I do not really know anymore what had made me listen to "Wolfheart" back in 1995. Suddenly I stood on the CD-player and MOONSPELL's full-length-debut rotated. I can still very well remember that I had been both fascinated and insecure. Insecure, if I may like something like this, had I not had any contact with Black Metal of any kind before. I think that I had been to that shop for three weeks, every time listening to this CD until finally buying it and today it is an absolute classic for me!
The opener "Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)" shows from the very beginning that the Portuguese sextet was just different from most other Black Metal-bands, quite measured tempo, very varied vocals of Langsuyar (the "Tenebrarum Rex" of "Under The Moonspell" already had been scrapped), from Death Metal over Black Metal to his very characteristic and original deep, theatrical vocals, furthermore melodies that are lent from folklore here and there, everything very dynamically forged together, heavy, but dark and melodic, a great start for a ground-breaking album...
The following "Love Crimes" hits off with its memorable riff, then to vary between atmosphere and quite powerful double-bass (yet still measured tempo), the keyboards, although partly melody-leading, never appear too much to the foreground or penetrating. Also vocally we can enjoy the contrast between the clean and deathy vocals, always depending on how the mood of the passage has to be expressed, the phrasing alone fits the sonic expression perfect, the (as in many of the other songs) very rhythmic, almost percussive drums add their part as well! "...Of Dream And Drama (Midnight Ride)" offers us a partly more Gothic, partly more rocking atmosphere, embedded into the original MOONSPELL-sound, which might read a little strange now, but still is the best possible description for this song.
What follows next has been one of the main reasons, why I eventually bought "Wolfheart", the instrumental "Lua d'Inverno" and "Trebraruna". The first one completely consists of acoustic guitars and a flute, very folkloristic and very dark, while "Trebraruna" is purest Lusitan Folk Metal. Sung in their native tongue, with a gripping melody and enchanting atmosphere, world class to my ears!
"Vampiria" lyrically deals with, surprise, vampirism and convinces with its very intense and Gothic atmosphere, supported by Birgit Zacher's fragile voice, before switching into MOONSPELL-ish Black Metal, a lot heavier than the calm beginning, borne by the interplay of the atmospheric keyboards and the heavy guitars, forged into a very own atmosphere. On "An Erotic Alchemy" they cite de Sade and show their less heavy, more atmospheric side. Completely sung in a clean voice again the middle part with its rhythmic drums forms an element that you could very well attach to MOONSPELL at this time. Very dramatic, very good!
And the rear is made up by a song that until today is one of the absolute classics, maybe THE MOONSPELL-song in a word: "Alma Mater". An almost hypnotic riff is accompanying the listener throughout the whole song, with Portuguese bridge and chorus, very atmospheric, with varied vocals, a masterpiece on its own and an absolutely crowning end to a masterful album!
With "Wolfheart" MOONSPELL have not only catapulted Portugal onto the Metal-map, but also themselves to the top of their genre, not least because of their courage to find and brilliantly execute their very own sound, which is at the same time very catchy, but never commercially cottoning up.