2016-08-31

Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 6-4

I was quite intrigued and later inspired by AMG's excellent "From Worst to Best"-section he did with Iron Maiden, that I decided to the very same with some of the bands who's discography I am familiar with (more so than Maiden anyway). So this is my extremly personal "From Inferior to Prime" (since I assumed AMG copyrighted that other sentence. Anyway, I'm not the least ashamed to borrow stuff this blantantly. Also, I now linked to the guy's site twice, so he should actually be glad.

This is my personal From Inferior to Prime 6-4 feautring the pride of Portugal. 

#6. Night Eternal (2008)

1. At Tragic Heights
2. Night Eternal
3. Shadow Sun
4. Scorpion Flower
5. Moon In Mercury
6. Hers Is The Twilight
7. Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith)
8. Spring Of Rage
9. First Light
10. Age Of Mothers












What to say about this album really? The band had already made sort of a "comeback" with it's previously released album that broke the boring trend set by "Darkness and Hope" but this album seems to be more highly revered for some damn reason. I don't know if I'm correct here, but it feels like "Night Eternal" sort of "broke" the band to a new audience or something. Maybe it was good timing for the band, maybe I'm all wrong? Who knows?

Fact is that many Moonspell-fans seems to highly praise this album. Myself, I am a bit split. For you see even if there's tracks that are good (the title track and "Moon in Mercury"), songs that are OK ("Shadow Sun", "Scorpion Flower" and "Hers is the Twilight") and even amazing ("At Tragic Heights") there's also the usual filler material. It's basically the same type of music the band tried to make with "Darkness and Hope" and "The Antidote", only this time it is much more consistent. Good album indeed, but nowhere near the masterpiece some say it is.



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#5. Memorial (2006)

1. In Memoriam
2. Finisterra
3. Memento Mori
4. Sons Of Earth
5. Blood Tells
6. Upon The Blood Of Men
7. At The Image Of Pain
8. Sanguine
9. Proliferation
10. Once It Was Ours!
11. Mare Nostrum
12. Luna
13. Best Forgotten
14. Atlantic









I had first been dissapointed with "Darkness and Hope" in 2001 and then again with "The Antidote" in 2003. Moonspell was far from being my favourite band at this point. In 2004 I heard a new song with the band called "I'll See You in my Dreams" and said song, together with a ludicrous video, made me more or less shun the band that I once loved. I gave up on Moonspell. The almost 7 year long honeymoon we had were over. The years passed. I noticed they had a new album out but it wasn't until I had heard "Under Satanæ" in 2007 that I remembered what I had liked about this band in the first place. Without any hopes, I took a first listen to "Memorial"...

The weird thing is that this album is exactly in the same style as the two previously released albums, but here they feel rejuvenated. Perhaps a three-year gap in album releases was what the band needed to get back on track. For the first time since 1998, Moonspell gives us an album that actually flows from start to finish. Besides giving us really good tracks such as "Finisterra", "At the Image of Pain" and "Best Forgotten" we are also greeted with amazing songs in "Upon the Blood of Men", "Sanguine" and "Once it was Ours!". The most unintersting tracks are the instrumentals and while I must say there are a bit too many of them (4 alltogether) and that "Proliferation" is a bit too long, they do keep the flow of the album intact and isn't all too distracting to the ears.

All in all, "Memorial" is a great "comeback" for a band that I considered dead and forgotten. It is the classic black gothic metal that we're used too when it comes to Moonspell, although perhaps a bit more aggressive and less gothic than they've been in a long time.



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#4. Irreligious (1996)

1. Perverse...Almost Religious
2. Opium
3. Awake!
4. For A Taste Of Eternity
5. Ruin And Misery
6. A Poisoned Gift
7. Subversion
8. Raven Claws
9. Mephisto
10. Herr Spiegelman
11. Full Moon Madness











Let's talk a bit about the cover before we go into the music now. The band themselves admitted that the artwork to "Irreligious" was a bit rushed and I get what they mean. They probably wanted to ride quickly on the wave of success coming off their debut album one year earlier so they just threw someting that looked "gothic" to please the audience. But slapping the eye of Ra onto a fiery background might not have been the best idea. Not an ounce of the music on this albums has any Egyptian theme to it either so there's really no connection to the music which is something I've always hated about "Irreligious"...

But that's about the only thing I hate here. For you see, not only does this album reek of atmosphere, classic songs, unexpected twists and turns and cringe-worthy English pronounciation with that wonderful Portugese accent of vocalist Fernando Ribiero - no, it is also the host of my all-time favourite intro ever. Aside from being wonderfully titled, "Perverse...Almost Religious" is an instrumental with just the perfect length (1:07). Then there's way it builds up from nothing, slowly creeps up on the listener and then errupts violently into what just might be Moonspell's most recognizable song "Opium" is so masterfully done that it amazes me to this day. While not being entirely instrumental, "Awake!" does the exact same thing one song later as it builds up and unexpectedly ends as the fury of "A Taste of Eternity" begins. And then the smash-hits just keeps coming at us; "Ruin And Misery", "A Poisoned Gift", "Raven Claws" etc.

