Moonspell - Memorial review
|Release date:||April 2006|
Disc I [CD]
01. In Memoriam
03. Memento Mori
04. Sons Of Earth
05. Blood Tells
06. Upon The Blood Of Men
07. At The Image Of Pain
10. Once It Was Ours!
11. Mare Nostrum
13. Best Forgotten
14. Atlantic [Special Luxury Digipak bonus]
15. Phantom North [Portuguese bonus]
Disc II [DVD]
01. Memento Mori [Live at CC estúdio 2]
02. Blood Tells [Live at CC estúdio 2]
03. Best Forgotten [Live at CC estúdio 2]
04. In Memoriam [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
05. Finisterra [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
06. Memento Mori [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
07. Blood Tells [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
08. Proliferation [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
09. Upon The Blood of Men [Live at Vilar de Mouros Festival]
+ Finisterra [video]
+ Luna [video]
+ Making Of Finisterra [video]
I can't help starting this review by stating how disappointing 2006 has been so far for me. I've been trying, I've been trying to find some really great new albums and bands but, I don't know, maybe I've just listened to so much Metal in my life that it just doesn't surprised me as much as it used to. That or maybe there really hasn't been released any truly impressive album since January.
Whatever the reason is I try not to think about this when I get a new album on my hands, otherwise how could I even be able to try to enjoy anything new if I didn't chose this attitude? I wouldn't. In Flames, Lacuna Coil, Sadus, Ajattara, Katatonia, Norther, so many good and different bands that I already had the pleasure to see coming back to action recently, some successfully in my eyes, other not so much, but still, no return did I awaited more then Moonspell's.
This brings us (to) "Memorial." What to expect? "The Antidote" was great, should I put my hopes too high? Or should I do the contrary in case they try to "play" with us and not play safe? "Oh well, I know that is going to happen anyway and they normally manage to do a good job," I thought. And, luckily, I was right. In fact, I was so right that I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I first pushed play. "Memorial" is not just Gothic, it's not just Black, it's not just Doom, it's not just Death, it's one of the most amazing blends of those four styles my ears have ever heard.
This band had already explored all of them (even if only shortly in some cases) so now they serve us with everything put together in a monumental exercise of originality. Immediately I understood that this was going to be Moonspell's heaviest, darkest and coldest album so far, an evil atmosphere followed me right from the beginning as I went on into the depths of this that is Moonspell closer to the demo era, "Under The Moonspell" and "Wolfheart" as they had never been before.
While in "The Antidote" most songs had a more or less well defined structure, in "Memorial" there's a bit more variation to what song writing is concerned. There are occasional deviations, some instrumental songs and a song that lasts for more then 14 minutes ("Best Forgotten," most of it is just background noise, but so haunting that I can't stop listening, I always go through the entire 14 minutes), but there's also that sense of continuity and cohesion that was one of the best points about the previous work. The songs are generally not the catchiest this band has made, but the epic feeling and the melodic arrangements and keyboards make them extremely addicting and pleasant, even in some really heavy moments.
And what else will you hear in those heavier moments? Fernando Ribeiro growling. Never has he used this technique as much or as well as in "Memorial." I like his clean voice; in fact I think any frontman of a Gothic band would sell his soul to sound as melancholic and dark as him. He still sings sometimes, but his growls here are infernal, it adds up even more to the intensity of the songs, just listen to "Finisterra" (amazing, above the Black Metal influenced riffage) or "Upon The Blood Of Men" especially in the (perfect) chorus, it was definitely a good decision to use them more often. This time, again, there's a gift for fans of female vocals in Moonspell's songs in "Luna," a really sad and slow(er) song, I bet this one is going to be considered one of the highlights.
The other members have great performances too; Pedro Paixão fills the music with interesting details, the drums are at least as great and loud as in "The Antidote" and I'm going to take a guess and say this is the Moonspell album with more riffs. It's a shame how solos have been disappearing in Gothic Metal, but here you'll find several and all very well executed ones, too. On top of this there's also the extremely professional production, crystal clear sound.
Like I said, some connections with "Wolfheart" can be made, even lyrically (a department in which Fernando Ribeiro never disappoints by the way, and this is no exception, no one writes better lyrics, but here I'm just stating my own personal opinion). However, like every other Moonspell album, "Memorial" has its own identity, and that fact alone would make this a worthy listen.
Yet, "Memorial" is close to perfection. First time I was listening to it I wasn't even in the middle of the album, and I was already blown away by its immense power and versatility and thinking about giving it more than a 9. I couldn't help it, Moonspell is just that good. In such a long career that counts with more than one album critically acclaimed and generally accepted as a masterpiece, to come up to their 7th work and still have the passion, strength and mind to make such amazing albums is an absolute proof of musical geniality. Suddenly 2006 acquired a whole new meaning...
|The spell of the dark moon is back. Portugal's number one act returns with the anticipated "Memorial". An old fan of the band like me knows that Moonspell's motto is evolution. Thus, not two albums from them sound the same. Follow-up to 2005's "The Antidote" - which had taken a more direct approach to their music - this year's album definitely harbors the darker side of it, which will regroup fans of their darker period with enthusiasts of their more recent albums.
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|One day your favourite band decides to change its music. They always get some new fans of course but in general the whiners win if you see what I mean and anyway I don't remember a lot combos that found an impressive success with their "new" musical orientation. Moonspell did that change too after two monumental albums, Wolfheart and Irreligious. With Sin/Pecado, the band did a radical turnover and it didn't convince me. However, they said lately that they wanted to do a real come back to their roots with their new album "Memorial". A lot of bands do that and you probably know that it is just words in general, so I was a bit doubtful. But I came the other day on their website and had the luck to listen to the sample of "Finisterra" and God it was right, at least for this song, Moonspell was back to their beginning and now that I have the album in my hand I can confirm that "Memorial" is a great album… welcome back Moonspell…
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|The previous year at the live show of Moonspell I was there, in the front line, shouting from time to time "Tenebrarum Oratorium", someone laughed, but Moonspell had kept this song as final, I conceived this live interpretation of this great song as a birthday present because at that very day I was celebrating my 20th birthday and I gave it all during the song. I remember Fernando Ribeiro had introduced this song as a new one, I didn't get the meaning back then since it was a composition coming from their "Under The Moonspell" days, but from the very first moment "Memorial" started unleashing its nocturnal melodies the night sky became too clear, only the spell of the moon could be cast upon us and the perfume of memories from the past was alluring the atmosphere.
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|Memorial starts off with the good ole' Moonspell feeling through an instrumental track In Memorial, but once the second track Finisterra kicks in, one can be amazed how brutal it sounds compared to their earlier work. I have heard people compare this album to Daemonarch's Hermeticum and I can see why. The album definitely has a more brutal approach and has quite a few resemblances to Wolfheart and Hermeticum, even bordering black metal at times.
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