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.