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If you are looking for a return to the folk-metal days of “Wolfheart” or “Under the Moonspell,” then you will sorely be disappointed. There are no instrumentals on this album, no real folk interludes, and no ambient noise sections either. That being said, one of the best things I can say about this album is that it is very much a “Moonspell” album. It takes all the ingredients that make their music so compelling and holds nothing back. All of their gothic touches, dark atmosphere, varied vocals, and brilliant guitar work really come together on this album.
While this album is very much in the same vein as their previous work “Memorial,” it is also a different beast entirely. At times, this almost borders on straight death metal and even black metal. While the previous album was also very dark and heavy, this one seems much more “in your face” with full on head-bangable riffs. The guitars are much more up front and crunchy, the solos are very smooth and melodic (some of Ricardo’s best work yet) and the drums are absolutely furious, especially the double-bass. The production is also very clear and makes for a very powerful listening experience.
This is also easily Fernando’s best singing since “Darkness and Hope.” Whereas on the previous albums his baritone was a bit subdued and more of a whisper used for atmospheric affect, here is clearly singing again. Some songs even feature a dual-layered vocal approach which is new, but highly intoxicating. His growled vocals are also at least as powerful as they were on the previous album. Also, the duet on the song “Scorpion Flower” with Anneke is outstanding, even if her vocals are placed a bit too far in the background.
Having listened to the album a few times now, it is hard to pick out favorite tracks. Not one moment seems wasted, and all nine songs feel like they have something important to say. Suffice it to say, if you don’t like Moonspell, this album won’t change your mind. However, if you are a fan of the bands work, this album will likely blow you away. I can only imagine how this set of songs will do live. As the title suggests, this is indeed Moonspell’s finest hour.