So does the album have any weak spots then? Well, not really but I have understood that the two songs that I like the least - while not being bad per se - are two of the one's that fans really seems to love. I get what "Full Moon Madness" tries to do but I've never considered it as good and as classic as everyone else does. And I honestly think it's a shame that the band almost always ends their concert with said song since it just seems a bit too bloated for it's own good. "Mephisto" is a better song but it's also one of those that I never understood the immense love fans have for it.


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Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 12-10
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 9-7
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 3-1

2016-08-30

Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 9-7

I was quite intrigued and later inspired by AMG's excellent "From Worst to Best"-section he did with Iron Maiden, that I decided to the very same with some of the bands who's discography I am familiar with (more so than Maiden anyway). So this is my extremly personal "From Inferior to Prime" (since I assumed AMG copyrighted that other sentence. Anyway, I'm not the least ashamed to borrow stuff this blantantly. Also, I now linked to the guy's site twice, so he should actually be glad.

This is my personal From Inferior to Prime 9-7 feautring the pride of Portugal. 

#9. The Antidote (2003)
1. In and Above Men
2. From Lowering Skies
3. Everything Invaded
4. The Southern Deathstyle
5. Antidote
6. Capricorn at her Feet
7. Lunar Still
8. A Walk on the Darkside
9. Crystal Gazing
10. As we Eternally Sleep on it














Together with "Darkness and Hope", this album is also very uneven, although slightly better than it's predecessor. After two more "experimental" albums in -98 and -99, Moonspell tried their best to return to a more similar soundscape that they had in their beginning. "Darkness and Hope" was the first careful baby steps back into that southern combo of black- and gothic metal that only Moonspell can do. "The Antidote" is basically it's big brother - harder, darker and more complex - yet still plagued by the problem that it's an uneven album.

Things start off on a positive note with the amazing opener "In and Above Men" which is a real smash to the jaw. It continues on a positive note with tracks 2-4 and one is soon lured into believing that this album will turn out real good. Unfortunately, the title track is a letdown and cannot raise itself above mediocrity, "Capricorn at her Feet" will bore you to tears and "Lunar Still" is just cringe-worthy. Although being a bit repetitive, "Crystal Gazing" is OK, but far from being in the same league as the first four tracks.



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#8. Under Satanæ (2007)
1. Halla Alle Halla Al Rabka Halla (Praeludium/Incantatum Solistitium)
2. Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento I/Erudit Compendyum)
3. Interludium/Incantatum Oequinoctum
4. Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento II/Erotic Compendyum)
5. Opus Diabolicum (Andamento III/Instrumental Compendyum)
6. Chorai Lusitânia! (Epilogus/Incantatum Maresia)
7. Goat on Fire
8. Ancient Winter Goddess
9. Wolves from the Fog
10. Serpent Angel


Before Moonspell signed to Century Media, the band released a MCD in 1994 on Adipocere Records called "Under the Moonspell", before that a demo called "Anno Satanæ" and - when the band was simply known as Morbid God - a track called "Serpent Angel". The 6 tracks from the MCD, the 3 from the demo and the oddity before they became Moonspell, are here re-recorded and released under the monicker "Under Satanæ" in 2007.

Re-recordings are bound to be met with skepticism. I can think of plenty experiments gone wrong (here's looking at you Dimmu Borgir) but I can understand why certain bands want to showcase what they did in their youth with a better production and a tighter performance. I have of course heard all these original recordings before and believe me when I say that the "production" the band had in the early 90's was dreadful beyond belief. Perfomance-wise, one can really hear that these are very young guys sometimes playing beyond their skills. On the other hand, the atmosphere and the sheer emotion on songs such as "Wolves from the Fog", "Ancient Winter Goddess" and "Tenebrarum Oratorium I" are to die for and even though the song-writing goes all over the place, it just adds to the youthful charm.

But what about this re-recording then? To be honest, I'd much rather listen to the originals. But like I mentioned earlier, some of these songs are so damn good on their own, that it can be refreshing to hear a new take on them. The musicianship is of course 100% tighter compared to the originals, but sometimes that is not something that the songs benefits from. On the contrary, the more "modern" and polished sound sometimes takes away the youthful "evil" they once had. Still, "Under Satanæ" is far from being a disaster, it's more an interesting oddity that might serve as an introduction to those people still skeptical of the band from it's pre-"Wolfheart" days.



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#7. The Butterfly Effect (1999)
1. Soulsick
2. Butterfly FX
3. Can't Bee
4. Lustmord
5. Selfabuse
6. I am the Eternal Spectator
7. Soulitary Vice
8. Disappear Here
9. Adaptables
10. Angelizer
11. Tired













This is definitely one of the bands' most scorned albums and also the album that is the most far away from Moonspell's contemporary sound. The album suffers greatly from the "millenium-fever" when, if you remember, around 1998-2001 about a billion metal bands decided to change their logo, change their music style and use ugly-ass album art. And Moonspell was no exception (except perhaps art-wise) when they proudly proclaimed that they weren't going to Germany to record their 4th album. No, this time they were travelling to the UK to get a more "urban sound". "The Butterfly Effect" was the result...

It is the most industrial-sounding album from the band. Period. It has no warmth and lacks severly in any sort of atmosphere. The songs usually have a bit more "laid back" approach in the verses and Fernando mostly uses clean vocals, then the chorus comes and he screams. Rinse and repeat. The lyrics have had a major overhaul as well; from lost love, werewolves, vampires and nature to cringe-worthy lines such as "Then I'll come in my own mouth to feel what it's like" and the downright embarrassing "My right hand rebels and chops off the left. (The) hairy ape walks into stage. He tries to stay erect". I mean what the fuck?

