The shadows part again and reveal a glimpse to the other side of mirrored realms, or perhaps the reflection of horrors we see is actually the truth? Portugal’s Moonspell have proven through their career they are one of the most ambitious bands metal has EVER produced and their newest Extinct continues this. It’s deep reunion with their gothic tendencies but still full of anthemic black clouds of brooding riffs (such as the title track “Extinct”).
“Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve reached the top of the chain”. Opening cut “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” captures the striving yet destructive poles humankind’s pendulum swings between , set to a knife-edged hard rock soundtrack with symphonic gusto.
On this album, Guitarists Ricardo and Pedro deftly set up cunning and exciting momentum for poetic vocalist Fernando’s moody, low croon or the times he lets go and unleashes one of the heaviest and blackest screams in heavy metal. The keys, strings and as always the excellent drumming of Mike Gaspar really make this a very even listeing experience you can enjoy the whole way through. “Medusalem” is one of their more brilliant songs in years, really triumphant and practically sending imagery and pathos leaping from the speakers, especially during the otherworldly almost Moroccan sounding solo section, which is hard to even describe.
This is not their heaviest album by any means. Fans looking for those should check out Night Eternal or Memorial, which will rip your faces off though also contain more mist shrouded numbers as well. Extinct however is a very potent and somewhat different brew. “Funeral Bloom” is one of the best songs they’ve ever written, a big rock statement that floats way above genre limits to feel like they just made some death rock song to rival U2 for stadium grandeur (I wish).
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The record really succeeds in showing how much research Fernando did while wrestling with the ideas of human frailty yet ability to cause so much havoc on the world. The theme of extinction and awareness is very present but more a physical thing than heavy handed sermons. “Domina” is a lush song that will add atmosphere to any (already non-atmosphere starved, haha) Moonspell set. I’ve frankly never been let down by them. Any time you put on a Moonspel cd you will find much to contemplate, rage to or be swept away by. Ricardo in particular on this album really does an amazing job on lead guitars with numerous tasteful accents and deep texture you can feel that makes the tunes have extra bite. “The Last Of Us” sounds as vampiric as theyve ever been though it is almost uplifting, a beautiful song. And “La Baphomette” the album’s closer feels like the band having fun with carnival music until you realize they are really pulling things off and it’s ending the album on an almost shoulder shrugging farewell to our world and way of life, piano keys clinking in farewell.