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What the hell is going on here? - 80%

kluseba, July 12th, 2015

"The Butterfly Effect" is a logical consequence of Moonspell's previous records that went from a black metal infused style with folk and gothic elements on "Wolfheart" towards a mellower and more accessible gothic metal sound on "Irreligious" and "Sin / Pecado". This release can be categorized as a gothic album. It features occasional gothic metal but especially gothic rock elements and includes stylistically related elements from industrial rock over noise, doom metal and classical music to darkwave sounds. This broad mixture is garnished with a few experimental sound samples, a gloomy and weird atmosphere and a cold and mechanical production. Most of the songs are short mid-tempo tracks that sound to the point. There is an atmospheric connection between the different pieces that adds to the flow and soul of the release. The different tracks sound intriguing on their own but also work well together and give the album the feeling of an experimental conceptual record. All these elements make this record the most controversial release of the band. Some fans still see it as the black sheep in the extensive discography of the Portuguese gothic metal pioneers while others hail it as the band's most courageous and gripping output.

In a certain way, both camps are absolutely right. "The Butterfly Effect" is sometimes hard to digest and maybe too experimental for its own good while the songs on their own break with the band's original roots and head for a more experimental approach that should please the gothics but definitely not the metal heads among their fans. On the other side, this unique album is the radical climax of a progressive genre change and everything but boring from an objective point of view.

There are several great tracks on this album. The mixture of calm sounds inspired by lounge music and louder parts inspired by symphonic gothic rock in "Can't Bee" is quite representative for this album and works best in this song. "Lustmord" is probably the record's heaviest track but still respects the overall numbing atmosphere of the album and even adds some refreshing tribal drums to the genre potpourri. The eerie, mechanical yet somehwat catchy "I Am the Eternal Spectator" is the best among the more diversified tunes in my opinion since the track is atmospheric, danceable and experimental at the same time. Among the more dragging tracks, I must point out "Tired" that has an apocalyptic, epic and almost space-related atmosphere with decent keyboard sounds, majetsic string samples inspired by Mozart and whispered spoken vocal effects. This song doesn't sound like anything else and is my secret favourite tune of this release.

The cherry on top of the cake is the weird album closer "K (O Mal de Cristo)", an experimental and radically uneasy mixture of lounge sounds and atmospheric noise sections that is by far the longest track the band has ever written. I'm not entirely sure whether this experimental anti-song is a revolutionary masterpiece or just an endless and senseless instrumental drug trip. It reminds me of the underestimated Krautrock genre. Imagine a disturbing mixture of Amon Düül and Merzbow and you might have an idea of what to expect. Those who claim that Moonspell simply sold out with this album are proven wrong with this track alone.

As a long-time Moonspell fan, there are also some characteristic elements of the band that I'm missing here. There is not one single liberating and powerful up-tempo track. There is no positive or warm song on the enitire release either. The folk influences that can be found on most releases are completely absent on this record. The limited musicianship, the almost constantly low vocals and the clinical production give this album a very own identity but also limit the efficiency of this release. That being said, the middle section of the album feels somewhat numb and repetitive and songs such as "Soulitary Vice", "Disappear Here" and "Adaptables" fail to leave a deeper impression. The band should have cut this record and several songs down to ten consistent tracks with a total running time around forty minutes to create a more impressive output.

In the end, imagine a shorter and even more experimental version of Type 0 Negative and you get a quite good idea of what to expect from this output. Experimental minds and non-conformist gothics should appreciate this release while traditional metal heads and consumers rooted in the soil should avoid this output. I think it's fair to say that this is an experimental release that develops a great charm for special moments but nothing one could constantly appreciate. Expect the unexpected. Since I have a weakness for extraordinary music, this album holds a very special place in my collection and I often tend to revisit this weird record.

Darkwave Lounge Black Metal, for real! - 97%

Kritik, November 9th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Century Media Records

Moonspell has created music for quite some time already and has changed with each new album. The Portuguese became slower and slower as time went by. This full length goes two steps back to their roots from “Wolfheart” and two steps forward into uncharted territory at the same time.

The band starts it all with a song that defines quite well what will follow for the rest of this release. Some whispered passages followed by true Darkwave sounds come directly to your ear. The menacing atmosphere is then smoothly replaced by clean vocals that still harmonize with the dark gothic background. Once we’re lulled into false security, an unexpected black metal chorus erupts. We are only two minutes into the album and as you can see, Moonspell really takes us on an emotional and musical roller coaster ride for this release.

The new lounge sounds of the album hit us many times over the course of this disc. Sometimes, they come along with black metal passages and sometimes, they arrive with a good measure of keyboard solos accompanied by awesome drum parts to only add to an already stunning experience.

All this overwhelming variety would normally mess up an album if it wasn't done by a genius, but Moonspell has found a way to make it sound completely coherent and has infused a very good flow into the album. The eerie and menacing atmosphere is the clear guiding line and present from the very first until the very last sounds. The sick lyrics, the diversified instrumental passages and the omnipresent sound effects are essential parts of both the creativity and the coherent flow of the record.

The production varies a lot but always manages to put the right effect in the foreground while maintaining a balance that can shift at any given time. The drums are always present to the exact degree where it adds to the songs and not only accompanies the music. The bass has its moments but is mostly there for the atmosphere than any other reason. There is obviously some guitar presence but it’s not the dominating instrument and mostly absent for a good reason. A melodic guitar or even a moody guitar play wouldn’t give the same atmospheric result as what we hear in here.

The two last songs of the album are ultimate masterpieces if you take them for what they are. The first one is probably easier to accept by the majority for the fact that it's mostly an epic black metal song while keeping the darkwave and gothic atmosphere present until then. There is an excellent use of keyboards leading to a climax that is completely memorable. If this wasn't already enough, the song even contains a sample of Mozart's “Requiem" and it perfectly fits and sounds as if it had always been written for nothing else but this song.

The last song on the other hand is surely why this album has been hated. After the climax of the preceding song, one just doesn't see coming a three minute long lounge break. The song gets even more experimental, more unpredictable and weirder after a silence of about two more minutes. This last song is maybe a masterpiece of a style that never gets any attention in the metal world. It's a Krautrock song. For those of you that don't know about it, it's a style coming directly from Germany that is even more psychedelic than what Pink Floyd and the likes are. This is a style that is supposed to be disturbing and don't tell me this last song doesn't disturb you.

In conclusion, what we got here is a strange mix where every piece fits the most complex puzzle this band has ever come up with. It's even a tad too complex for the majority of people that won't accept to listen to such abnormal ideas. What actually makes this album a must have for those having the patience to let all of this work on them. Each and every song on here is quite memorable for different reasons. By infusing Krautrock and lounge elements to the sound, we are even treated with exotic and outstanding genres that we rarely see in the metal universe. For all these reasons, this album is the creative opus magnum of Moonspell.

Moonspell really sold themselves out with this - 20%

Lane, April 8th, 2012

You know, it was predictable what Moonspell did after the magnificent, earthly debut album 'Wolfheart' (1995). All the signs were in the air, especially following more poppy 'Sin / Pecado' (1997). Sometimes, bands are just way too adventurous for their own good! What is it with this "let's not stagnate" shite, tell me please?!

'Sin / Pecado' is nothing poppy when compared to the band's fourth album, 'The Butterfly Effect'. Gone are all the folky elements, and also metal for a big part, I'm afraid. Moonspell decided to lift this bloody Depeche Mode via Marilyn Manson shit to the front. Guitar work is simple power riffing at its heaviest, but isn't actually heavy and for nobody's surprise, those riffs are played after a calmer parts. The electronics have stolen a lot of space from the guitars, but it's the synth work that creates those few melodies heard on the album, since the guitars are played to create textures or aforementioned power riffs. The band tried to be industrial, but fell on their faces. On the other edge of musical spectrum, it is somekind of very soft rock. When someone like Butthole Surfers do this kind of stuff, it might be funny, but when Moonspell do it, I'm ripping my hair. Generally, the music is very bland, no matter what styles it goes through during its almost 58 minutes.

'Can't Bee', what a joyful word-play! "All the spineless people will walk again, will agitate and ejaculate". Decadent and naughty lyrics, I guess, but all the same uninteresting. William S. Burroughs is one important influence and Bret Easton Ellis is also mentioned. When Fernando Ribeiro articulates his words, he does it through not bad growling to very soft singing. He just isn't a very good singer and his pronunciation isn't good, either. The drums sound programmed (soundwise I mean, they are clearly played by Mike Gaspar, well most of them anyway), which is the pinnacle of the truth that the band wanted this album to sound electronic. Only a couple of calm songs sound more earthly, namely 'Can't Bee' and 'Disappear Here'.

This adventurous expedition did not work out for Moonspell. The band tried to be oh-so-dark, but manages to be boring, unintelligent and grey in the bad sense of the word, and I don't find any soul in here. For me, the band fucked up really bad with this album. And do not come telling me I don't get it, please, because I get it too well (I do own electro pop albums and whatnot, which I do enjoy listening to). I simply cannot get into this music at all. A huge disappointment, after a smaller one.

(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2006)

Not good enough - 50%

Yoacs, December 6th, 2006

The first thing I want to say is that I don’t like to give bad critics to an album or band. I understand the effort that, in this case Moonspell did to compose and release this album, but still it seems was not enough. I think about previous albums, all of them different, all of them icons of their own stile. Even the Daemonarch album, Hermeticum, sounds more authentic. The Butterfly Effect is not what I expected at all!

The first track, Soulsick, is a very promising opening, very strong, where Fernando shows his quality as a gothic and death metal singer, the guitars are really heavy, and the keyboards are ok. Then the rest of the album is weak, not soft, is in did the heaviest album of the band since Under the Moonspell, but weak in content.

Lets start from the beginning, the sound of the album is really brutal and modern, and that is one of the problems here. What I mean is that the sound is very good, but for rage full songs, not for melodic tracks like Can’t Be or Disappear Here. I said before that the album sounds modern, and that was the intention, to make a modern album, and they failed there, Moonspell is good creating soundscapes, mixing many kinds of metal, like black, death, folk and gothic with that thing that only Moonspell has, that what makes them unique. But here it seems they were trying to be other band, just a regular one.

The songs are in general empty, like the one that names the album, it seem taken from a Marilyn Mansons album, then we have Lustmord, Selfabuse and I am the eternal spectator, all of them so noisy and unmeticulous that is unbelievable that are Moonspell songs. Of course not everything is so bad, Soulsick, as I said is a very good track, and also are Adaptables and the remarkable Angelizer, which stands as the best song of the album, very complete in all aspects. Anyway, a Moonspell album should have more than three or four good songs, so, in this case, and just this case, I have to say that they did not enough.

About the lyrics, I think Fernando Ribeiro is a true poet, I love his lyrics, but in this album he is unknown. Words sound plastic and emotionless, there’s a big difference between the lyrics from Irreligious or Wolfsheart, they were strong, poetic and meaningful, by the contrary, these are just words together, without poetry, without meaning

As I said, I don’t like to give bad scores, but I hate to say that this album is a big disappointing, specially coming from one of the best bands ever.

A Near-Perfect Alternative - 95%

adaptablenick, April 30th, 2004

Before I start the review proper, I should point out that I've had this album for years and it was my introduction to Moonspell who went on to become one of my favourite bands so I'm obviously rather biased, but then everyone is. When this album was released, it must have been a bit of a shock for existing fans as it's quite a departure from the previous albums. Moonspell is one of those bands that seems to embrace change and experimantation, with each album being noticeably different from the last, much in the same way as for example Metallica have done, and The Butterfly Effect could be seen as their equivalent of Load! People either love it or hate it and a lot of people must have screamed 'sell-out' and not given it a chance... Which is a shame because personally I think this is their most complex and cohesive album.

