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Moonspell - Portugal's Finest

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While the recent threads I've started about specific bands haven't really threatened to break any discussion records, it would be remiss of me to not begin something about the mighty Moonspell. 

They are one of those bands that I've been following closely for exactly 20 years now since 'Irreligious' came out in 1996 (my favourite year for metal). They have consistently produced interesting, atmospheric and sophisticated albums, passing through that ubiquitous 'rock' stage caused by Paradise Lost's 'One Second' before returning to metal with 'Memorial' in 2006. 

A fantastic band. Here is my list of their albums from least best to best.  

12. The Butterfly Effect (1999)

I really enjoy this album, so it coming in last place should tell you how much I love their entire catalogue. Still, the industrial elements here tend to miss as much as they hit. This came out when a lot of my favourite bands were experimenting with electronic sounds, and I didn't connect with it when it was released as a 19 year old. It's got some good moments though. A good album cover, but nothing to get excited about. 

11. Alpha Noir/Omega White (2012)

I really like this double album release and it feels unfair to have it second last. The 'metal' disk 'Alpha Noir' is quite heavy and has some excellent songs, while the rock disk 'Omega White' has a good vibe. Somehow though it just didn't click into a full package of excellence. Some moments of its heaviness, for instance, feel a bit on the wrong side of thrashy. Take 'Lickantrope' for instance. Cool song, cool idea, but almost too hectic? Maybe I'm just being a wimp and should leave the hall. Very Septicflesh cover art again. It suits Septicflesh but not Moonspell. 

10. The Antidote (2003)

The first part of this album is absolutely killer. 'In and Above Men' is a brilliant song, and this whole album has the somewhat reserved gothic rock/metal vibe that I love about mid-era Moonspell but which a lot of casual listeners tend to write off. 'Everything Invaded' has my single favourite guitar solo ever (more or less). The latter parts of this album don't quite hold me, and it's definitely an album for when I'm in the right mood. Awesome band pictures with this package by the way, covered in grease. A cool look., as is the excellent dark cover art.  

9. Extinct (2015)

This is so beautifully produced by Jens Bogren. The kick drum is to die for. I don't think I've ever heard a better kick drum. The songs here are brilliant too, with 'Breathe' and 'The Last of Us' being so catchy. The final song, too, 'La Baphomette' is a nice moody piece in French. Overall, this is an awesome album with a bit of filler. The artwork goes too far though and feels wrong for the band. Bring it back lads. 

8. Sin/Pecado (1998)

Their first experiment with electronics is a personal favourite of mine. At the time it came out I thrashed this to death and would walk around inside wearing sunglasses. This contains the absolutely classic track 'Let the Children Cum to Me' which is a goddamn terrible title but a stunning song that the whole world has forgotten. This is a downbeat and cool album. I listened to this walking around Portugal and it fit so well. It's definitely their most 'Portuguese' album. It's all sunlight, dry and old. One of their greatest covers. 

7. Darkness and Hope (2001)

Downbeat and dark, this is gloriously restrained. That title track is just huge. This mid-era sophistication sounds great to my ears. This is similar to 'The Antidote' only this one has much more depth and ultimately better songs.  God the title track. So good. Excellent production. I also love the symbolism and artwork - simple yet elegant, a lot like the songs.

6. Night Eternal (2008)

This is huge and heavy, and builds upon the return-to-metal sentiment of 'Memorial'. The title track is an amazing song and they've got some rousing choruses here. This also contains the awesome 'Scorpion Flower' with Anneke from The Gathering. All the songs here are world class. Cover looks a bit dodgy with the bloody computer graphics. Why do bands do this? 

5. Under Satanae (2007* 1993-1994)

I wasn't going to include this but @Vampyrique is so in it goes. This is the re-recorded album released in 2007 of the band's first two demos and their EP 'Under the Moonspell'. And it's sensational. The song writing has all the drama and atmosphere of a band with great scope and ambition, and this re-recording is huge, heavy and authentic. The latter term is something sorely missing from nearly every other re-recorded album by metal bands. Tracks like 'Goat on Fire' and 'Ancient Winter Goddess' are classics that most people haven't heard. Mandatory listening. A monument. Cool album cover and fold out inlay. 

4. Memorial (2006)

This album was a miracle when it came out. The energy was back, and it was a huge return to form. Moonspell and Amorphis both released stunning heavy albums in 2006 after getting the downbeat rock stuff out of their systems, and hail Odin that they did. 'Memorial' is exciting, dark, deep and catchy. 'Once it Was Ours' is epic, while 'Luna' is beautiful and atmospheric. Great cover artwork and packaging. 

