Moonspell
Night Eternal
(SPV)

Moonspell has been a fan favorite of mine since the release of Irreligious, but I think the Portuguese lost their focus after The Butterfly Effect. Darkness & Hope, The Antidote had only a few good things going for them, rendering the releases quite forgettable. Moonspell wasn’t the only band in creative doldrums. Anybody care to remember Tiamat’s Prey? Thought not. Moonspell’s attempt to return to form, Memorial, seemed like a washout band was trying to grasp whatever was left of their past glory. The band, that once pushed forward by not doing the same album twice, actually did just that with the release of last year’s Under Satanae, which was sort of an unneeded update of the Under the Moonspell effort. Despite the debatable validity of the album, it was still a nice look at an old album with new eyes. And as ironic as it may be, it was the only spark in their recent career.

This year’s Night Eternal finds Moonspell back on the map, right in the middle of things, where they belong. As the spearhead of the goth-flavored romantic aggression. The band that once was the originator is showing, after a long hiatus, that they’ve gotten their songwriting skills back and are pushing into places heretofore unexplored. “Night Eternal” features industrial overtones — both in effects and in riffing — while still maintaining the melody of past works. “Shadow Sun” is a psychedelic aggressor, which oddly enough reminds of Australia’s Alchemist. “Moon in Mercury” flashes memories of the band’s connection to folkish black metal and the likes of Primordial, where as the opener “At Tragic Heights” gives Dimmu Borgir a run for their money with its epicness.

While some could argue the inclusion of such strong influences outside Moonspell’s comfort zones to be hypocritical, I think what they’ve done on Night Eternal is evolve. Combining the new with the old seamlessly and making it all sound fresh and new. It’s all still clearly Moonspell. They’re simply doing things better than anyone else in the genre.

The band is in top notch form. Everyone chips in when needed and stirs the pot to make it interesting. Ribeiro reminds us why he is still considered to be one of the best vocalists in metal. Going from all out homicidal rage to emotional quivering is one way the frontman convinces us he’s the real deal. When he shouts “Life – is meaningless” in “Shadow Sun” you can’t help but agree. And it’s not just the new elements that bring a long lost playfulness and creativity to the table. Emotionally-driven ‘heavy’ ballads, such as “Scorpion Flower” (with Anneke van Giersbergen doing a great duet with Ribeiro) and “Dreamless (Lucifer and Lilith), are truly beautiful murder.

I must say Night Eternal is probably the best 45 minutes – the best album not collection of songs – since Irreligious Moonspell have created. Not sure I still value it above Sin/Pecado or The Butterfly Effect, as those albums have a history on their side, but should I make a bet for the future… I think it will. Night Eternal is simply, how should I say, an album worth being excited about.

Welcome back Moonspell. I’ve really missed you.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
April 29th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Chris Dick

    Good album. Shockingly so.


  2. Commented by: Dan

    jeez. I hadn’t never heard Memorial but I remember most of the press being pretty positive. This is really the first time I’ve heard someone rip on their recent career like that. Still, I kind of agree that The Antidote was kind of weak with the exception of “Everything Invaded” (love that solo), which is the only song I still listen to. Maybe I’ll have to give this a try though, if its as much of an improvement as you claim.


  3. Commented by: Apollyon

    I might have been a bit harsh with my words but to be honest, I just didn’t feel Memorial was that memorable either. Seemed like most of the songs just faded into each other forming some sort of an unrecognizable pile of music.

    Perhaps I didn’t give it as much time as it might have required. Perhaps it’s better than I give it credit for and perhaps I’ll view it differently in time, but for the time being the new album annihilates everything since Butterfly FX.


  4. Commented by: swampthang

    man the vocalist of this band has got to reel in the ladies with the poetic lyrics he writes. I love this band there just so cool!!!


  5. Commented by: Mark

    This album is extremely impressive, very memorable and it’s definitely one the very best dark metal albums I’ve heard since Dimmu Borgir’s incredible ‘Enthrone Darkness Triumphant’ back in 97. It’s also way better than anything Dimmu Borgir are doing nowadays.


  6. Commented by: faust666

    great album indeed. The opener is worth the price of admission alone..


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