Release Date: April 27, 2012
The long wait for a new Moonspell album is finally over! Alpha Noir, the first release since 2008’s Night Eternal and also the band’s first release since they signed with Napalm Records, is set to be released next week. Frontman Fernando Ribeiro had this to say about signing on with Napalm Records:
“Signing with Napalm is a firm step into cutting all bullshit and work with people who truly believe in us and respect our longevity, while helping us to embrace those who have been arriving in the last years to start with us yet another kingdom of darkness under the moon. Our new album is a statement. Our blood is the ink. Your skin, the scrolls upon we will write. Napalm Records, our messenger. Be ready.”
Moonspell, a Portuguese, gothic metal band with black, death and doom metal influences, have been around since the mid-90s. Alpha Noir will be their ninth studio album . They have also released two EPs. Alpha Noir is set to be released in a special edition set that includes Omega White, a second CD with eight tracks that has been described as homage to Type O Negative and Sisters of Mercy. Both CDs were produced and mixed by Tue Madsen. This review will only focus on Alpha Noir, however.
The album kicks off with “Axis Mundi”, and what a way to begin the brutality. While it starts out instrumentally slow, the tempo quickly rises and Ribeiro’s eerie, demonic growls muckily reach out and envelope you. Ribeiro, who, although his vocals never quite rivaled those of Peter Steele, has always had a similar deep, vampyric style to that of the late Type O Negative frontman. “Axis Mundi” is a dark, heavy mix of gothic and thrash metal at its finest. A perfect opener and one of the standout tracks on the album.
Fans of Moonspell will find it as no surprise that the second track on the album, “Lickanthrope,” references werewolves. Another dark, thrashy track, this is the first single release from this album and also the first video. The band had announced in early February they were working on a video for “Lickanthrope” and it was just released last week. This is what they had to say about the video:
“Lickanthrope will be the first video clip to come out of the Alpha Noir album. It will be directed by Filipe Melo, who worked with the band on the ‘I will See You In My Dreams’ videoclip, recorded ten years ago. The shooting will be made in Nandufe, Tondela, in the central region of Portugal.”
We got this synopsis from Director Filipe Melo:
“Little red riding hood enters a bar, in an abandoned house amidst the woods. In this bar, the regulars are not your average kind of people – it’s a place of vice, where a pack of wolves and other unearthly creatures find solace. Moonspell are just another part of the varied local entertainment. However when things go wild we will see that the band isn’t just what meets the eye.
“In a cross between the pagan Portuguese folklore and a tribute to the classic Hammer movies this video clip will bring out not only the ferocious intensity of this song but will have its place in Portuguese Film history as the first werewolf transformation ever made in Portugal.
“The video clip features also several local Theatre and cultural groups, Portuguese actors and a special appearance by the very own Suicide Girls Portugal, in a task force which will blow your mind.”
“Lickanthrope” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, complete with wolves, as well as Ribeiro, howling at times. The chorus is dark and woeful as it tells of night swallowing the day. This is another of the standout tracks.
“Versus” keeps the frenetic pace although it’s not as dark as the first two tracks. It’s still a heavy piece of work that keeps the metal flowing in the right direction.
“Alpha Noir” is a head-caving brutal terror. They really let loose on this one. Possibly the heaviest track on the album, it still maintains a haunting effect throughout. Towards the middle of the song it slows for a minute while Ribeiro delivers a deep, bass vocal performance reminiscent of Peter Steele before returning to the frenetic pace.
“En Nome Do Medo” means “In the Name of Fear”. The song is performed in Portuguese. It’s a very crushing and pleasing track with plenty of melodic guitar including a badass solo from Ricardo Amorim and, of course, the hellish, growling vocals of Ribeiro.
“Opera Carne” is another track with a great abundance of melody and features some of the harshest vocals on the album.
“Love is Blasphemy” is a skull-crushing typhoon of thrash thrown at you in wave after wave of raw brutality. The badass riffage and pounding drums from Miguel Gaspar make this another standout track.
“Grandstand” is an intense, yet doomy track that features some of the best lyrics and vocals, making it one of my favorite tracks on this album. The emotion in Ribeiro’s vocals is strong, you can FEEL this song more than you will hear it.
The album closer is an instrumental piece of beauty and horror; eerie and haunting yet ethereal and even heavy at times. “Sine Missione” (translated as a gladiatorial fight to the death) seems almost theatrical as it puts the final touch of elegance on an intense album with such magnitude. I’m not going to tell you this is Moonspell’s best album ever but this is definitely one of their finest releases, a complete work of metal madness that will punish you from beginning to end. I know it’s early but this is already one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. Beware the Lickanthrope!
01. Axis Mundi
04. Alpha Noir
05. En Nome Do Medo
06. Opera Carne
07. Love is Blasphemy
08. Grand Stand
09. Sine Missione