3. Wolfheart (1995)

The classic debut. 'Alma Mater', 'Love Crimes' - all the greats are here. This is the sound of an enthusiastic band with nothing to lose doing what they enjoy - making a great gothic metal album. And it's lasted all these years as a classic. Fabulous wolf photograph cover art. 

2. 1755 (2017)

This album really came out of nowhere, and it's the ultimate sound of triumph. Entirely in Portuguese, it chronicles the earthquake that destroyed most of Lisbon in 1755, and it's inspired. The album is upbeat and energetic, but oh so musical and spine-chilling. I don't know what's happened here, but the band has reached some sort of nexus of perfection with each of its constituent parts. 'Desestre', 'Todos os Santos' and 'In Tremor Dei' reach that nigh impossible mix of headbangable yet arms-raised-glorious simultaneously. The production is a Tue Madsen masterpiece - full, crunchy yet vibrant and gorgeous. The cover art is excellent but not jaw-dropping. 

1. Irreligious (1996)

Not just Moonspell's best, but one of gothic metal's cornerstones. The first three tracks of 'Perverse... Almost Religious, 'Opium' and 'Awake' that flow together like that is arguably the best start of any album ever. This is sophisticated and classy too, with songs like 'Raven Claws' and 'Ruin and Misery' just strutting all over the speakers. Then it all wraps up with 'Full Moon Madness' and you're left tingling and hailing at the throne of king atmosphere. Fantastic cover art that now symbolises a whole genre for some of us. 

 

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I don't think the "rock" phase was all down to Paradise Lost - lots of bands outside their sphere of influence in the mid to late 90s were simplifying their songs, losing some of the harshness, and going for a more commercial sound.

Anyway I did listen to Moonspell quite a bit when I was in college. I've put them on occasionally since then for old times' sake; I went through a long period of not being interested in that style, but the ice has thawed a bit. I saw them several times and once wound up talking with one of the guitarists outside the club while he was having a cigarette; he expressed some bewilderment that the population of NYC was larger than that of his entire country. They really put on a great show, Fernando is an excellent frontman.

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8 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

I don't think the "rock" phase was all down to Paradise Lost - lots of bands outside their sphere of influence in the mid to late 90s were simplifying their songs, losing some of the harshness, and going for a more commercial sound.

Anyway I did listen to Moonspell quite a bit when I was in college. I've put them on occasionally since then for old times' sake; I went through a long period of not being interested in that style, but the ice has thawed a bit. I saw them several times and once wound up talking with one of the guitarists outside the club while he was having a cigarette; he expressed some bewilderment that the population of NYC was larger than that of his entire country. They really put on a great show, Fernando is an excellent frontman.

I can't speak for every band's rock phase but certainly there was a very conscious push into electronics, rock and experimentation by bands who have acknowledged PL's influence on them after 'One Second' came out. 

Paradise Lost's 'One Second' came out in 1997, then we had: 

Moonspell's 'Sin/Pecado' in 1998 with electronic elements, more refined rock sounds.

Theatre of Tragedy's 'Musique in 2000 with total electronics and a pop sensibility

Amorphis's 'Tuonela' in 1998 that lost the growled vocals and went straight ahead rock (with PL producer Simon Efemey no less)

My Dying Bride's '34.788%... Complete' in 1998 had electronics and massive experimental elements. 

I was there at the time and it was a very tangible, openly discussed phenomenon in the media. They are also my favourite bands and it was a difficult time of adjustment hahahaha. These bands who were always PL's contemporaries and were never afraid of admitting influence from them.  Obviously they also did it because they wanted to do it too. 

As for meeting the Moonspell guitarist (who is an amazing and underrated player!) that's awesome! 

I'm just amazed by these bands that have been going for 20+ years. They're a part of my life and I can't imagine them not going anymore. I'm still gutted that Sentenced retired, but there's obviously no way for a reunion now! 

