MOONSPELL - Extinct
March 18, 2015, 4 years ago
Every three years or so when Moonspell releases a new record, we're collectively reminded that the band is amongst the most effective metal acts to have come out of the 1990s, this Portuguese collective constantly morphing but still reaching impressive artistic plateaus with each shape-shift. 2012's Alpha Noir/Omega White was an especially astute reminder of this fact as that album was a reckoning day despite appearing twenty years into a career, Moonspell founder Fernando Ribeiro and his metal-goths channeling their spectrums of aggression and burning all paths leading out of the void.
Latest album Extinct is an entirely different experience, though it continues in the Moonspell tradition of being well-written to the point of absurdity. That said, there's a caveat (there always is) and before we get too sloppy with the compliments, let's address the problem directly: the Sisters Of Mercy-esque baritone vocals that did no justice to the Sisters and do no justice here, Fernando sounding like the worst moments of that goth night that recently got cancelled at that basement club downtown (true story), an affliction also forever suffered by Type O Negative. So, yes, the vocals here grate, and mess things up, and have us wishing that any other style had been used instead, but such is life and we move on.
There's a lot to appreciate and revel in during Extinct's running time, and though Moonspell has clearly re-embraced its goth roots, there are still plenty of old-school Paradise Lost metal forays to satisfy the metal purist. Surrounding that foundation is an absolute palette of styles and substances, Moonspell writing songs that bristle with ambition as these tracks are usually a melange of: appropriate (i.e. tasteful) epic moments; Sentenced scented nooses; unabashedly Disintegration-era The Cure leads and atmosphere; The Church-induced despondence; and, above all, memorability, which is always a plus. (Side-note: Fernando understands the role of his influences it seems, dropping in a lyrical eye wink as he sings "she's lost control" to his in-the-know audience on "A Dying Breed".) The perfect production here helps these deserving songs emerge into robust and confident wholes, the tones full of warmth and professionalism and as pristine as the meticulous eyeliner and black, black lipstick that adorn the faces of so many Moonspell followers. Irritatingly, as if to emphasize just how good this record is, as soon as Extinct hits yet another of its inevitable peaks, one shakes their head and wonders why the hell Fernando's got to sing that way.