Moonspell – Alpha Noir

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June 28, 2012 by Beldrac

Moonspell – Alpha Noir/Omega White

Rating: [11/13]

Country: Portugal

Released: 2012

Genre: Gothic Metal

So, this is the year of a new Moonspell called Alpha Noir which was released in a special edition pack with a bonus album called Omega White. It’s not often that a band releases a bonus “album,” tracks are quite common but an extra 40 minutes of goodness that’s not made up of b-sides and live tracks is quite generous. Or perhaps this was going to be on the album anyway, and saying “Special Edition Bonus Disc” sells more copies…

Anyway never mind that, the first thing I want to say about this album is: the wolves of old are back – prowling, dark, and menacing, and spellbinglingly beautiful. This is the first time since Wolfheart that they’ve really managed to recapture that menace with which they tore into the hearts and minds of so many people near sixteen years ago. It isn’t the heaviest album they’ve made and most of the Death Metal that influenced their last few albums is all but gone. There’s nothing really spectacular about Alpha Noir, but it’s catchy and well executed – if in all honesty a little bland at times. But the full moon is out and Fernando’s growl is out in full force, and there are a few nice melodies woven into the dark fabric of the album. In fact, some of the tracks are catchy as hell and you’d be forgiven if your head starts bobbing up and down at random intervals, to the confusion of those uninformed in your pack. It’s quite easily digestible and I very quickly got into this album – much quicker than any album since Irreligious. Which set off a few warnings – albums so easily appreciated often don’t last that long, and I had worries that I’ll get bored with it. Admittedly, it’s only been a couple of months since its release but I’m still digging it, and Omega White stands as a stark counterbalance to extend the appreciation.

Tracks that really stand out are Alpha Noir, Lickanthrope, Opera Carne (which reminds me of classic Moonspell,) Axis Mundi and Grandstand. To my recollection in En Nome Do Medo, it’s also the first time since Wolfheart’s Trebraruna that they wrote song in Portuguese.

While Alpha Noir is the body and mind of this record, the heart and soul lie here in Omega White – in a typical beauty and the beast fashion (not Disney mind you, rather Phantom of the Opera.) Alpha and Omega are drawn to each other like Erik (Le Fantôme) and Christine, Aragorn and Arwen; one is rough and wild and the other soft, strong and elegant. I’d almost suggest that Omega White could’ve been the “main” release here, or would’ve dominated a single-disc album. There’s so much to this album, so much melody and emotion – (the song) White Omega a perfect example – mostly unlike anything the band has done before. Maybe they were afraid of how fans would react if their album was predominantly made up of these sorts of tracks, but it’s really damn good. There’s at times a Sisters of Mercy vibe that’s not at all out of place, just listen to White Skies and Herodisiac to hear what I mean. The album has a soft polished sheen that coats the normal ebony atmosphere of Moonspell, on levels not often experienced on previous albums and the closest comparison would perhaps be Scorpion Flower from Night Eternal.

The album closes off with A Greater Darkness, which deserves special mention and starts with the simple strumming of a guitar and slowly adds layers to become one of the most memorable songs the band has ever crafted. Let’s not speak about lyrical or deeper meaning, and there is no one thing that stands out to be mentioned, it just works; the way it builds up, becomes more intense, more emotional, with every repeating chorus digging deeper and deeper – to reappear out of nowhere, out of silence, unprompted, unaccompanied, and most welcomed.

When I first listened to Alpha Noir/Omega White I said this is the best they’ve done since The Antidote, and even though I believe it lacks that something that’ll make it a great, I’m sticking to that assertion. It doesn’t reach the heights of the greats that have gone before but for me at least, Alpha Noir reflects some of the old Moonspell if not in style but in spirit. Omega White was a very pleasant surprise, it’s great that they’ve brought an album in this style into their catalogue. I’m sure there are many out there who would disagree with me on this one though, and say that it doesn’t come close to their standards, but hell, if this can make my skin crawl then it is right up there.

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