And with all of the above in consideration, this is still far from being the band's worst effort. Why is that you ask? Well, for start I applaud the band in doing something (at the time) entirely different. I like the soothing calm of "Can't Bee", the midtempo of "Soulitary Vice" and the insanity of "Tired". The album as whole is severely lacking and some of the songs should most definitely been left at the drawing board. And even the songs that I don't find particularly interesting such as "Soulsick", "The Butterfly FX" and "I am the Eternal Spectator" are more like guilty pleasures for me. They get stuck to your head and they won't leave - even in all their crappiness. Why!?!



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Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 12-10
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 6-4
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 3-1

2016-08-29

Top-10 list of 2015

FOREWORD
It's been almost a year since the last update and so here we go again. The reason why I never wrote anything for so long? More or less it's the same as usual. It's uninteresting nevertheless.
Anyway, on to 2015. It was the year of avantgarde- and doom-metal. It was the year of "comebacks" sort of speak. It was the year when I spun the #1-spot more times than can be considered healthy.


10. Sigh - Graveward
Style: Avantgarde metal
Origin: UK
Still whacky and really out there, I was still very dissapointed with "Graveward" compared to the much cooler and catchier "In Somnophobia" (2012). That's it, nothing more, nothing less.





9. Cradle of Filth - Hammer of the Witches
Style: Gothic/black metal
Origin: UK
It feels like it was ages ago since I completely dismissed this band. When I dig deeper, I realize that I simply lost interest after the mediocre "EP+covers+new-recorded songs" "Bitter Suites to Succubi" back in 2001. I heard a track here and there but my lack of interest seems to have taken place at the exact same time that the band decided to write truly mediocre songs when compared to such classics as "Cruelty and the Beast" (1998) and especially "Dusk and her Embrace" (1996).
But that was then and 2015 is the current year. On "Hammer of the Witches" the band has finally started to look back at and started to take notes from the previously mentioned albums and what a good idea that was. Suddenly the band sounds like CoF again with the classic Iron Maiden-twin guitars and memorable melodies. The album flows coherently and is genuinely fun to listen to. My only complaint is that there's not really any special song that sticks out of the bunch which doesen't give it that "instant classic"-feel. On the other hand, no song is outright bad and most importantly, this album gives me hope for the band's future and is a huge leap in the right direction. Not bad for a band that I never thought I'd be interested in hearing any new music from.


8. Paradise Lost - The Plague Within
Style: Gothic/doom metal
Origin: UK
Ever since 2000, magazines, record companies and even the band themselves have promised a "return to the old". Why is that you might ask? Because 1999 was the year when the band went comepletely Depeche Mode (but in a bad way mind you) on us. After said album had gotten it's rightful bad reviews, EVERYONE promised that the next album would feature more prominent, heavy and crushing guitars, the soaring melodies and the dark vocals the band has become known for. I remember how many magazines praised "Believe in Nothing" (2001) as a "return to form" and I can only laugh at such statements today. But the same damn thing have been said before each and every Paradise Lost-release ever since. And that's 5 fucking albums mind you! In recent years, they've come closer to their old sound yes, but it took precisely 16 years until the TRUE return.
For you see, "The Plague Within" is the most consistent, hard-hitting and depressing album since the band's major breakthrough "Draconian Times" (1995). Although not being quite as consistent and flowing as well as said album, this one comes really fucking close. And that's coming from a band that I've given up on since way back. Songs such as "No Hope in Sight", "Terminal", "An Eternity of Lies", "Punishment Through Time", "Beneath Broken Earth" and "Victim of the Past" are all damn good songs that the lads should be very proud of.


7. Marduk - Frontschwein
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
Well, fuck me. Apart from blastbeating us all to hell since the early 90's, Marduk has no problems when it comes to slowing down their tempo or even playing catchy mid-tempo wartunes. This album combines all three elements with perfection but also succeeds when it comes to memorable black metal songs. It doesn't hurt that the band can brag with having the world's greatest vocalist of the genre either. All these things combined, makes "Frontschwein" one of the best, if not THE best album from Marduk I've ever heard. It's most certainly the band's most even effort at least.


6. Ghost - Meliora
Style: Rock
Origin: Sweden
The band that you either hate or love (I'm somewhere inbetween) is back with their third album. It seems many people had high demands for this one since their previous album apparently was universally claimed as inferior to their very successful debut. I thought the previous album was ok, it had it's highs and lows - just as the debut had. On "Meliora", Ghost finally hits the famous nail on it's head. This is easliy their most even album and even the weaker songs has some redeeming qualities to them. The songs that do stand out ("Spirit", "Cirice", "He Is" and "Deus in Absentia") continues the band's winning formula and I hear a lot more ABBA in the music now than I've done earlier. And that is always a plus.


