Moonspell

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Wolfheart

Moonspell - Wolfheart ©1995 Century Media
1. Wolfshade (a Werewolf Masquerade)
2. Love Crimes
3. ...Of Dream And Drama (midnight Ride)
4. Lua D'Inversno
5. Trebraruna
6. Vampiria
7. An Erotic Alchemy
8. Alma Mater

At the time I got this album several years ago, Moonspell seemed as though they were on the verge of something big, yet their subsequent efforts were much less substantial or endearing. Wolfheart still retained traces of their harsher roots in black metal, but also added in a lot of gothic instrumentation. Keyboards, female vocals and more, Wolfheart contained the essential ingredients for their foray into "Atmospheric Metal". Vocalist Fernando Ribeiro used his voice quite effectively throughout the CD, varying from a deep Steelesque gothic bass (probably designed to melt little Porteguese girls) and a harsh black metal roar. Of the songs, "An Erotic Alchemy" best exemplifies what the band was attempting to attain: a haunting soundtrack that captivates the listener completely. The "violin" and classical sounding keyboard arrangement as well as a strong melody and intelligent guitar additions make this song the focus of the record. Other songs attempt to capture this mood but often dodge it, leaving the listener a bit perplexed at things. All in all, Wolfheart is a solid record and much better if compared to their later efforts.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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Irreligious

Moonspell - Irreligious ©1996 Century Media
1. Perverse...almost Religious
2. Opium
3. Awake
4. For A Taste Of Eternity
5. Ruin & Misery
6. A Poisoned Gift
7. Subversion
8. Raven Claws
9. Mephisto
10. Herr Spiegelmann
11. Full Moon Madness

If Type O Negative and Moonspell met in West Side Story, do you know who would win? That's right...our little friends from Portugal. Forget Peter Steele's pseudo "I'm bummed, but highly sexed" goth trip. Moonspell can play circles around the band they are most compared to. Fernando Ribeiro's voice is the first element of success. There are maybe two or three singers in the metal world who have more range and emotional strength than Fernando. From his deep bass to the coarse growl to the sensuous melody...he's got it. On songs like the driving "Opium", all the elements come together to create wonderful music. As the album wears on, my attention does tend to wander. Then comes "Raven Claws", which should be a radio hit if all were fair in the world. And of course, "Full Moon Madness" has the token wolf howl so this is indeed a Moonspell album.

Unfortunately, this album isn't nearly as timeless as its predecessor and over time it found itself sitting on the CD racks rather than spinning in my player. This is the kind of band that can drive you mad because they are capable of ruling the music world as they are so talented...if they just don't over-commercialize their music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1997

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Sin/Pecado

Moonspell - Sin/Pecado ©1997 Century Media
1. Slow Down!
2. Handmade God
3. 2econd Skin
4. Abysmo
5. Flesh
6. Magdalene
7. V.C. (Gloria Domini)
8. EuroticA
9. Mute
10. Dekadance
11. Let The Children Cum To Me...
12. The Hanged Man
13. 13!

You can file this under Talented Bands Who Get Entirely Lost. At one point (maybe three years ago?), Moonspell was one of the more stunning new bands on the atmospheric black metal scene. And for some reason they took themselves way too seriously or not seriously enough, put out the rather thin Irreligious, and replaced all the strangely named band members with much more palatable members. Now we have this, the third full-length from the quintet from Portugal and I really want to question what the heck they're doing here.

When a band chooses to pursue a different musical direction, I can accept that. But the band should ask themselves before embarking on that journey, "What are we really trying to accomplish here?" Otherwise they may end up halfway down the road, huddled in a circle, and trying to make sense of the musical roadmap. After listening to Sin/Pecado, I can only wonder what was going through their collective minds. Influences such as Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, and Type O Negative (but only because singer Fernando Ribeiro shares that low octave that makes many females tremble) fly on by, but the product on a whole lacks a firm grasp on direction. "Abysmo" and "Magdalene" are but two rare moments of clarity here. "Abysmo" makes use of a dark melody with smart guitar playing while the stirring bassline obscures the mumbling vocals of Fernando. (Get those cotton balls out of your mouth.) But at all other points confusion and placid playing bring down this album on a whole. "EuroticA" could best be avoided entirely with its terribly annoying drum machine antics, "Dekadance" sounds like they borrowed some synth lines from new age maestro Jean-Paul Jarre, and "handmadeGod" is ploddingly dull. Overall the band's attempt at accessible gloom and darkness masks their true talent. Hopefully next time around someone will steer them in one concise direction and avoid this mess.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1998

