Moonspell
Extinct
(Napalm Records)

This long-awaited new release from Portuguese gothic metal legends Moonspell seems to recall two of my personal favorite eras from the band and those would have be the Sin Pecado and Darkness and Hope eras respectively. But there’s more to than that, as Extinct represents the band at their most experimental as well as their most passionate. Not only are Fernando Ribeiro’s vocal harmonies elegant, but the guitar sections are also immensely beautiful. But that’s because they’re coming from the same guys who have been doing this kind of thing since the band began. It’s quite unreal to see a lineup that hasn’t changed in eleven albums, but that serves as the majesty and mysticism of Moonspell. Some might even feel the need to consider this record a sort of “gothic metal/pop” because of the quickness and catchiness of the choruses, but in all honesty; that’s the formula that makes up good gothic music, whether you want to go all of the way back to The Cure or not. But don’t fret, because there are still chunky riffs in areas, as well as harsh vocal utterings, so it’s not a complete coffee shop poetry session – and it’s even got some orchestral influence. Reviewing this as a fan and follower of the act since Wolfheart, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been waiting to hear something like this from the band for a long time. When Alpha Noir came out, I didn’t really care for the heavy side of things as much as I did the passionate side, and several of that material still sits on my phone’s personal playlist, as will no doubt some of the stronger cuts on this record. In particular, I was drawn to the album’s title cut as well as “Medusalem”, “Domina” and “The Last Of Us” as these tracks seemed to capture a much cleaner and catchier approach from the band. Towards the latter portion of the record, heavier riffs and harsh vocals are utilized and it’s obvious that they wanted to create an album that offers something for everyone. I’ve already seen one sub-par review in a major magazine that I don’t particularly agree with for the album, and I feel that the listener may have been missing the point completely. If you take in all of the material that Moonspell have done over the years, Extinct feels like an evolution. It’s not another Sin Pecado, Butterfly Effect, Darkness and Hope, The Antidote or Alpha Noir. Rather, it’s something that stands out as a brand new mixture of the heavy and light elements that have made this band what we’ve known them to be. It’s almost imperative that the listener hear the records I have named as well as Irreligious before even attempting to hear this album. I feel that one needs to understand how the evolution began in order to fully appreciate it. Nevertheless, this mix of darkness and beauty is most definitely one of my favorite albums of the year and it’s left me with a bevy of tracks that I will no doubt be listening to for a long time to come. (Eric May)

Purchase Extinct here.

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