Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moonspell – Extinct




Earlier in the year, a gem within the heavy rock spectrum was delivered to the mostly unsuspecting. I’m sure that the hardest of the hardcore fans of Moonspell were expecting nothing less, but for me, I thought that there was no way that the Portuguese outfit would be able to meet, let alone surpass, the epicness that they had created with 2012’s Alpha Noir/Omega White records. And, that’s not to say that album was so much surpassed as it was built upon. Where Alpha Noir was bombastically dark and heavy, Omega White had a softer gothic, yet no less dark aspect to it….here, Moonspell deliver some of the most beautiful melodies and moments of dark tranquility to their signature sound.

Ten tracks long (fourteen with the vinyl edition), Extinct is that perfect album for those who want their melodies dripping with sticky memory, that pull on the heart strings, that force one to stop and ponder where they’ve heard those sounds in the past. It’s heavy and grooves down through the soul, throbbing with the pulse of heartache and emotional torture. It’s the kind of album that I have always wished to get from The Cult….an album that’s both delicately fragile and abrasively heavy, one that can sway the hips while being ugly as fuck!

Album opener “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” is an attention getter. The interplay of the guitars and the vocals of Fernando Ribeiro immediately grab the listener by the heart strings, and when the whole band drops into its groove, I dare you to not bob your head. I love the textural strings (brought to you by Mumin Sesler String Group) as they add a new focal point, a new wrinkle in the heaviness. That balance of shadow and light shines through on this track, amazing groove and melody....a part that shows the vulnerable side of the band, which is then juxtaposed with the heavy and absolutely abrasive chorus, where we hear the versatility of Ribeiro’s vocal powers. He digs deep and guttural, in complete contrast to the crooning verses….and it’s magical!

The second song and title track carries on the groove. Heavy and rhythmic, this song has the power to keep the body moving. Compositionally speaking, Extinct is the opposite to “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” in that Ribeiro’s vocals are abrasive and aggressive through the verses, but amazingly melodic and beautiful at the chorus, which is essentially what one is looking for in a chorus….something that sticks deep in the brain and has one humming at those unconscious moments. The orchestration of the string section on the track gives the song a huge feeling, very grandiose and epic. At the heart of this tune is romance. Maybe a little nihilistic, but romance nonetheless…..the end of the world is at hand and all the protagonist wants is one more taste of her lips, something to remember in the afterlife, something to hold onto on his final journey through the ether.

Side two features a couple of my favorite tracks on the album in “Malignia” and “Funeral Bloom”. The former is tempered with a haunting and somewhat introspective rhythm and features some of Ribeiro’s best and most impassioned vocals. I feel the pain and personal torture as he conveys the story of his reaching out to help and receiving a dead stare in return for his efforts. “Funeral Bloom” is a prophetic tale about the end of the world, as we follow our leaders who would have us believe that they know how to lead us to safety, and who ultimately guide us to the threshold of hell. At least, that’s my interpretation of this intricately woven tapestry. Beautiful and horrifying all at once!

The bonus tracks are different mixes to four of the tracks on the album (just with a play on the original song titles), a different interpretation to the songs and a nice touch to the album. Would I have picked up the vinyl edition just for these tracks? Probably not, but since I was already picking up the wax, it’s a nice bonus.

The album is a nihilist’s wet dream. It’s beautiful in its sadness and disparity, horrifyingly ugly in its hope for the future. I’ve never been so happy to hear about the end of the world and our ultimate demise! If you’ve ever wanted The Cult, Depeche Mode, Jesus And The Mary Chain, Love & Rockets (you know where I’m going with this) to be add some heaviness to their darkened thoughts, to dip their big toes into the metallic swimming pool, then Moonspell’s Extinct is THE album for you. And to think that I was on the fence about picking this one up when I saw that it was up for pre-order. I think the reasoning I was initially hesitant to dive in on this one is that Moonspell finally hit pay dirt with me on Alpha Noir/Omega White and I didn’t want to have that revelation ruined by an inferior release. No fears there! Moonspell hit this one out of the park.

Go pick it up!!!

- Pope 

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