MOONSPELL - Alpha Noir
April 30, 2012, 7 years ago
Portugal's MOONSPELL has had a late-career resurgence since '06's Memorial, the group steadfastly crafting records that rival, and mostly surpass, the mid-'90s classics, even if Wolfheart and Irreligious are mired in all sorts of nostalgia and lore in the here and now of 2012. Alpha Noir continues Moonspell's dedication to excellence and metallic best practices, this record an impressive foray in its totality, even if Moonspell has written more aggressive and caustic fare in its varied collection of past lives. The 'heaviness' (hate that term, sorry) point doesn't even play into current analysis though, as Alpha Noir is an exuberantly conceived collection of songs written by consummate professionals, guys who fought the mid-'90s "metal is dead!" wars and lived to tell about it, lessons and scars (not necessarily in that order) prominently displayed on this newest offering of Sides A and B. The effect of Moonspell's longevity on the calibre of Alpha Noir can't be overstated, as a band without the kind of 20 year history Moonspell lays claim to wouldn't be able to write material that is this mature, this multifaceted and this regal, Moonspell drawing on its primary metal influences (funeral doom, black, gothic), but also existentially incorporating THE CHURCH's spire-of-despondence post-punk or THE FROZEN AUTUMN's '80s-obsessed darkwave, even if those elements don't explicitly make themselves heard on Alpha Noir. So many of these songs are anthems in waiting and if it wasn't for the growled vocals they might even make impressions on hard rock radio, these tracks efficiently constructed and effectively presented, with all extraneous layers and unneeded fat cut away like the bloodiest of butcher's blocks. It's a cliché, but who cares: fine wines get better with age, and so does Moonspell. Alpha Noir never would have been possible in '95, and that's part of the appeal. One senses Moonspell is just fine with the comparison to a nice bottle of Port.