Ten days into this mammoth undertaken and I’m officially one third of the way through now. Or, another way to look at it is I’ve come to the end of the 50% extra free this year! Extending this series from 20 to 30 seemed like a good idea at the time but as my nights are now passing in a blur of feverish writing, I’m beginning to question myself just a little. But then, if I didn’t love doing this, I’d not have started, so who am I kidding eh?!
A reminder for anyone new to this series that you can access each of the preceding posts via the links at the bottom. There’s also an opportunity to catch up on the full lists from 2012-2014 should that be of interest to you.
But now, on with the show…
I first discovered Moonspell as a teenager around the time when 1996’s ‘Irreligious’ was released. I knew nothing about the Portuguese band but I took a punt whilst standing wild-eyed in one of the large central London record stores. Coming from a sleepy town like Ipswich, I wasn’t used to a specific metal section, let alone one that was nearly the same size as the entire store back home. I remember loving the album almost from the very beginning and it has held a place in my heart ever since. In fact, I’d state without hesitation that ‘Irreligious’ is my favourite album by Moonspell. Until now that is because ‘Extinct’ pushes it mighty close.
The past few albums have seen Moonspell experiment with more a aggressive and extreme sound with, to my mind, differing levels of success. However, coming from an ‘Irreligious’ background, it is with sheer delight and an abundance of newfound enthusiasm that I can say that ‘Extinct’ has reverted to more of a mid-90’s approach. By that, I mean that the album returns to what I personally believe are the key Moonspell strengths: creating music with plenty of groove, an overt Gothic atmosphere and lots of melody. This album has all three and plenty of each.
If I’m being honest and genuinely not falling foul of unwanted gushing hyperbole, ‘Extinct’ features a collection of compositions that border on anthems, such is their strength, power and immediacy. Whilst it was love at first liten to this record, I was also worried about the fact that it may be lacking in the longevity stakes. However, listening as I type this review, I needn’t have been concerned. The songs sound as vibrant and enjoyable now as they did on the first spin, much to my delight. ‘Extinct’ brings all the tunes.
Opener ‘Breathe (Until We Are No More)’ is an enormous statement of intent. It is heavy, has a great chorus and benefits from some really sumptuous, some might say over-the-top symphonics. Whether or not it is intentional, the focal point of Moonspell is their talismanic vocalist Fernando Ribeiro – with a deep melodic croon such as his, how could he not be the focal point? And on this record, Ribeiro is on top form, barking, snarling and crooning all over the track with his exotically-accented smooth, deep voice.
Elsewhere, ‘Medusalem’ calls to mind Orphaned Land thanks to traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation and melodies. It’d stick my neck on the line and suggest it’s the best track on the album too, thanks to a scintillating and addictive chorus. ‘The Last Of Us’ is a more up-tempo no-nonsense Gothic track that strangely calls to mind something that The 69 Eyes might have penned had they been of a slightly heavier persuasion ‘Funeral Bloom’ includes a few The Cure-esque Goth-pop influences whilst ‘The Future Is Dark’ which has yet another superbly catchy chorus and an irresistible lead guitar solo to truly rival ‘Full Moon Madness’, my very favourite Moonspell track of all-time.
I could go on, but I won’t. Instead I’ll end by concluding that ‘Extinct’ really is a monster of a Gothic metal album that showcases Moonspell at their beguiling best.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30
And from previous years: