MOONSPELL
"1755"

(Napalm)

01. Em Nome Do Medo
02. 1755
03. In Tremor Dei (feat. Paulo Bragança)
04. Desastre
05. Abanão
06. Evento
07. 1 De Novembro
08. Ruínas
09. Todos Os Santos
10. Lanterna Dos Afogados

RATING: 7/10

MOONSPELL has never been the kind of band that writes the same album over and over again. The overarching label "gothic metal" is an adequate descriptor, yet Portugal's leading metal band clearly does its best to differentiate its material from that which came before. This mindset bleeds through to album number 12: "1755". Although the band has boasted nothing short of rock star status in its homeland for a couple of decades, never before have the lyrics for an entire MOONSPELL album been sung in Portuguese exclusively; apropos considering that the conceptual focal point is the massive earthquake, estimated in the magnitude range of 8.5-9, that ravaged the group's home of Lisbon a few hundred years ago. An event that obviously tested the Portuguese people's strength.

With "1755", MOONSPELL has taken a decidedly darker turn compared to the much more accessible stylings of previous album "Extinct". There's a much more cinematic quality this time around, most notably with the layering of choral arrangements and bold orchestration, all of which are captured magnificently by TUE MADSEN's characteristically crystalline production. The songs are epic but brief and to the point without forsaking a sense of building momentum, evident on a track like "Todos Os Santos", a number that that barely exceeds the five-minute mark.

Elsewhere, a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern melodies flow through "Ruinas", while "Desastre" crawls forward with a lurching pace that highlights Fernando Ribeiro's aggressive, commanding vocals. When it works, it's nothing short of inspiring; however, his rough vocal approach is far too aggressive in relation to the majority of "1755"'s corresponding music, especially on "1 de Novembro" where he shouts along to a mellifluous display of smooth, up-tempo Euro metal. Beyond that, MOONSPELL is in fine form. Traditional metal licks embellish the gothic core of "In Tremor Dei" as Fernando narrates the track like a malevolent and maniacal historian. He's later joined by Portuguese vocal star Paulo Bragança who adds an impassioned, melancholy soaked base that helps anchor Fernando's performance and timbre to the comparatively calmer music.

There's so much going on within "1755" from the strings and bongos to the Oriental singing and cinematic soundscapes that the individual parts can be overlooked. Throughout the orchestration, pomp and drama, guitarists Ricardo Amorim and Pedro Paixão provide the driving source around which the rest of the components flourish with a hint of triumphant optimism shining through the release's morose essence and conceptual tragedy. MOONSPELL has thoughtfully and successfully conveyed the tough spirit of the Portuguese people who didn't allow the magnitude of that centuries old natural disaster to knock them out. And in terms of the band's career, MOONSPELL itself shares the resilience of the people celebrated on "1755".

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).