5. Arcturus - Arcturian
Style: Avantgarde metal
Origin: Norway
What is it with this band and production value? The band's 10-year old previous album "Sideshow Symphonies" (2005) had a dull and lifeless production that effectively killed the otherwise ok quality some of those songs had. The band's "return" "Arcturian" also shows very little effort put into production. Now this is an issue I seldom care about when it comes to music, but in Arcturus' case - it makes a huge fucking difference if one is to pick out all the little details that goes into their music. Compared to the production on the two eternal classics "La Masquerade Infernale" (1997) and "The Sham Mirrors" (2002), these latest albums are a joke.
Music-wise, "Arcturian" is a small step up from it's predecessor. The band borrows heavily from it's own past discography and one can even hear hints from their debut album "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" (1995) in small doses. Otherwise, things are as one would expect:
* Vortex is an outstanding vocalist that sometimes hides a bit too much behind effects, making him sound less epic that we all know he can be.
* The keyboards and piano alternates by sometimes sweeping along to the music whilst sometimes carrying the entire melody on it's own shoulders and then sometimes just goes beyond weird and far away....into space.
* Great and memorable guitar melodies (but haven't we heard some of these before?)
* Plastic and lifeless drumming by the ever-present Hellhammer.
Sometimes it sounds as if the band are compeletely out of new ideas, and this is especially worrying since they've had 10 years since the last album. I don't know if I should worry about the future anyways, since Arcturus always seems to break up and then reform.


4. Moonspell - Extinct
Style: Gothic metal
Origin: Portugal
I'll admit, I liked "Night Eternal" (2008) quite a lot, but I didn't give me that certain feeling that Moonspell have been lacking ever since they decided to go all "millennium" on us and give us that awful trash that "The Butterfly Effect" (1999) was. But if "Night Eternal" gave me hope, the follow-up "Alpha Noir" (2012) and it's sibling "Omega White" (2012) crushed that little streak of hope with a massive fucking hammer, so bad was it. Fast forward three years and Moonspell finally got to their senses and once more delivered something they can be proud of. Sure, it doesn't have the haunting atmosphere of "Irreligious" (1996) or the youthful brilliance in songwriting that "Wolfheart" (1995) has, but it reminds me of "Sin/Pecado" (1998) at some points, although being more aggressive than said album. This is essentially a pop-album written with distorted guitars and growls in mind, and what a masterstroke that was. The album flows along like a river and it is easy to see (and hear) that the band actually wrote songs with an entire album in mind, instead of just writing one or two songs and then fillers for the rest of the album. I'm almost inclined to call this comeback of the year, but there has been quite a few of those haven't there?


3. Solefald - World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud
Style: Avantgarde metal
Origin: Norway
Ah, Solefald. What a weird band you are. The now 5-year old album "Norrøn Livskunst" (2010) gave me a couple of eargasms and back in the days, I definitely considered it the band's best work. But now, the aptly titled "World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud" is upon an unexpecting world. And seriously, I can't think of any other band that manages to fit eurodisco and tribal rythms into a metal song, without it seeming out of place. I know that this isn't music for most people, but if you would just let the sheer brilliance of "World Music with Black Edges""The Germanic Entity""2011, or a Knight of the Fail" and the amazing "String the Bow of Sorrow" caress your ears enough times, you might enjoy this. Hell, even the obvious weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird-song "Bububu Bad Beuys" is sweet music to my ears. Unlike "Tittentattenteksti" on the predecessor, this one makes me smile and nod my head with the music. One also have to appreciate the always thoughtful and provocative lyrics from Cornelius Jakhelln, this time with a load of social criticism in them. Easily Solefald's best album to date.


2. My Dying Bride - Feel the Misery
Style: Doom metal
Origin: UK
Every time My Dying Bride announces a new album is in the works, my anticipations are sky-high since they are one of my all-time favourite bands. Apart from "34.788%...Complete" in 1998 I haven't been entirely dissapointed by any of their albums even though some are better than others. I have no illusions that the band ever will be able to top their masterpieces "Turn Loose the Swans" (1993) and "The Angel and the Dark River" (1995).
The band latest opus with the cringe-worthy title "Feel the Misery" does it's best to combine the band's latter works with their earlier outputs and the result is satisfying to say the least. Most times when I listen to a new MDB-album for the first time, I feel drawn to it and immediately find favourites here and there. This time however, I get the feeling that some of the songs almost sounds unfinished and others sounds like growers. The only real track I feel drawn to at once is the amazing opener "And my Father Left Forever" - whose title alone speaks of more misery than the actual album title. The album has still has that distinctive My Dying Bride-feel and from the first note to the last, there's no doubt which band is playing. It is an album that grew immensely on me over time and should not be overlooked in the band's amazing discography.


1. Amorphis - Under the Red Cloud
Style: Gothic/doom metal
Origin: Finland
"Tales from the Thousand Lakes" (1994) is often regarded as a classic and I while I really enjoy the first half or so of the album, I feel that the latter songs lack too much to be considered "classic". It is a damn good album nevertheless and it's follower "Elegy" (1996) also had a couple of damn good songs even though the album as a whole is very uneven. After a couple of truly mediocre albums and the change of a vocalist sometime in the middle of the 00's, the band once more felt rejuvenated. But to me, the band has still been plauged with the fact that for every couple of good/great songs on each album, there have always been a couple that felt uninspired and plain boring. That changed profoundly with "Under the Red Cloud".
Amorphis isn't one of those bands that I hold in very high regard (such as My Dying Bride, Vintersorg or Moonspell) so I had expected to like a few tracks off the album and the more or less forget about it. Little did I know that I would been playing this album non-stop since it was released in September. Each and every track on this album sounds absolutely killer and even the bonus tracks are above good. The subtle nods to the best moments from "Tales..." and "Elegy" are done with a great sense of homage and not boring nostalgia.
In my opinion, this is the crowning pinnacle of the bands' career and a true masterpiece. I could basically highlight all songs here, but if threatened at gunpoint, I would have to choose "Dark Path" for it's amazing chorus alone.

