Moonspell – Extinct

Moonspell Extinct

Despite heaps of plaudits and a sturdy career as metal stalwarts, Portuguese brooding metallers Moonspell have never quite achieved the huge acclaim and success (outside of their native country where they are a chart topping act) that they perhaps warrant. Certainly their latter day output surely has some mainstream appeal and accessibility, especially considering the worship that some Gothic metal bands (HIM being the prime example) have garnered. If any album of theirs should see them herald a wider audience then Extinct (Napalm) could well be that moment.

Certainly their most instant album to date, Extinct showcases the band’s finest elements to the full. Dark and melancholic in tone and subject matter but the hooks have an almost pop vibe to them, with some remnants of the pace and ferociousness of their black metal days, such as on album opener ‘Breathe (Until We Are No More)’, an anthem and potential rock club floor filler in the making. Fernando Ribeiro’s vocal displays are as luring and diverse as ever, veering from a seductive croon to a visceral bark with ease and fluidity.

The real ace in the hole is the Pedro Paixao’s atmospheric samples and piercing synths; adding a whole new dimension and tone to proceedings; exceptionally so on the likes of the title track where they steal the limelight with ease. There are even the faintest hints of a prog influence, shown on the eerie, piano led close ‘La Baphomette’.

Always a familiar name to some, especially those in the know, but now one that has all the qualities that scream out mainstream success, Moonspell should begin to hit the big time with Extinct if there is any justice. Bleak and full of despair yet anthemic and catchy as hell, with plentiful layering and nuances to find; a stunning work.

9.0/10

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CHRIS TIPPELL

Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken

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How Swedes Evergrey are not recognized more by metal’s mainstream media is criminal. Hailing from the city of Gothenburg which has arguably contributed the biggest impact to modern metal than any other geographical location, Evergrey are masters of the contemporary melodic nature of their local peers. Combine this with the pipes of one Tom Englund who eschews the typical growl approach for truly powerful sung vocals pouring with feeling and humanity, and you have a band surely tailor made for widespread appraisal.

New album Hymns For The Broken (AFM) doesn’t deviate from this formula but seems to see the band kicking their song writing into an even higher gear. The opening barrage of ‘King Of Errors’ and ‘A New Dawn’ see the band at their most anthemic, being heavy yet melodious and instantly memorable. Alongside this ilk are the tender, softer moments from the likes of ‘Wake A Change’ and the tear-inducing closing ballad ‘The Aftermath’.

Englund proves the real the star of the event with a phenomenal vocal performance not just in technique but in the genuine sincerity and emotion behind the voice. Lyrically, Evergrey have always touched upon dark subjects and depression is not a new theme for them but not from such a personal place as here. Full of anguish throughout, the album offers a vibe of being pained but with undertones of hope and inspiration; of possible escape from the torment expressed.

Very few bands can convey such deep emotional grief that is commonplace to so many in such a touching and convincing manner as Evergrey have achieved yet again on Hymns For The Broken. Combined with possibly the band’s strongest songs to date, and you have an album that is screaming to be heard in arenas across the globe.

9.0/10

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CHRIS TIPPELL