Metal Review: Moonspell: Alpha Noir/Omega White

Moonspell: Alpha NoirMoonspell is a band that I have been behind for a long time. From their early days in the mid-90s where they were a straight black metal band to their delvings into gothic metal and into their experimental days. But to me, they really came into their own beginning with Antidote. At that point, Moonspell transcended all that they previously were and became a certifiable juggernaut.

Perhaps it is somewhat of a historical kinship, seeing as though I was born in Portugal and Moonspell hails from there. Actually, they are quite iconic in Portugal. Their debut album, Wolfheart can actually be seen on a Portuguese postage stamp. There are not too many bands, let alone black metal bands, that can say that they have had an album cover adorn a postage stamp.

Okay, back to Alpha Noir/Omega White, since that was the point of this post. To start off, I will say that this album was well worth every day of that 4 year wait since Night Eternal. When you think of Moonspell, you think of pure power. You think of massive riffs and even better vocals, whether vocalist Fernando Ribeiro comes at you with his classic baritone vocals or with his gutteral style that can stand up to anyone’s gutteral vocals, he comes at you with every intent of overpowering you vocally. Speaking of Ribeiro, he is easily one of my favorite frontmen ever. He has an aura about him that not many people have.

I will say that I was a little worried about this release up until hearing it. They were many a statement made on how Moonspell were going to make this release a “creative experiment.” Their last creative experiment was The Butterfly Effect back at the tail end of the 20th century, and while not an entirely bad album, it was not up to the level that I was used to from them.

With my worries now eased (and I should have known better from the outset), I can say that Moonspell delivered on everything that they said they would with this release. Everything is present of this release. The dark, broody tones are still evident. The classic Moonspell power is all over the place. The thrash elements are sprinkled throughout the album. Everything is in place to make this release one of their best releases to date.

From the opening of the album, with Axis Mundi, the mood is set with the ambient opening to Ribeiro’s introduction that are stronger than ever. But, the mood does not end there. Moonspell paints a musical portrait like not too many bands can. From one track to another, their signature sound erupts from riff to riff. Their layered, powerful melodies are more evident than ever. There is not a weak moment on the album.

Oh, and did I mention that I was only talking about Alpha Noir? There is also a companion disc entitled Omega White, which is included in the Special Edition digipak of Alpha Noir. Omega White is actually not more of the same thing that Alpha Noir brings to the table. Omega White is a self-contained album in its own right, but with a different mood.

In my opinion, Omega White is nowhere near as strong as Alpha Noir, but neither is it a weak album either.  Omega White calls back to an older time of Moonspell with sounds similar to Irreligious and Darkness and Hope. While I love that era of Moonspell though, I am too addicted to their new song to ever let go.

Overall, Moonspell is back and stronger than ever, and if you miss this release, you are missing out on something special.