 

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I mean, look no further than the black album for the archetypal radio-rock simplification that seemed to typify the idea of commercial viability back then, right? It's hard for me not to see a general shift towards simpler riffing and verse-chorus-verse song structure as being driven by market forces. Whether it was for commercial reasons or not, so many bands shifted away from the chaos of extreme metal and towards a more coherent rock and/or electronic sound to some extent - off the top of my head, Carcass, Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Amorphis, Convulse, Xysma, Tiamat, Katatonia, Dark Tranquillity, Beyond Dawn, Satyricon, At The Gates, Fear Factory, Rotting Christ, Sepultura, and I'd argue Slayer, Deicide, and Cannibal Corpse at least in their song structures... others will come to mind, but you get the idea. One point being that Paradise Lost was firmly in the middle of that, I wouldn't really call them a driver so much as just another exemplar of that trend. But also, I do remember being there, and at the time some of it felt like a good thing: validation! Our bands were finally growing up! Writing "real" songs! Looking back on it, at least for myself, I can only shake my head.

This isn't to discount what you're saying, just to place it in what I think is a relevant larger context. 

I was surprised by how chill the Moonspell guitarist was. I didn't even realize it was him for a little while, we just happened to be hanging outside the club at the same time. I think this would have been on the Darkness And Hope tour. I like some of their more rock-oriented material, but that album has aged pretty poorly IMO. I keep meaning to go back to the first two albums and then forgetting.

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57 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

 

 

57 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

 I wouldn't really call them a driver so much as just another exemplar of that trend. But also, I do remember being there, and at the time some of it felt like a good thing: validation! Our bands were finally growing up! Writing "real" songs! Looking back on it, at least for myself, I can only shake my head.

 

So at the age of 17-18 you were glad bands were finally growing up? You must have been significantly more mature than me, because I didn't get it at all at the time.

I still really enjoyed aspects of those new albums I mentioned earlier, but none of them matched my love for those bands' previous releases, and I felt that in many ways bands were copping out. I knew 'One Second' was cool, but I remember turning to my friend and saying, "Is this dance music?" Then I listened to the new albums by Moonspell, Theatre of Tragedy and My Dying Bride and said, "IT IS DANCE MUSIC!!"

While it's obvious now, back then I didn't really understand the whole Black album controversy - I just enjoyed it as another Metallica album. Once 'Load' hit though...

(Grand)FatherAlabaster, your palate moves much more quickly than mine as I'd only just settled in to the mid-90s gothic and doom metal template (largely created by Paradise Lost) before Paradise Lost contributed in specific ways but not exhaustively to the mellowing and introduction of electronica into a small number of bands in that scene who, but a year before, had nothing like it in their sounds.

Of course I accept they are part of a broader cultural zeitgeist and in no way do I state, implied or otherwise, that PL invented mellowing out or were moving in isolation from the influencing musical trends of the day.  

We should be posting all this stuff in the Paradise Lost thread. This conversation is certainly more organic than late 90s gothic metal amirite.

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Don't misunderstand me, I'm not going after you here, it's just something that's been on my mind. :) And yes, my taste has always been mercurial, and not particularly under my control - I'm often surprised to find how much it changes - but it seems to tend toward greater inclusivity over time, so I'll take it. Music has been a hugely important part of my life for decades, and I wonder how much of my personal development through music during those formative years was at the mercy of much broader forces that I couldn't even conceive of.

We do tend to let threads go where the conversation takes them, but if you'd like to keep this thread focused on Moonspell, that's fine.

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One thing I've noticed about Moonspell is that they're often mentioned as a yard stick for other bands. For instance on a couple of the Septicflesh (hail) rereleases the sticker adorning the jewel case says "For fans of Moonspell, Cradle of Filth, Type O Negative, (early) Paradise Lost". 

They're one of gothic metals great constants. Long may they reign. 

Edit: New Moonspell album coming in 2017!!!

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14 hours ago, JadedErotika said:

MMM, so, new Moonspell is coming--is about time---Night Eternal is my favorite album of theirs...Moonspell is such a classic metal band, been a fan of theirs forever....

'Night Eternal' is a great album! I can't wait for the new album, and it's good to see another Moonspell fan around here. 

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10 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

Great band. My favourites are also Wolfheart, Irreligious and Memorial. 

 

 

 

They're amazing albums. I'm really looking forward to '1755' too. I hope it's better than 'Extinct'. I really like 'Extinct' of course but it doesn't quite grab me as much after (many) repeated listens.

 

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14 hours ago, Requiem said:

They're amazing albums. I'm really looking forward to '1755' too. I hope it's better than 'Extinct'. I really like 'Extinct' of course but it doesn't quite grab me as much after (many) repeated listens.

 

 

I'm certainly looking forward to 1755 as well as any future releases but I need to go back and listen to their last couple albums as my recollection of them is vague at best. I purchased the Alpha Noir/Omega White limited edition CD but was disappointed with it at the time of its release. On Alpha Noir, it sounded like Fernando, at times, was blatantly imitating Sakis from Rotting Christ and I found this to be odd and distracting. Extinct didn't really leave a strong impression on me either.  

