without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
It's been a few years since Moonspell's last album Night Eternal, that album was in my opinion one of their best, and showed them continuing the progress of Memorial, as they managed to mix gothic elements with a far more aggressive black metal sound then what they had done in their past. Both of those album ended up being some of their best, although I am a fan of all their material (even The Butterfly Effect) I liked the very organic and dark sound they had created. When I found out they had released a new album this year I bought it as soon as I could and was very excited to hear what they would come out with now. Moonspell's never been a band to stay in one place, constantly moving their sound around in different ways, though never sacrificing their underlying concepts.
First off it should be stated that this album is a double album, I'm not sure if that's only for the special edition I have or not, but I am going to review it as such, as without the second disc this album would make less sense. Why this is is simple, the first disc, titled Alpha Noir is made up of Moonspell's thrashiest work yet, with Fernando using his well done screams throughout, some elements of keyboards, and a lot of heavy guitar riffs mixing their by now trademark sound with thrashy and old school riffing. This is great, but it leaves out one essential from Moonspell's arsenal, being the deep and dark clean vocals of Fernando, which are only used here and there.
The second disc, Omega White is a complete left turn from the first album, being made up of their most melodic work since Darkness and Hope. The metal maniacs who were pleased by the first disc may not enjoy this one as much, but it is made up of dark melancholic moods and highly gothic sounding songs. So what Moonspell has done has been to separate the two sides of their sound on to two albums, both of which combined equals into around 80 minutes of material. I have to say that there is no bad song on here, each song is at least listenable, some are better then others of course.
For a bit more in depth coverage read on.
The first disc's sound is similar to their last album in regards to production. Guitars have a very good sound, with an equalization that features enough middle range to keep their sound heavy yet distinguishable. The riffing on tracks like "Axis Mundi" is very thrash influenced, mixed with the type of riffs we know from Moonspell. Same goes for a song like the title track, which also has some ideas similar to their last album, just minus the heavy keyboards.
This album goes very far away from the symphonic sound of their last two albums. Keyboards when used are only used for a bit of background ambience. Most of the album is made up of songs that sound like they spent time in their rehearsal room blasting away at them for a while. There is less black metal elements (which were possibly inspired by their re-recording of their early work on Under Satanae) meaning don't expect too many blast beats here.
The drums are recorded well, I get less of a triggered sense from them then from most modern metal. Mike Gaspar is the drummer here, and I believe he's been their drummer for a bit, though I haven't been keeping up with that. He does a good job, nothing too outstanding, although I am a sucker for the kind of intricate tom work he does here and there (not as much on earlier albums like The Antidote though).
The bass is given its sonic place is the mix, though it isn't as focused on as some of their earlier albums, it mainly works to fill in the sound as the guitars move across the fretboard.
Fernando's vocals on Alpha Noir are mostly his screams, and man what screams he's got. Fernando is up there as one of my favorite vocalists in metal, mainly because he's got a great clean voice and a great scream. Very full throated, he sounds like a raging beast out to kill. The lyrics he's belting out seem to focus on a continued apocalyptic concept as their last album. This time I get the sensation of aeonic change inherent in concepts like Crowley's Aeon of Horus, and a sense of rebellion against the morals and mores of the world as it stands today.
"Behold the bridegroom cometh, in the middle of the night, behold the rats who follow him, why do they want our destruction?... Behold the gloom bride coming, riding the tail of the star, beware the time of the kill."
"So many ways out there to thread and yet we choose to turn back, so many choices we could have made and yet we choose to kneel, thousands I wish to corrupt, their sons I seek to mislead, damned forever be your dreams, I reject my destiny."
So overall a very fine album, I wouldn't say it's my favorite of theirs, as I liked the last two a bit more due to their atmospheres. Regardless this album is very good and very worthy of the Moonspell name.
Now onto Omega White:
If Alpha Noir was the beginning and the day of destruction and revolution, Omega White is the after birth of death and the night time, when the mind looks back at the events done. There is a deep melancholy throughout, which is particularly reinforced by the presence of two songs dedicated to the memories of those passed on.
The production is similar to the last album, so not much needs to be said there. The songwriting is very different however. Rather then aggressive and thrash influenced songs, we find their most melodic set of songs yet. Every song is done with Fernando's baritone voice front and center. The guitars play a lot of melodic leads throughout, and keyboards have a bigger place here then before. In a way this set of songs reminds me a bit of Tiamat's work on albums like Prey, which in my book isn't a bad thing.
Out of the 8 songs on here, there are a few which strike me better then others, but there isn't anything I would skip over. "Herodisiac" is probably my favorite on here, featuring a clean guitar intro building with a cello over the top before going into the song proper which is very outright goth metal. The verses feature the cello again, which is a nice complement to Fernando's voice.
"And then the wine as if his blood, and then the cracks as if was cruelty, by her lips his words are swallowed, her tongue a blizzard, no reflection in the mirror, no resistance! The skin gave the lamb away, the stars are hiding in the shade, sweat running down the riverbed, tonight I sleep in the chamber of the queen."
I am using this song as an example, other songs like "White Omega", "New Tears Eve" and "Sacrificial" are also my favorites, but the whole album is listenable with nothing I'd skip.
The lyrics bring to mind not only melancholy, but elements that bring to my mind the book "The Red Goddess" by Peter Grey, about Babalon. Fernando's lyrics focus around love and desire and it's place within apocalypse, as well as loss and transformation. Or at least that's my understanding of them.
In the end I find this album to be appealing, particularly after the attack of the previous disc. Like I said it is the night side of the other album, and it strikes me that the songs are parallel to each other displaying similar aspects of the concept behind the record.
Before we sum up, the packaging must be mentioned. At least for the special edition, we are given a very nice hard package digibook with the lyrics attached in between the two discs, each album is given a section, and also different artwork on either side of the digibook. So you could potentially treat each side differently. The artwork is excellent, and fitting to the moods of each album, and serves to help the conception of the recording to speak for itself.
When I found out this was a double album, I was a little hesitant, as I was hoping that it wouldn't contain a lot of filler. Instead the whole idea of a double album here is used to contrast two sides of Moonspell's sound. This being said, I liked the way they integrated their sound on the last two albums, which felt more organically whole. On here each album is great, but without the other I don't think this album would have worked as well.
In the end the wait was worth it, Moonspell have released another excellent recording, which in 80 minutes does more than many bands have done in their careers. It is well worth the money of the Moonspell fan, although for someone new to Moonspell I might lead them to an earlier album as an introduction.
The only reason I haven't given this album a higher rating is I don't feel it's as great as their last two albums, despite that, this album is a worthy release.