May 8, 2008 | | 3.5

Moonspell, Night Eternal

Moonspell is one of those bands that has shifted their core sound a bit through the years — making the slow evolution from folk metal through gothic metal and now into this primordial combination of gothic elements and blackened death metal. Yet, through all of these changes the band has continually incorporated their older elements into their revised sound. They’ve never completely abandoned their past incarnations, but have smartly infused them into where they have taken the band musically.

With their latest release of new material, we see Moonspell embrace more death metal elements and black metal as it’s core. The guitars are more in your face with a head banging groove that the band didn’t quite possess in previous releases. Gothic and folk ingredients are still present as seen in the wailling female vocals, keyboard elements and deep spoken passages on a few of the songs. Overall, Night Eternal sees the band with a fresh, rejuvenated sound that’s full of power and contain a renewed fury.

At Tragic Heights
“At Tragic Heights” opens the album with female singing off in the distant and string orchestration while tribal-like drums pound in the background. It’s quite a theatrical entrance for the band that incorporates softly spoken lyrics. The intro lasts a solid minute and a half before some guitar comes in to match the string elements. At the 1:45 mark thunderous drums come in as the band builds upon itself until their furious, up tempo riffs take over. There’s an undeniable head banging groove through the rest of the track that is catchy and memorable. Fernando Ribeiro’s vocals are deep and slightly guttural yet completely understandable and well suited for the band’s refreshed sound.

Night Eternal
The album’s title track starts off with ambient noise and light guitars before a big riff and heavy drumming drown it out. Female vocals wale in the distance as the band moves along with deep, guttural vocals. The lead at the 2:20 mark is soaring when compared to the gothic feel of the rest of the track. Surprisingly, there’s a bit of a breakdown that follows the lead that’s pretty damned beefy.

Shadow Sun
“Shadow Sun” starts off lightly with softly sung/spoken layered vocals that have a heavy goth feel to them. The rest of the band comes in at the 1:20 mark with pummeling drum work and crushing riffs. Man, this is one powerful and bruising track when it gets going full throttle.

Scorpion Flower
This next song features former The Gathering front woman Anneke in a duet with Ribeiro. While her vocals are pushed to the background a bit, Ribeiro’s are up front whether in their softer sung variety or his more powerful singing. This one is a bit much for myself in terms of the gothic feel, but I’m sure older fans of the band will be drooling over it.

Moon in Mercury
“Moon in Mercury” starts off with some memorable guitar work and big scream before the band settles into a nice mid tempo pace. I’m digging Ribeiro’s more aggressive take on his vocals with this song. The growls at the two minute mark are evil as hell. The solo that comes in at the 2:40 mark is simply awe inspiring.

Hers is the Twighlight
A sick lead starts this one off as intense drumming takes over the head bang inducing task. The track quickly slows to allow for light guitar work, backing vocals noise and layered main vocals. Picking the pace back up with bruising drums and guttural screams, Moonspell transition between various tempos seamlessly throughout the track.

Dreamless (Lucifer and Lilith)
“Dreamless” starts out with some lighter, yet memorable riffing and keyboard work as the drums beat away at a steady pace. Overall, this one has a much more gothic feel to it complete with backing female vocals and melancholy guitar tones.

Spring of Rage
I love the guitar work that starts off this one. There’s a brief explosion of up tempo drumming and riffs, before the band shifts into their gothic influenced lighter stuff. Moonspell transition from the lighter sound to beefy explosions throughout the track. Man, the heavier portions of this track certainly do contain a good dose of rage in their short blasts. I just wish there was more of them.

First Light
“First Light” opens with string orchestration and acoustic guitar for the first 15 seconds or so before big riffs and heavy drums come in. Spoken vocals start off the lyrical delivery as Ribeiro stretches his guttural delivery to its max in conjunction with chanted female choruses.

~ ~ ~

After Moonspell went back and rerecorded some older material for their last release, the renewed energies of the band members only proved beneficial as Night Eternal is their heaviest and most solid release of new material to date. Catchy riffs, up front vocals and the willingness to embrace more death and black metal elements work well together on a well produced and powerful sounding album. If you dig Moonspell already, this should be as natural a progression for you as it has been for the band. If you’re new to them or were on the fence before, the band has done all they can with this one to incorporate you into their flock of followers. Join or get the hell out of the way.

Favorite Tracks:
Night Eternal
Shadow Sun
Moon in Mercury

Additional Notes: