Moonspell - 1755 - (9/10)

Published on December 19, 2017

Tracklist:

  1. En Nome do Medo
  2. 1755
  3. In Tremor Dei
  4. Desastre
  5. Abanão
  6. Evento
  7. 1 de Novembro
  8. Ruinas
  9. Todos os Santos
  10. Lanterna dos Afogados (Os Paralamas do Sucesso cover)

Genre:

Symphonic Black

Label:

Napalm Records

Playing Time:

47:42

Country:

Portugal

Year:

2017

Website:

Visit page

Symphonia inferna
 

Portugal’s Moonspell remain as reliable as they are unpredictable by mostly staying Moonspell whatever they do, yet always being a candidate for springing a surprise or two on their fans. They proved it when they came completely out of left field with The Butterfly Effect before slowly returning to a more “traditional” sound, but while their experimental side was somewhat dormant in the years to come, one pretty much expected that something more was to come, just not when. 1755 is without a doubt their most ambitious album to date, in several ways. For one it is their first concept album, detailing the happenings of the great earthquake hitting Lisbon and area in that year, for two it is the first album completely in Portuguese and for three it features the biggest symphonic element they ever attempted.

As said, Moonspell fans, at least those that have been around for longer, know that not everything is immediately accessible, but 1755 definitely does take some getting used to, since some of the song structures eschew the band’s usual territory (the best example is opener “Em Nome do Medo”), but throwing the faithful off just enough to get their attention doesn’t have to be something bad, right? There is no rhythm in the traditional sense, but it is used more percussive, while the orchestral side is pushed to the fore and Ribeiro’s growls are a nice juxtaposition. The chorus cranks the orchestration to the max together with choir and the growls on the plus side and a very dissonant orchestra passage that does not fit whatsoever swings to the other end of the spectrum, all in all definitely an interesting opener.

These latent progressive leanings might throw some of these faithful off more than anticipated, but this is not a purely experimental album for the Lusitans. Like the title track, which strikes a balance between demanding and accessible, with the choir countering the growls and the surprising inclusion of the Middle Eastern melodies that had helped Moonspell reach so high. But there still is enough fodder for the traditionalists, such as the outstanding “Desastre”, “Abanao” or “Todos os Santos”. “Desastre” is the first song to really transport the listener back to earlier times with a well-integrated straighter, far more urgent passage, while “Abanão” right after combines the best of all Moonspell worlds, straighter, atmospheric, energetic and dynamic, with Ribeiro’s growls sounding absolutely menacing in the chorus, an absolute highlight of the album.

 

 

What also is striking is the almost complete absence of Fernando Ribeiro’s clear voice, which always had been such a characteristic element in the band’s sound and it does hurt the overall impressions, the extended use of choirs, though, is a definitive plus, yet one can’t help but feel like they could have gotten even more out of this album, which is being dubbed their “magnum opus”.

 

Moonspell’s element of surprise hat been latently there throughout their career and with 1755 sees a major resurgence. It might throw fans of the last few albums off a bit more than usual, though, because quite a few of the songs are far less immediately accessible, but that does (or rather should) not detract from 1755 being a very interesting album that ensures Moonspell do not tread creative water and are not afraid to take some risks, it might just take a bit longer to open up.

Alex Melzer

Author: Alex Melzer

The grey eminence behind TMO. Head of the Brotherhood. Conqueror of Cancer

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