2015-09-11

Moonspell from Inferior to Prime: 12-10

I was very interested, quite intrigued and later inspired by AMG's excellent "From Worst to Best"-section he did with Iron Maiden. So much that I decided to the very same with some of the bands who's discography I am familiar with (more so than Maiden anyway). So this is my extremly personal "From Inferior to Prime" (since I assumed AMG copyrighted that other sentence). Anyway, I'm not the least ashamed to borrow stuff like this blantantly. Also, I now linked to the guy's site twice, so he should actually be glad ;-)

This is my personal From Inferior to Prime 12-10 feautring the pride of Portugal. 

#12. Alpha Noir (2012)


1. Axis Mundi
2. Lickanthrope
3. Versus
4. Alpha Noir
5. Em Nome Do Medo
6. Opera Carne
7. Love is Blasphemy
8. Grandstand
9. Sine Missione















Yeah, yeah, I know that 'Alpha Noir' and 'Omega White' are "siblings" and that I (sort of) reviewed them both together back in 2012. But since they are two albums that sound so very different between each other, it wouldn't be fair to judge them together. So I wont.

I gave this album 5 out of 10 in said review, but 3 years later, it hasn't exactly grown on me. Quite the contrary, I consider this the crappiest album Moonspell has ever released. Why is that you ask? Well, for one reason - I stand by the fact that it was a huge misstake to make one "aggressive" and one "soft" album. The beauty with the music of Moonspell is that they are so damn good at blending said aggressiveness with mellow parts. What you have here is 40 minutes of almost non-stop "modern metal" with keyboards and and screamed vocals. Usually, there's two or three songs on a weak Moonspell-album that at least gives the album some saving grace. 'Love is Blasphemy' is - apart from a very embarrassing song-title - almost an OK song and there are some parts in the instrumental outro 'Sine Missione' that almost makes the leap from OK to good. Almost. But those moments cannot save an album that have the wannabe-black metal that is 'Lickanthrope' or the "we-haven't-written-a-rock-n'-roll-song-before" that is 'Versus' - seriously THE WORST song Moonspell has ever written.


So the verdict is this: The riffs are boring, the melodies are non-memorable, the keyboards are uninspired and vocalist Fernando basically sounds tired. This is without a doubt the most inferior album these portugese lads ever have written.










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#11. Omega White (2012)
1. Whiteomega
2. White Skies
3. Fireseason
4. New Tears Eve
5. Herodisiac
6. Incantantrix
7. Sacrificial
8. A Greater Darkness














As with it's sibling above, there's few things that I can say that I already didn't say in my earlier review. It is a much slower and more mellow album than it's big-brother and it also has way more atmosphere and a total lack of screams. I still claim that 'Whiteomega' is more or less a soft copy of 'Scorpion Flower', but I seem to be alone in this claim. And 'White Skies', 'Fireseason' and 'A Greater Darkness' are those three redeeming songs that saves a mediocre Moonspell-album that I spoke about earlier. Even though they are just OK.


The album mixes slower songs with a bit more up-tempo ones, but most choruses are unmemorable and apart from the three that I already mentioned, the songs lack memorable melodies and most of the choruses are either so god damn bland ('Incantantrix') or downright embarrassing ('Herodisiac'). Although far from being as utter dull and pointless as 'Alpha Noir' was, 'Omega White' isn't exactly the summit of Moonspell's discography...



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#10. Darkness and Hope (2001)
1. Darkness and Hope
2. Firewalking
3. Nocturna
4. Heartshaped Abyss
5. DevilRed
6. Ghostsong
7. Rapaces
8. Made of Storm
9. How We Became Fire
10. Than the Serpents in my Arms
11. Os Senhores Da Guerra













When this was released back in 2001 I had discovered loads of other bands and grown kinda bored of Moonspell. I bought the album, listened to it a couple of times and more or less forgot about it completely. It has sort of always been the album in Moonspell's discography that I keep forgetting. For this section, I had to go back and listen to it in it's entirety for the first time again in god know's how many years. Will I keep forgetting about it in the future then?

Unfortunately, it still isn't a very good album. I don't know what the band thought when they decided to open an album with such a forgettable song as the title track is - it almost sounds as if Fernando is falling asleep whilst singing FFS! I remember that I enjoyed the hell out of 'Firewalking' back in the days and I still do - it is an extremely good song that is completely misplaced on this not-so-very-good album and thus, sadly forgotten. On the contrary, I never cared for 'Nocturna' at all back in the days - it just felt like a quickly written semi-ballad for teenage goths. Well maybe it is, but I actually like it's atmosphere and the hooks. I was surprised how good it sounded today. So, we're three songs into the album and we're looking at one snooze-fest and two songs way above average so far. Looks promising doesn't it? But 'Heartshaped Abyss' is an absolute travesty of a song without any direction whatsoever and a cringe-worthy chorus that leaves a sour aftertaste. 'DevilRed' quickly turn things around and is definitely one of the better songs on the album. But most of my praises stops there, both 'Ghostsong' and 'Rapaces' sounds unfinished and things only continue downhill from there. Sure, there are a few redeeming qualities in parts of 'How We Became Fire' and 'Than the Serpents in my Arms' but those are few and far between. If you did as I did back in 2001, and bought the limited box-edition, you could also get the opportunity to get your ears raped by a disgraceful cover of Ozzy Osbourne's 'Mr. Crowley'. What's even worse, is that said song is (probably) recorded or mixed elsewhere than the rest of the album, but having way more punch to the guitars and a much better drum sound as well.

