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... Of beauty And Poetry - 95%

Goldblaze, March 16th, 2012

As this is a well known classic that needs no special introduction, I will mostly skip to the point. No background bullshit. This album is beautiful. It's a prime example of how gothic metal is supposed to sound, and having various influences helps a great deal. Now, I know it may not seem authentic if one only says this little, so I will elaborate on that. Just thought it would be a good idea to spit it out of the system since it will give you the nice picture of what I am trying to say.

As I've said, this album is beautiful. It's not really complex musically nor structurally, as most of the songs are pretty straightforward despite their length. No, it's simply because what this album achieves with its qualities. This is truly what one may call gothic metal, it has it all. The atmosphere is fucking fantastic. The production is clean, but still viciously raw, in a way that you can hear everything perfectly, without falling into being overproduced. The vocals range from the quiet and melancholic baritone to a brutal shriek. That's right, Fernando Ribeiro is a singing genius. He is really passionate about this, too. Just check the intro to 'Vampiria'. He is crooning, sounding like a really scary vampire craving for the blood of his chosen bride in death, and then he lets out a shriek so vicious that it sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. The guitar work is also a big highlight. Nice and punchy riffs, beautiful solos, and classy licks are scattered throughout all of the album. Maybe the best examples are in 'Wolfshade' and '...of Dream and Drama', but more on that later. However, the best factor of the album are the keyboards. I usually despise keyboards, but not because there is no place for them in metal, it's simply because I have heard a lot of cheesy power metal bands having these overflood the sound, so I am always skeptical about them. I was amazed at the use of keyboards here. It's completely atmospheric, and as I've already said, if there were no keyboards on the album, it would never sound the same, not even near.

The album is structured in a way that it should be listened to from beginning to the end, but it does not stop the individual songs from having their own, distinctive identity. The opener, 'Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)', is probably my favorite Moonspell song. It opens with a sense of impending doom, clean strumming over haunting keyboards, and it bursts right into a marvelous guitar lead with Fernando's unmistakable vocals spitting dark poetry about the blasphemous female incarnation of a werewolf. It also has a killer break, with over a minute long guitar solo. 'Love Crimes' open with another cool riff, and the keyboards are back to remind you that they still rule. Oh yes, and the outro is not at all boring or overlong, it's mesmerizing and makes perfect sense to me. '...of Dream And Drama' has a lot of different influences. It even has keyboards adopting the sound of a rocking piano, while trading solos with the guitar. 'Lua d'Inverno' and 'Trebaruna' are pure folk metal, former being an acoustic interlude, while latter being a proper song, which is another expansion of musical influences and interests the band members have, which is a very, very positive thing. 'Trebaruna' is a song that you can almost make a war dance to. I already mentioned 'Vampiria' which is for it's first half a purely ambiental song before bursting into pretty agressive track. Oh yes, and it ends with the sound of the female scream. 'An Erotic Alchemy' is the true gem here. It's the longest track here, almost entirely synth laden, and its a duet with a female singer. Dear future shitty wanna be gothic metal bands, listen to this track and despair, because you will never sound like that, you will always suck. Not to mention the female singer is actually talented, just listen to the notes she hits. Oh and yes, she is completely unknown too. The closing song is 'Alma Mater', a purely guitar driven song, with some of the most melancholic chord progressions I've ever heard, and it works very well. It moves into a mid section with chanting, then back to the first verse to finish the album.

If Moonspell were ever to top this, and have 2 albums of this calibre, they would've easily become one of my favorite bands ever. Don't get me wrong, Irreligious, Memorial, and their later works are all solid albums, but they don't quite reach the standard that they've set with this masterpiece. If you are a fan of dark and morbid, this album is for you. Even if you are not into this kind of music, you will appreciate the lyrics if you love poetry at all. It's a classic, and with a well deserved status.

Favorite tracks: Wolfshade, ...Of Dream And Drama, An Erotic Alchemy.

Favorite moments: The solo section of the opener, outro to Love Crimes, dual solos in third track, 'Will you die for... THIIIIIIS?!' in An Erotic Alchemy.