One of the most unpredictable and chameleon-like Metal bands of all times is back with a new album, titled “Memorial”: MOONSPELL. Ever since their beginnings with the “Under The Moonspell” EP and the legendary “Wolfheart” album the Portuguese have continuously evolved their music, be it more into Gothic Metal or rather influenced by electronics or as on the previous album “The Antidote” back towards a heavier sound, so what would the quartet around charismatic fronter Fernando Ribeiro have on offer in the year 2006?
Well, they live up to their reputation and once more surprise the fans with an at least partly unexpected twist and turn, because after the intense intro “In Memoriam” the real opener “Finisterra” reveals a lot of power, with blastbeats and quite gritty Black/Death vocals, which will surely surprise more than one listener. Still the band manages to keep this inimitable MOONSPELL vibe evident, which sounds even better, when they switch to double-bass.
Compared to the previous album “Memorial“ sounds somewhat heavier and here and there with a stronger Death Metal list, which I had to get used to at first, as it pushes in front of the atmosphere, which always had been such an integral part of MOONSPELL, so it might take a bit longer to get used to the “new” sound, yet there are many tracks that will reveal right away what a quality band we have here.
“Blood Tells” also is very intense and powerful, while the keyboards emanate a certain dramatic mood, which makes the song appear almost sinister and in other places symphonic, which through interaction builds up a very interesting atmosphere, while “Upon The Blood Of Man” sets out with a choir and then balances out a very heavy verse with a very catchy chorus. After the great “Sanguine” revives the MOONSPELL of old, the Lusitanians throw a very hard to describe slab at us in form of “Proliferation”, which reminds me of Slovenian LAIBACH at the beginning, with some sort of orchestral element, before drums and female vocalization are added, very untypical for this band! “Once It Was Ours!” lives off its very memorable keyboard melody line, in a song that combines the older and newer MOONSPELL, before the last song “Best Forgotten“ shows an a lot stronger Gothic feeling to round things off.
So you can see that “Memorial” shows many different facets and definitely does not ignite upon first listen, but needs more time and attention to fully unfold all its intricacies. They do not reach the old masterpieces “Wolfheart” and “Irreligious” and so far the album also does not fully reach “The Antidote” (even though this might change with time), yet it still definitely is another strong chapter in the history of MOONSPELL! (Online July 31, 2006)