'Darkness and Hope' is, together with #9 on my list (still to come) one the most uneven Moonspell-albums to date. I find it sad that songs such as 'Firewalking', 'Nocturna' and 'DevilRed' all are buried and forgot in this sea of mediocrity. The album as a whole is not very memorable at all and the production is far inferior to all their earlier works. Now that I re-visit it, I feel like it could have been so much better.



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Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 9-7
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 6-4
Moonspell From Inferior to Prime: 3-1

2015-05-26

A decade ago: 2005 in retrospect

Apparently, 2005 wasn't a very good album year in metal. At least not for me personally and this is what this blog is about. But there were at least a few gems amidst the layers of crap.

Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies
As I discussed in my review of the band's latest album, I don't care particularly for this album. It's definitely not bad per se, but compared to the rest of the tiny Arcturus-discography, it doesn't hold up. No song is flat out bad either, it's just that the album overall sounds a bit tedious and many of the songs tend to float into each other, making it difficult to remember what song you just heard. It's Arcturus though, so it's a lot better than most other metal records.

Recommended track: Difficult choice since they all kinda sound alike, but I'd have to go with "Evacuation Code Deciphered" since I love those lyrics so much.

Candlemass - Candlemass
Candlemass' best vocalist was Johan Längqvist who sang on their masterful debut album and that's a fact. Sure, they have a couple of solid tracks with the good old monk as well, but I have always been baffled as to why he always seems to be regarded as the Candlemass-singer. Anyway, 10 years ago, this band got together and recorded this here comeback album, which in reality isn't very special. There are a few good songs here, but this band made other albums both before and after this one that I consider more quintessential.

Recommended track: Again, there's a reason why "Black Dwarf" is the opener. It is that much better than the rest of the songs.

Falkenbach - Heralding - The Fireblade
If I have understood things correctly, this is sort of a re-recording of old tracks that either never were released, released on crappy demo-tapes, re-recorded etc. And it somewhat shows since some songs really sound teenage-like in their songwriting-approach. The new version of "The Heathenish Foray" is vastly superior to the original that can be found on "...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri" (1998), "Of Forests Unknown" and "Walkiesjar" are two other solid tracks where the band man effectively mixes Bathory-like viking metal with more modern sounding black metal. All in all, this is a very good album from Falkenbach, although not his best.

Recommended track: You guessed it, "Heathen Foray".

Lik - Besvärtade Strofer - Toner Från Gammelbyns Fäbodar
Lik was (is?) a one-man project from the guy behind the underrated Armagedda. The music is some sort of groovy folk/rock with black metal-influences. Does it sound weird? It isn't and it works extremely well for some bizarre reason. Think of Isengard but with better execution, more sincerity and a better vocalist and you're sort of there. Don't know what else to say other than the fact that this is easily amongst my top-5 albums of 2005.

Recommended track: They're all good, even the intro and instrumentals, but I guess that "Åkallelse" best demonstrates what this is about.

Lumsk - Troll
This was a way overhyped band when they released their debut album in 2003. I bought the hype as well and imagined that I liked said album. I took me a year or so to realize that it was quite ill-conceived and not very thought through. Needless to say, I had no expectations for the follow up but it is miles better than the debut, I can tell you that. This is classic folk metal with that nordic feel, albeit it sometimes feels too forced and they like to venture into the prog-swamp at times as well. They went full prog-retard on their third and final(?) album, so I guess we should've seen that coming. A couple of solid tracks on this album.

Recommended track: Easy decision, since "Perpålsa" with it's deep, dark vocals and groovy swing is the best song this band has ever done.

Månegarm - Vredens Tid
Once upon a time, I used to really dig this band a lot. Now I know better, even if I don't dislike this sort of music. It's just quite bland from time to time. "Vredens Tid" though, is easily Månegarm's best album with songs such as "Sigrblot", "Skymningsresa", "Dödens Strand" and their best work ever; "Hemfärd". That last song is something I still occasionally put on. Not much else to say about this, it's viking metal with good melodies but a lack of depth.

Recommended track: Hear hear! "Hemfärd".

Sentenced - The Funeral Album
As the album-title reveals, this was the swan song from the drunken Finns in Sentenced. They basically became a semi-boring goth metal (but with a thing for good melodies) band around 1996 and never looked back. Apart from their debut album (which was pure death metal), they have had an extremely uneven discography filled with peaks and valleys. "The Funeral Album" is no different as it mixes solid songs such as "May Today Become the Day", "Ever-Frost", "Vengeance is Mine" and "End of the Road" with crap such as "We are but Falling Leaves", "Her Last 5 Minutes", "Despair-Ridden Hearts" and "Drain Me". So there you have it. I miss these guys some days.

