Twenty years into their career, Portugal’s Moonspell continue to craft dark, moody and metallic rock. On their 11th album Extinct, the band delve further than ever before into the goth side of rock and the end result is an uplifting and catchy collection of songs raising the ghosts of Fields of the Nephilim, Joy Division, The Cure and Sisters of Mercy while keeping some of the metal flair their fans know and love. Moonspell recorded Extinct at producer Jens Borgren’s Fascination Street Studio in Sweden.
Breathe (Until We Are No More) starts off with lots of energy, the band is joined by the Turkish String Orchestra and there is some dazzling guitar work to accompany Fernando Ribiero’s croons and growls. The title track feels like an anthem from the opening drum kicks, Ribiero trading clenched barks with deep throated and powerful singing. Aires Pereira’s meaty bass and Miguel Gaspar’s massive drum slams anchor Ricardo Amorim’s wailing guitar solos from floating off into space. Medusalem is a head-banging number with Ribiero switching between gravelly spoken vocals and soaring sang choruses, surrounded by chugging rhythms and Pedro Paixão’s exotic string flourishes.
Amorim kills it on Domina, tearing out one melodic guitar solo after another. The Last of Us has a bright pop feel with colorful keyboards and uplifting vocals that is just the slightest bit cheesy but good fun regardless.
Malignia is another darkly cool song that blends in chilling keyboards and strings, whispered vocals drawing you in until the drums crash and Ribiero angrily sings “I thought I was the one.” Funeral Bloom is blue-lit and shadowy, the velvety vocals, synths and guitars broken up by jarring screams that ramp up the energy.
A Dying Breed isn’t as successful at bringing together the different elements of metal and goth, yet the strings and Amorim’s soothing guitars more than make up for any stylistic missteps. The Future is Dark takes an emotional and dramatic approach with silky synths, sexy bass and Ribiero’s searching and textured croons to create an instant goth classic. And Amorim’s richly toned guitars at the end are melodic and powerful.
Moonspell wrap up Extinct with a creepy fun ditty called La Baphomette, Ribiero growling like Tom Waits over carnivalesque instrumentation.
(by Bret Miller)