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The Butterfly Effect

Moonspell - The Butterfly Effect ©1999 Century Media
1. Soulsick
2. Butterfly Fx
3. Can't Bee
4. Lustmord
5. Selfabuse
6. I Am The Eternal Spectator
7. Soulitary Vice
8. Disappear Here
9. Adaptables
10. Angelizer
11. Tired
12. K

Once you start creatively spiralling downhill, it must be nearly impossible to stop. Moonspell's last three albums, if charted like the stock market, would have a graph resembling the New York Stock Exchange in late October 1929. Their last studio album, Sin/Pecado, was a muddled mess that lacked direction or real strength in their new direction and now on The Butterfly Effect, they have only furthered the thought that their best days are well behind them. This is what is referred to in the biz as a Total Bore. The Cure for Insomnia. Apparently impassioned music hopped off the bus halfway through Irreligious and is far behind them on this road into the oblivion of generic pablum. Instead of the atmospheric and grand song structures seen long ago, Moonspell opts for a simplistic guitar meets keyboard over a plodding tempo approach which, as we know, is only good for rediscovering the eject button on your CD player. Hints of goth-layered synths are half-hearted and weak. Fernando Ribeiro's vocals are mostly recited as if he was reading the telephone book. On occasion he actually growls a bit, but even kittens sound more ferocious. That's right. Kittens. Fuzzy little mewing kittens. I'd like to point out a song or two that would show a little promise for the future, but that's nearly as impossible as NASA successfully landing a probe on Mars. With luck, Moonspell will either slap themselves on the head and say, "My stars, what were we thinking?" or simply pack it in. What an utter slide into mediocrity for a band that showed so much promise early on.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2000

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Darkness And Hope

Moonspell - Darkness And Hope ©2001 Century Media
1. Darkness And Hope
2. Firewalking
3. Nocturna
4. Heartshaped Abyss
5. Devilred
6. Ghostsong
7. Rapaces
8. Made Of Storm
9. How We Became Fire
10. Than The Serpents In My Hands
11. Mr. Crowley

After a pair of abysmal albums that found Moonspell attemping to meld several styles at once into their music, Darkness and Hope is a very worthy return for a band whom I had completely lost hope in their ability to make interesting music. The past two releases, Sin/Pecado and The Butterfly Effect, were dreadful attempts that found the band stretching well beyond their reach. Fortunately, Moonspell has returned to a more straightforward approach that highlights the dark, gothic aspects of their music with the songwriting approach of perhaps Irreligious. As a result, Darkness and Hope turns out to be an album filled with several quite good songs that utilize the inherent catchiness of dark rock such as Sisters of Mercy rather than a hodge-podge of conflicting sounds and half-baked attempts at experimentalism.

Among the improvements over their last album comes the reliance of stringing together catchy song after catchy song. "Firewalking", "Nocturna" and "Heartshaped Abyss" are three nifty songs in a row that offer listeners a "back to the basics" approach fused with the best aspects of goth rock. Fernando Riberio's vocals sound much more convincing delivering this material than on the past two albums. The guitars seem to have a more anthemic, memorable twist to them, giving the songs considerably more hooks for the listener. The slower songs on the record tend to bog down a little and the cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" keep this album from being a total smash success, but who is going to quibble. Moonspell has done much to revitalize the ominous moon of Wolfheart mixed with the punch of Irreligious' best moments. It is very refreshing to see the band refocus on the elements that garnered interest in their music originally and capitalize on their strengths rather than plummet to their worst indulgences.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2001

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