 

 

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7 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

 

I'm certainly looking forward to 1755 as well as any future releases but I need to go back and listen to their last couple albums as my recollection of them is vague at best. I purchased the Alpha Noir/Omega White limited edition CD but was disappointed with it at the time of its release. On Alpha Noir, it sounded like Fernando, at times, was blatantly imitating Sakis from Rotting Christ and I found this to be odd and distracting. Extinct didn't really leave a strong impression on me either.  

 

 

Never noticed the Sakis similarity. I actually need to drag 'AN/OW' out again too. Coming after 'Night Eternal' it was always going to be a big ask.

 It's funny cause Fernando did some guest vocals on a track from I think 'A Dead Poem' back in 1997 when Sakis was doing his best to ride the gothic metal train and was recording at Woodhouse Studios and buddying up with Moonspell. I love both of those bands - especially Rotting Christ's last album 'Rituals'. My god what an album.

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20 hours ago, Requiem said:

Never noticed the Sakis similarity. I actually need to drag 'AN/OW' out again too. Coming after 'Night Eternal' it was always going to be a big ask.

 It's funny cause Fernando did some guest vocals on a track from I think 'A Dead Poem' back in 1997 when Sakis was doing his best to ride the gothic metal train and was recording at Woodhouse Studios and buddying up with Moonspell. I love both of those bands - especially Rotting Christ's last album 'Rituals'. My god what an album.

The way Fernando enunciates the words and his pacing (for lack of a better word) at times reminds me of Sakis. At least on Alpha Noir. 

I'll need to spend more time listening to Rotting Christ's last few albums. I'm mostly just familiar with their 90s material. 

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14 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

The way Fernando enunciates the words and his pacing (for lack of a better word) at times reminds me of Sakis. At least on Alpha Noir. 

I'll need to spend more time listening to Rotting Christ's last few albums. I'm mostly just familiar with their 90s material. 

Rotting Christ's last few albums have been really samey, and there seems to be a lot of riff recycling going on from old Sakis, although it really all seems to work perfectly on 'Rituals'. I think you'd enjoy the drama and pomposity of that album. It's just stunning. 

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5 hours ago, Requiem said:

Rotting Christ's last few albums have been really samey, and there seems to be a lot of riff recycling going on from old Sakis, although it really all seems to work perfectly on 'Rituals'. I think you'd enjoy the drama and pomposity of that album. It's just stunning. 

I'll give it a listen when I get a chance. 

I've been listening to Extinct by Moonspell the last couple of days and it is better than I remember. But I know that Moonspell's more rock-ish albums take me more time to get into. That was even the case with Irreligious and now it is one of my favourites. 

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On 13/08/2017 at 2:03 PM, Vampyrique said:

I'll give it a listen when I get a chance. 

I've been listening to Extinct by Moonspell the last couple of days and it is better than I remember. But I know that Moonspell's more rock-ish albums take me more time to get into. That was even the case with Irreligious and now it is one of my favourites. 

Albums like 'Darkness and Hope' certainly keep it downbeat and lack the theatrics of the post-'Memorial' era. I love that sort of music though so for me it works. 

My friend and I bought 'Irreligious' just after it came out and it drove us wild. Amazing moment in time. So when I got into Moonspell they only had two albums out. Makes me feel old, but it's been great following their journey. 

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On 8/14/2017 at 1:27 AM, Requiem said:

Albums like 'Darkness and Hope' certainly keep it downbeat and lack the theatrics of the post-'Memorial' era. I love that sort of music though so for me it works. 

My friend and I bought 'Irreligious' just after it came out and it drove us wild. Amazing moment in time. So when I got into Moonspell they only had two albums out. Makes me feel old, but it's been great following their journey. 

That must have been an interesting journey following Moonspell, or any band from that era, with all of the stylistic changes that bands were undertaking. 

I was actually late getting into Moonspell. My first exposure to Moonspell was through hearing some of The Antidote as well as Darkness and Hope. It didn't really do much for me at the time but I appreciate those albums now. Same with Irreligious. Later on I heard Wolfheart and liked it more because it aligned much better with my interests musically at the time. But it really wasn't until 2006 with the release of Memorial that I became a real Moonspell fan, although ironically, I didn't like Memorial at first. But now, they are probably a top ten metal band for me, or maybe just outside the top ten. 