Recommended track: Yes indeed. "End of the Road" is the band's last song ever and it is also their most honest and soul-crushing.

Solefald - Red for Fire - An Icelandic Odyssey Part I
Ah, I'm feeling a bit bored now and at loss for what to write. I like Solefald as much as the next avantgarde-sucker, but I don't hold this album very high in their discography. It's part one of a concept album about vikings and Iceland, I think... There a couple of songs that stand out here, but they're nothing special if one compares to the rest of their discography. It's the usual avantgarde-weirdness but in reality, there's little new to offer here.

Recommended track: The insanity of "Survival of the Outlaw" is something I like.

Taake - Hordalands Doedskvad
I like Taake and their somewhat melodic take on tr00e Norwegian black metal and "Hordalands Doedskvad" might just be one of this band's' best, if not the best work. Had I reviewed this I would've given it several minus points for naming each of the tracks "Hordalands Doedskvad Part I" and so forth. There's no other excuse than laziness for such a thing and the band did it for their two previous albums as well. Honestly, if they have had proper song-titles, I think I would listen to this band a lot more.

Recommended track: When you start an album with the battle cry 'Helnorsk svartmetall!', you simply can't go wrong. So it's obviously called "Hordalands Doedskvad Part I".

The Vision Bleak - Carpathia - A Dramatic Poem
I found out about this band way too late, but for the last few years, I've been listening to them a lot. The Vision Bleak call themselves "horror metal" and that's a quite apt description since it's basically gothic/heavy metal with ominous keyboards and soundscapes. "Carpathia" is a concept album about god knows what, but that's not as important as the music itself. Sonically, this might not be the band's best work, but they tend to always release quite uneven albums, so that's okay. There are more hits than misses present here and this has to be one of my favourite albums of 2005.

Recommended track: "Secrecies in Darkness".

Thyrfing - Farsotstider
When this Bathory-esqué folk metal album was released, I was actually quite disappointed. I'm not really sure why, cause I hail this as the band's most solid work so far. Negativity is the keyword on this album and the Swedish lyrics just reek of death, demise and misery. There's really no weak track on the entire album and it flows like perfection. I think this just might have to be my absolute favourite album of 2005, so it feels good to end this ranting on a good note for once.

Recommended track: "Höst" is amazing in it's own way but so i also "Tiden Läker Intet".

2015-05-23

Review: Solefald - World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud

Band: Solefald
Album: "World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud"
Style: Avantgarde metal
Release date: 2015-02-02
Origin: Norway

Tracklist:
1. World Music with Black Edges
2. The Germanic Entity
3. Bububu Bad Beuys
4. Future Universal Histories
5. Le Soleil
6. 2011, or a Knight of the Fail
7. String the Bow of Sorrow
8. Oslo Melancholy

I hadn't originally planned on reviewing the latest output from Norway's eclectic duo Solefald. Not because I didn't like it, no because it was released almost four months ago and most people into this music have already either heard it or read about it elsewhere. But this is a very special album and I felt that I had to say something about it. So here I am, ranting on about the masterpiece that is "World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud".

Yeah, I guess it's a dead giveaway concerning what rating this album will get, but I just can't hide my feelings for this album. That's right - feelings. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt this way about music, first time I heard "Sear Me MCMXCIII" by My Dying Bride when I was 16 and the first time I heard "Svältvinter" by Vintersorg when I was 19 comes to mind though, as they also gave me that certain something. I'll admit I really enjoyed Solefald's last offering "Norrøn Livskunst" (2010) and it gave me a couple of eargasms back in the days. So I naturally had high hopes for this album, but I wasn't prepared to be this overwhelmed.

It all starts with what might be this year's best song - "World Music with Black Edges" - seriously, I can't think of any other band that manages to fit eurodisco into a metal song, without it seeming out of place. But Cornelius Jakhelln and Lars Are Nedland does just said thing. Tribal rhythms and weird soundscapes also enter this musical pallet and never has a song been so aptly titled. Lyric-wise it goes all over the place, but I just can't help but smiling at the incredible words penned by Jakhelln:
'In 2000 we wrote « Open the Black Metal Order » :
« There are no Blacks in Black Metal, the name must be an error
How did this temple of sound roar into being?
Who made it the tornado it is?
The bad kids are getting old but they what played is not
Open the Black Metal Order. This is pain immortalized
The future is said to be many things but I predict it to be Transatlantic
Who is able to carry on through? Who is able to stay courageous? »'

Musically, the album continues with melodies that glues to your brain, combined with sheer madness while the two vocalists sing, growl, scream and snarl all over the place. Naturally, it takes a couple of listens to even begin to comprehend what the hell is going on. Once you do, I hope this music sounds as sweet to your ears as it does to mine. Hell, even the obvious weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird-song "Bububu Bad Beuys" is amazing! Unlike "Tittentattenteksti" on it's predecessor, this one makes me smile and nod my head with the music. Think "black metal meets african drums" and you might have a clue as to what's going on.

