Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Point-Counterpoint: Moonspell - Night Eternal


Too often in modern culture the term "gothic" brings to mind lame, pseudo-emo kids who are trying to be a bit more edgy.  There is nothing gothic about wearing black and white stripped leggings.  Keep trying.

Moonspell is a Portuguese band that delivers fantastic gothic metal.  And that is nowhere more evident than on their latest album, Night Eternal.  The album is a nonstop crushing blend of black metal sensibility with gothic metal overtones.  Orchestration and hauntingly beautiful keyboard layers (including ethereal choral tracks) add depth to the pummeling double bass onslaught.

Harsh vocals are juxtaposed with clean, deep baritones passages and occasional whispered lyrics.  Every track is dripping with a distinctly dark, gothic atmosphere.  "Shadow Sun" is the prime example, vacillating between slow, brooding verses and frenetic driving choruses.  Yet even in the frantic moments, the album retains its funereal mood.  Finally, the guest vocal work of Anneke van Giersbergen on "Scorpion Flower" is worth the price of admission alone.  If you aren't familiar with her uniquely angelic voice, go.  Listen.  Now.

Final Verdict: Adore it (but leave the black lipstick and nail polish at home, this isn't for poseurs)


I've never been much of a fan of gothic metal, and usually when a singer has a really noticeable accent, it turns me off to the music altogether.

And yet I've spent all day wrapping my head around this CD, and I'm surprised to say that I quite enjoy it.  Sure, the accent is a little distracting - especially in the spoken word opening.  And yes, the cover is goofy looking.  But the music is pretty awesome levels of brutal - just the right mix of heavy and calm.  It oozes sensation; it seethes like a perfect storm.  (And, as Peter mentioned, any reason to hear Anneke van Giersebergen is reason enough to give an album a try - her work with Devin Townsend, Arjen Lucassen and especially with her own bands The Gathering and Agua de Annique are all impeccable, and her voice sounds as splendid as ever here.)

The level of musicianship here is really quite astounding - and the production is clean, effective, and punchy.  The bass is plenty thumpy, the drum work is effective, the keyboards are wispy and unobtrusive, the guitars are fun and melodic.  This really is a pretty great album.

Final verdict: Explore it (while reading a moody, gothic book - but no vampires, please)

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