generous window dressing of keyboards and strings helps assuage some of the dread in “Funeral Bloom” and “Dying Breed” Ribeiro evokes with his melancholy baritone - at times, it seems as if he's channeling late Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele. Still, orchestration or no, the second half of the album does get a bit ponderous with one somber ode after another and none of “La Baphomette's” weirdness or “Domina's” pop sensibilities to perk things up.



So maybe you can't judge Extinct by its cover, It's still a compelling outing – and perhaps might not have been had it better captured the artwork's intent instead of the other way around.
Track Listing

1. Until We Are No More (Breathe)
2. Extinct
3. Medusalem
4. Domina
5. The Last Of Us
6. Malignia
7. Funeral Bloom
8. A Dying Breed
9. The Future Is Dark
10. La Baphomette

Lineup

Fernando Ribeiro - vocals
Pedro Paixão - keyboards, guitars
Ricardo Amorim - guitars
Aires Pereira - bass
Miguel "Mike" Gaspar - drums


Next review: » Moonspell - Extinct
Previous review: » Moonspell - Darkness and Hope

Moonspell
Extinct
March 2015
Released: 2015, Napalm Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Three years after a critically acclaimed double album “Alpha Noir/Omega White”, the Lusitanian werewolves of Moonspell are back in 2015 with a new offering “Extinct”. It is their second opus released by Austrian label Napalm Records and already their eleventh one since their creation in 1989 under the name of Morbid God. When I looked at its weird cover artwork designed by their long-time friend Seth Siro Anton (vocalist of Septicflesh), I didn’t know what to expect at first glance. It’s only after listening to it twice that I’ve realised those dark metal pioneers created a fantastic masterpiece.



With this new album, Moonspell have proved they’re undoubtedly the masters of gothic metal. Throughout their whole career, the Portuguese have constantly been trying to innovate, change their musical direction and experiment while keeping offering great records, of which some of them are considered to be cult masterpieces and highly influential within the gothic and dark metal genres. They have been continuously taking risks by incorporating something new to every album they’ve released so far. As a consequence, they’ve lost some fans but conquered many others afterwards. That’s also what makes them a unique band.



“Extinct” marks the return to their glorious gothic era at the time they were at the height of their popularity in the mid-nineties. Their old black metal roots are totally inexistent here. I don’t think the fans of their most extreme works will be disappointed as they have clearly surpassed themselves as musicians. Moonspell have never done such inspired and melodic songs before. It has been a while they haven’t carved such beautiful jewels. Those ten new tracks also contain lots of diverse influences that fit together perfectly, showing the great musical wealth of their art.



Fernando Ribeiro’s deep voice is still very efficient and brings a warm Mediterranean charm to their compositions. He provides some of his typical growls as well, proving that he hasn’t denied his dark metal influences. His vocals’ intonation is more various than in the past which is a good thing. And he’s not the only one in the band who has surprised me. Ricardo Amorim has never been so talented than he is now. His guitar solos are epic, emotional and technically remarkable. It’s like he has incorporated all his feelings into his guitar to produce sumptuous melodies. As usual, Pedro Paixão’s orchestral keyboards are impressive once again. His atmospheric layers of synths enshroud each song in a magnificent veil. As it was not enough, he has added some soaring electro sounds reminding a bit their 1998 gothic masterpiece “Sin / Pecado”.



Moreover, “Extinct” contains another great surprise. Fernando and his mates have finally decided to add some traditional Middle Eastern folk music with the participation of a Turkish orchestra. They haven’t done it since the release of their cult classic black metal EP “Under the Moonspell” in 1994. I’ve been waiting for that for ages. Of course, this Middle Eastern folk touch makes the compositions even more majestic due to its “One Thousand and One Nights” charming atmosphere.



To conclude, there’s one thing I would have never expected from them: a song written in French! The last track “La Baphomette” is very original as it reminds me the old traditional French music from the beginning of the 20th century. As I’m Parisian, this song has automatically a special meaning for me and I have to say Fernando did really well on it since it’s a difficult task to sing correctly in that language for someone who is not a native speaker.



“Extinct” will require a large open-mindedness to be fully appreciated. It is without any doubt one of Moonspell’s finest works to date and one of the best gothic metal albums ever made. After more than 25 years of career, those Lusitanian werewolves are not ready to stop amazing us.



- Review by Olivier Manso
Track Listing

1. Breathe (Until We Are No More) 05:33
2. Extinct 04:42
3. Medusalem 05:06
4. Domina 05:09
5. The Last of Us 03:26
6. Malignia 05:06
7. Funeral Bloom 04:10
8. A Dying Breed 04:29
9. The Future Is Dark 05:09
10. La Baphomette 02:48
11. Until We Are No Less (Bonus Track)*
12. Doomina (Bonus Track)*
13. Last Of Them (Bonus Track)*
14. The Past Is Darker (Bonus Track)*

* Limited edition Mediabook bonus tracks

Lineup

Fernando Ribeiro Vocals
Pedro Paixão Keyboards, Guitars
Ricardo Amorim Guitars, Keyboards
Miguel Gaspar Drums
Aires Pereira Bass


Next review: » Moonspell - Memorial
Previous review: » Moonspell - Darkness and Hope





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