Released: 2012, Napalm Records
It seems like not at that long ago that a young Century Media label issued the debut album by Moonspell, WOLFHEART. Here we are 10 albums later and this is my first Moonspell review for Metal-Rules.com. With the slight misstep of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, Moonspell has been pretty consistent over the years, and ALPHA NOIR continues their fine tradition of top-notch albums.
It doesn’t seem like four days since NIGHT ETERNAL but it has been! The band is back with a new label, finding a good fit with Napalm Records the lineup is still pretty stable. Tue Madsen is back as producer for the 40-minute, 9 song album. Madsen always does a fine job and ALPHA NOIR sounds dark, clear and heavy as anything they have ever done.
The band has a quite unique signature sound that is on full display on ALPHA NOIR. Everdark and somewhat gothic, the band have never truly abandoned the intensity and heaviness of Metal, choosing instead to accentuate their sound with many familiar components. There are symphonic aspects, orchestral flourishes lilting keyboards that never become the focal point. The other obvious highlight is the voice of Fernando. He uses his baritone sparingly and his heavier growl to a much greater degree on these past few albums. When he does talk/sing/narrate, his awesome voice is an excellent counter-point to his other vocals. The tone and tempo of ALPHA NOIR is quite heavy and fast and the shorter songs seem quite streamlined and economical in terms of arrangements. The guitar tone is thick and mixed quite far up front, letting the keyboards and other musical aspects simmer underneath the surface. Lyrically speaking, the band tread familiar ground, revisiting their lunar/lupine roots with cuts like ‘Lickanthrope’ and the title track.
ALPHA NOIR is likely the heaviest thing Moonspell have done in a long time and the most straight-ahead as well. Apparently, there is a bonus disc called OMEGA WHITE that is a more symphonic collection of tracks for the discerning fan.