MOON­SPELL

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums -

1755

NA­PALM

Dark, sym­phonic majesty from the Ibe­rian shad­ows A con­cept piece de­voted to the year that saw Lis­bon dev­as­tated by a colos­sal earth­quake, 1755 makes its lofty am­bi­tions known from the start. Open­ing over­ture Em Nome Do Medo brashly reaf­firms the band’s sym­phonic cre­den­tials, as Moon­spell vo­cal­ist Fer­nando Ribeiro howls at the moon from within a star­tling con­fla­gra­tion of choral bom­bast and shim­mer­ing melo­drama. When gui­tars fi­nally kick in on the ti­tle track, it’s in­stantly ob­vi­ous that the Por­tuguese vet­er­ans have re­dis­cov­ered the swag­ger and de­fi­ant ec­cen­tric­ity that made early al­bums like Wolf­heart and Ir­re­li­gious such po­tent and en­dur­ing bench­marks for ex­treme metal’s gothic wing. Not that there was any­thing much wrong with the band’s last al­bum, 2015’s Ex­tinct, but where that record rev­elled in sub­tle acts of sub­ver­sion, 1755 con­sis­tently feels like a sparkling re­birth for the clas­sic Moon­spell sound: dark, ro­man­tic, un­set­tling and know­ingly ex­trav­a­gant in both de­sign and de­liv­ery. Songs like De­sas­tre and Evento plainly owe their souls to the greats of 80s goth rock, but Moon­spell have never aban­doned their un­der­ground metal roots; for all its sim­plic­ity and catch­i­ness, 1755 is un­com­pro­mis­ingly heavy, too. Sung en­tirely in Por­tuguese, the con­cep­tual thread may take some un­rav­el­ling for non-speak­ers, but some­thing this band have al­ways done well is to cre­ate a be­liev­able back­drop for their front­man’s flam­boy­ant procla­ma­tions: here, riv­et­ing emo­tional sub­stance is in plen­ti­ful sup­ply. Sev­eral mo­ments, not least jaw-drop­ping closer Lan­terna Dos Afo­ga­dos with its el­e­gant or­ches­tral flour­ishes, are al­most ab­surdly mov­ing. Al­ways de­serv­ing of a big­ger and broader au­di­ence than their cult sta­tus al­lows, Moon­spell have dug deep and de­liv­ered their finest al­bum in many full moons.

FOR FANS OF: OR­PHANED LAND, ROT­TING CHRIST, CRA­DLE OF FILTH

DOM LAW­SON

Moon­spell aren’t on shaky ground

with their new re­lease

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