Released: 2015, Napalm Records
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