When I was first introduced to MOONSPELL’s debut “Wolfheart”, I had a hard time agreeing with those heralding its greatness. Due to the band’s combination of styles and influences such as Folk, Death and Gothic Metal, the album failed to attain a certain level direction and continuity. While I know it is unrealistic to imagine a band having a perfected sound on their first release, I just wasn’t interested and didn’t bother checking out any of MOONSPELL’s other albums. Therefore, when I received a copy of their latest release “The Antidote”, my prior opinions resonated in my mind as I wearily decided to re-acquaint myself with this Portuguese Gothic Metal quartet.
After listening to this album repeatedly, I can say with complete and total honesty that I was wrong to have dismissed MOONSPELL, as this release has completely disproved all of my prior notions regarding this band. Unlike “Wolfheart”, which saw the band struggling to find a balance between their atmospheric, Gothic and Death Metal sides, “The Antidote” successfully incorporates each of these elements into a beautifully flowing piece of work that captivates you from start to finish. MOONSPELL are in a league of their own, which is something that few bands successfully aspire to. Whether it’s the hypnotizing, tribal drums of “From Lowering Skies” and “The Southern Deathstyle”, the eerily soothing atmosphere of “Lunar Still” and the title track, or the unsettling yet engaging nature of “Everything Invaded”, this album will capture you. While the above mentioned qualities of “The Antidote” should easily earn this band a new legion of followers, it is this release’s subtleties that will keep you coming back for more. MOONSPELL have succeeded in perfectly incorporating all of the facets of their sound into a seamless and working whole and for this I garner nothing but praise.
With a corresponding novel of the same name as this album’s framework (written by fellow countryman Jose Peixoto), one would be a fool to question this ensemble’s ambition. After having the pleasure of seeing MOONSPELL live in Toronto, I can also assert with full confidence that this band is more than capable in a live setting. Now that I’ve fallen under this album’s spell, I feel compelled to go back and explore the rest of MOONSPELL’s releases. For those unable to detect direct and unabashed praise, I say to you this: experience “The Antidote” if you are seeking a challenging yet fulfilling collection of songs. MOONSPELL have succeeded in standing out from the rest and for this they are more than deserving of your attention. (Online March 29, 2004)