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7 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

That must have been an interesting journey following Moonspell, or any band from that era, with all of the stylistic changes that bands were undertaking. 

I was actually late getting into Moonspell. My first exposure to Moonspell was through hearing some of The Antidote as well as Darkness and Hope. It didn't really do much for me at the time but I appreciate those albums now. Same with Irreligious. Later on I heard Wolfheart and liked it more because it aligned much better with my interests musically at the time. But it really wasn't until 2006 with the release of Memorial that I became a real Moonspell fan, although ironically, I didn't like Memorial at first. But now, they are probably a top ten metal band for me, or maybe just outside the top ten. 

Same for me - I'd say they're just outside the top ten. 

I got into doom and gothic metal in 1995/1996, so I technically missed the debut albums from My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Amorphis, and Cradle of Filth, but have nonetheless followed their twists and turns for the last 22 years.

I'm amazed and excited that they're still together and, with the exception of Anathema, putting out some of the best music of their careers. 

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Their rock stuff tends to fall a bit flat for me these days, but I actually like The Antidote a good bit better than D&H. They got back some of the mojo they lost. There was probably a time about 15 years ago when they would have been in or near my "top ten" if I'd thought of it that way. I'm probably only getting back to them now because of discussion here, so thanks, I guess... :D

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On 18/08/2017 at 5:41 AM, FatherAlabaster said:

Just a side note, apparently 1755 is sung entirely in Portuguese, which sounds more interesting to me for some reason.

My intial impression on that was that I wasn't overjoyed, but then when I thought about the fact that I already have about ten Moonspell albums sung (primarily) in English, so a Portuguese language album is fine. 

The album artwork is stunning! I can't wait to get this - so many great bands putting out albums this year! 

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2 minutes ago, Requiem said:

My intial impression on that was that I wasn't overjoyed, but then when I thought about the fact that I already have about ten Moonspell albums sung (primarily) in English, so a Portuguese language album is fine. 

The album artwork is stunning! I can't wait to get this - so many great bands putting out albums this year! 

I'm curious more than anything. They do have some songs in Portuguese and it isn't a bad language to listen to.  

The cover art is very different and unexpected but refreshingly better than what they've had lately; the sort of overly photoshopped work that I see on Belphegor albums and so many other metal album covers. 

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22 minutes ago, Vampyrique said:

I'm curious more than anything. They do have some songs in Portuguese and it isn't a bad language to listen to.  

The cover art is very different and unexpected but refreshingly better than what they've had lately; the sort of overly photoshopped work that I see on Belphegor albums and so many other metal album covers. 

The artwork of 'Extinct' was a real misfire for Moonspell. They should have used something much more subtle and appropriate. 'Extinct' looks more like a tech death cover or something. Seth Siro Anton from Septicflesh is responsible, and the new Septicflesh cover also over does it in my opinion. Everything the does these days has to be some kind of mecha-alien freak of nature and quite frankly it's stupid. Love Septicflesh though - love them. 

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    • It was 2014 when Corpsessed released their debut full length and mighty fucking good it was too.  Some 4+ years later and it is time for the sophomore release to land in my music stream and seek my attention.  When I say seek I actually mean possess my attention.  Although the album is by no means perfect, this record grabs hold of you by your very soul, dragging it off on a journey littered with horror, darkness and crushing heaviness to boot.  One of its main successes is the atmosphere that is obvious from the opening of "Impetus of  the Dead" and plays an integral part over the remainder of the release.

      It is a very well structured album too, with strong song writing that layers tracks up to behemoth size and proportions.  Yet at the same time there's a real sense of balance too, for every cavernous and mammoth like structure there's shorter and more intense bursts that whilst moving the pace slightly away from the heaviness, don't distract too much from it.  "Paroxsymal" and "Sortilege" are great examples of this, two well placed tracks that add a variety to the pace and increase the memorability of the whole experience.


      The album only has two weak points for me.  The penultimate track on the record seems just a random and not altogether necessary inclusion, especially given the quality of "Forlorn Burial" before it and the vast ending of "Starless Event Horizon" after it.  Secondly, the production does seem to give off a muddled sound on some tracks although the horror of the atmosphere and those lead guitars certainly do rescue the day on more than one occasion.  In a year that has struggled overall to bring many standout DM records, "Impetus of Death" will be a welcome addition to any fan's Top 10 DM Albums of 2018 no doubt.  It is one of the stronger records of 2018 and also a fine step up from their debut offering also which makes me excited for album number 3.

       

      4/5
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