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Intense and dramatic - 96%

Narrenschiff, December 8th, 2003

Hailed by many as their finest album, Moonspell's Irreligious is in fact a breathtaking experience from start to finish. Whilst their approach may be seen as pretentious by some, with the abounding gothic theatrics and atmosphere being the core of their sound, in my opinion everything falls perfectly into place. Maybe it's because I had the opportunity to see them live twice(I wasn't a fan before I saw them for the first time), and with it realized that their magic(or just plain pretentiousness, your call) can only be truly acknowledged in a live setting, but when it is, it blows you away. Go see them if you have the chance, it's definitely worth it. Now that I've disclosed my fanboyness, let's start the review already, shall we?

The album starts with the small keyboard atmospheric intro you could expect from Moonspell, "Perverse... Almost Religious". Impeccable introduction, sinister and haunting, no problems here. Right next comes Opium, arguably their best song. I must have listened to this like 200 times already and I get blown away every single time. Although relatively short, it is pure greatness all throughout. Awesome riffs, vocals and percussion, amazing rhythm, energy and a majestic Fernando Pessoa's quotation at the end. Mind blowing. In number three we have "Awake", with one of the best choruses Moonspell has created. Good atmosphere with a powerful and mournful feeling going on. Picking up where "Awake" left, comes the heavy "For A Taste Of Eternity", and then the melancholic "Ruin & Misery", your average Moonspell songs(still fuckin' great though ;)). "A Poisoned Gift" is probably the most theatrical song on Irreligious, very reminiscent of "Vampiria", from the previous album. Great emotional solo to be found here. "Subversion" and "Raven Claws" have a more eclectic approach, the former with electronic influences and the latter with female back vocals. If you think this lacks consistency, then you'll be happy to know "Raven Claws" is backed up by one more great guitar solo by Ricardo Amorim(can't go wrong with that) . Following is one of my favorite Moonspell songs ever, "Mephisto". The chorus on this track is superb and awe-inspiring, with one of Fernando Ribeiro's best performances to date. If there is one Moonspell song that benefits from being played live, it's this one. Before the grand finale, comes "Herr Spieglmann". Not much to say about this one chorus-driven song if you've read the other descriptions. The last track is the acclaimed "Full Moon Madness". As you could expect from this type of album, "Full Moon Madness" is the dramatic climax of the record. It commences with the sound of wolves howling in the background and a small guitar intro, which then builds into the phenomenal main guitar and keyboard riff which defines the song. The lyrics are partly in Portuguese, adding only to the strong sensation of wonder and mysticism already present. Pretty much everything here can be simply defined as PURE intensity. An unforgettable song, and the perfect closer to an equally unforgettable album...