Kudos to Portugal's MOONSPELL for creating goth with death metal propulsion that should have cross-genre appeal. You heard it on much of "The Antidote", but "Memorial" is a 59-minute gem of an album that manages to be very heavy without dispensing with that Vampire-esque gothic appeal. While I would not call it a masterpiece, "Memorial" is a strong album with consistently good songwriting, plenty of metallic moments, and just enough keyboard work to keep everything pasty white and shrouded in fog.One could argue that by straddling genres the band waters down those gothic wisps or that by splitting the difference the power of both sides is lessened. Not so with "Memorial". Songs like "Finisterra" and "Memento Mori" are very aggressive, yet retain an acceptable level of morbidity, even if the guitars of Pedro Paixao and Ricardo Amorim, as well as the forceful kick-drum work of Mike Gaspar, moves the spotlight away from (but does not drown out) the keys. Furthermore, the vocals of Fernando Ribeiro are as aggressive as the music. The inclusion of quiet parts and TYPE O NEGATIVE-style semi-spoken bits help with the creation of atmosphere. The violin playing of guest musician Raimund Gitsels on "In Memoriam" (the short album-opening intro), the aforementioned "Memento Mori", "Sanguine" (featuring Ribeiro's cries of anguish and desperation), and "Once it was Ours" serves to smartly accent each track. And "Blood Tells!" is simply a monstrous song, as powerful and soul burning as anything I have heard from the band (trust me, you will be shouting the chorus; this one should be a great live cut). The female vocals of Brigit Zacher on "Luna" turn an otherwise solid melody into a very memorable one. An instrumental called "Proliferation" is exceedingly well done too, the all-around rhythm of the track and the edgy strings/horns (synth I'd imagine) making it sound like musical accompaniment to an especially tense scene in an espionage film. I am no expert on the gothic end of the metal spectrum, but I do know what I like. Sure, the increased emphasis on aggression may not sit well with the hardcore goth contingent, but it suits me just fine. Good album.
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