Obviously a lot was lost in the change of style. A lot of the theatrical overly-gothic style of the previous albums has been stripped away and in particular the lead guitar work is almost completely gone! There are no solos, fills or big guitar hooks and guitarist Ricardo's trademark style isnt really there. As a big fan of old school classic metal, this is something I really miss on the album, especially as the lead work on previous album Sin was so good. There is also virtually none of the folk & black metal influences the band once had and the variation of Sin is gone with all the tracks sounding relatively similar. This could all be pretty negative, but in fact the new stuff that replaces the old easily makes up for it. Inplace of the gothic rock of old is a rather electronic comercial-industrial sound that fits somewhere inbetween Rammstein and the newer albums by Samael & Mortiis. According to the booklet, the music was written almost interely by synth player Pedro and the music is very synth driven, with guitars used as a downtuned rythm part. Rather than some blatant 80s bleepy synths though, Pedro uses a lot of subtle keys & atmospherics mixed well with the guitars and some interesting ethnic sounding percussion and samples blended into the normal drumming. This gives the album a somewhat clinical & mechanical but also organic and thus quite perverted feel. For me it conjurs up images of Jack The Ripper era London with an added science-gone-wrong kind of perversion, like the soundtrack to From Hell if David Lynch had directed it! This is probably my favourite production ever :)

Although not conceptual at all, the album has a lot of strong central themes which hold it all together. This is my basic take on it:
The album opens with the faint sound of oscillating static noise out of which the main beat of opening track Soulsick appears, with the rest of the perscussion and accompanying electronics layered on with a "wait for it"-style opening vocal by singer Fernando and then a huge roaring main riff kicks in. The whole album is quite lyrically abstract but the general theme seems to be about chaos, order (and the fine line between them) and the effect (physical, emotional & spiritual) of people and things upon eachother. The intro seems like a sort of musical equivalent of the whole chaos theory / butterfly-effect concept that the album is based on, with the opening track rising randomly and unexpectedly out of the static chaos-noise, pulling itself together and then bursting suddenly to life like some primordial beast! Each following track seems to be grappling with the human condition in different ways, with vocals seemingly from both human sufferers and godlike manipualtors (including a serial killer on Lustmord & the 'Eternal Spectator'), exploring Fernandos interest in philosophical ideas, and all the time with a rather nasty, confident, predatory vibe which gives the impression of, despite the chaos, everything being in reality under his control. At the end, after the somewhat cathartic "Tired" the album closes with a sort of 'rebirth' in trippy electronics-free instrumental "k" and then after the last note, it drops back to the oscillating noise from which it came. Of course, thats just how I see it but thats what's great about the album in that its very interpretational and theres a lot to interpret.

My favourite little detail has to be the bizarre "phone call" setup of the fantastically named "I Am The Eternal Spectator". The track opens with an odd synth part after which Fernando kicks in with a rather over the top "I am the eternal spectator.." vocal and closes with the sound of a phone being hung up. After a few listens, I realised that there is actually the quiet sound of a woman picking up a phone and saying "hello" before Fernando comes on and the intro sounds noticeably like an abstract phone ring put to a pounding marching drumbeat. It's like some random woman receiving a phonecall from God!?!

As for the music itself (ie the tunes!), there isnt really a weak track on the album, but at the same time the album doesnt have anything that massively stands out. There's no Opium or Alma Mater, or even an Abysmo. When I saw the band live, they didnt play a single track from the album which shows that there are no big fan favourites (I doubt the band would never not play Opium for example). The closest it gets is maybe "Soulsick" or "Angelizer" and the middle section of tracks is a little weaker than the beginning & end, but really this is an album of solid quality songs that work better as a collective than as a collection of standalone tracks and its the kind of album where everyone probably has their own favourites. There are a lot of great melodies, just a little less obvious than before and Fernando's vocals, to me, are much stronger and more varied than on any of the other albums, especially compared to Darkness & Hope where I find them too soft and lacking in power. The concepts of the songs, the lyrics and the imagery they create also seem more 'complete' and well developed than on D&H. Although there is a glossy mechanical sheen that, like with most albums with this type of production and musical approach, can make everything a bit samey, there is actually a surprising level of heaviness and calculated viciousness... and you can still deffinitely mosh to it! Im not sure if BFX is my favourite Moonspell album, because I really miss a lot of the elements from the others but as an 'experience' type of album it works perfectly.