While "Le Soleil" might be the album's weakest point, it isn't bad at all, it just lacks a certain feeling that the all the other songs do. And oh my, how the last trinity of songs on "World Metal" touched me deeply; When I first listened to "2011, or a Knight of the Fail", I immediately enjoyed it. After I had heard it a couple of more times, it felt like I knew it by heart, but after I read the lyrics the first time, the hair on my arms stood straight up and I felt shivers all through my body. One simply has to read the lyrics whilst listening to this song in order to fully appreciate it. It continues with the insanely emotional "String the Bow of Sorrow" where I my eyes started to tear up when I first heard it together with the lyrics. I think you get my point by now, so I really don't have anything wise to say about "Oslo Melancholy".

It has been quite difficult to write about this album I must say. Mainly because it's just so damn difficult to describe in words, one really has to listen to it. Now. I can't give "World Metal - Kosmopolis Sud" 10 out of 10 though. Why? Simply because the album isn't perfect, but very close though.

'I will leave you here, where you sat with your parents
On the simple wooden staircase
Where bumblebees hum and blackbirds sing
As the evening breeze sways the firs in the sunset
- Solefald'

RATING:
9.5/10


2015-05-22

Two decades ago: 1995 in retrospect

I always used to look back at 1995 as the year for me when it came to some of my favourite albums released. But how do I view this year now that I'm all grown up and boring? Has some of my favourite albums really aged that well or should I be butt-smashed for my inferior taste? Let's find out...

Anathema - The Silent Enigma
This used to be one my absolute favourite albums and I totally get why. I had just recently discovered this sort of metal but doom was still to slow for my taste. What this album does, is standing with one foot in doom metal and the other being firmly placed in the band's future, with more dreamlike atmosphere and (somewhat) faster pace. Though this is still really slow music and it honestly hasn't aged very well, especially Vincent's vocals which I find tedious at some points, though far from being bad.

Recommended track: When I do spin this album, it's always the first two and the last two tracks that gets any playtime. So I could choose either of those, but right now I'll go for the monumental "A Dying Wish".

Arckanum - Fran Marder
I didn't discover Arckanum until 2008's "Antikosmos", but this is where it all started. This is evil-sounding black metal that still somehow manages to be very nature romantic and atmospheric at the same time. It's very lo-fi (obviously) but intended to sound like that as well, so that's nothing to complain about. Had I heard this back in -95 I would probably have shat my pants in terror. Also, gotta love that album cover.

Recommended track: "Gava Fran Trulen" is a classic of course, but my favourite is easily the mid-tempo paced "Trulmælder" with it's weird female vocals in the chorus.

Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia
Symphonic black metal it is then. I've always considered this debut album from Arcturus to be more of a youthful reminder of the band's past rather than a real album that fits into the band's avantgarde-discography. Lately I've come to revise that opinion a bit. It sounds very early 90's in it's style and execution and if it weren't for the vocals and the odd Arcturusisms here and there, one could easily mistake this for an early album by Emperor or a later album from Dimmu Borgir. Thankfully Garm's vocals easily beats both Ihsahn's and Shagrath's, that's for sure. Some parts of this album I really like, some I don't. Simple as that.

Recommended track: Although I prefer the re-recorded version from "Disguised Masters" (1999), "Du Nordavind" is still the best track here.

At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul
If there's just one album that deserves the term classic, it's probably "Slaughter of the Soul". I like the album for what it is, even though the music could have been a bit more varied. But it's a melodic thrash/death-extravaganza with endless smash-hits and it still sounds relevant today. Legendary album is legendary if you know what I mean?

Recommended track: I have to chose only one? Oh, fuck it! Then I'll just go with the title track then. I love that song.


Darkthrone - Panzerfaust
I'm ducking before incoming shitstorms and evil fists as I'm writing these words, but to me, "Panzerfaust" is the epitome in the discography of Darkthrone. Here, all the previous elements came into fruition; sheer aggression, atmosphere, melody and vocal delivery. It is obviously a lo-fi production, but they're thankfully not going all "Transilvanian Hunger" (1994) on us. It's clear that the band had grown up a bit when they recorded "Panzerfaust" compared to the previous albums. If you've never cared particularly for Darkthrone earlier, try this album and it just might change your mind. It sure did for me.

Recommended track: For me, there are three tracks that are outstanding on this album; "En Vind Av Sorg", "The Hordes of Nebulah" and "Hans Siste Vinter" - try them all.

Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane
Another classic melodic black metal album. It took me years of neglect and scorn before I finally realized just how good of an album "Storm of the Light's Bane" is. Jon might have been a satanic madman and an accomplice to murder, but by Satan how gifted he was when it came to writing memorable melodies and all things considered catchy. Sprinkled by his spitting voice of razor blades, this is album is to melodic black metal what "Slaughter of the Soul" was to melodic death metal - a real classic!

Recommended tracks: All are classics (except for the intro and outro of course), but the one that always makes the hair on my arms stand is "Retribution: Storm of the Light's Bane".

In the Woods... - HEart of the Ages
I never liked this album when I bought it back in the days and I still don't today. The music can best be described as melodic black metal with dreamlike atmospheres, avantgarde-elements and insane screams that really destroys whatever feeling could've been. Except for the title track which I still count as a very good song to this day. This band was so much better when they focused on clean vocals, which they thankfully figured out themselves when they released "Ominio" in 1997. That album is great. This one isn't.

Recommended track: As I wrote, the title track is really all that matters.

Iron Maiden - The X Factor
I'm not actually the best person when it comes to discussing Iron Maiden, especially during the Blaze-era. But hey, it always pisses someone off so why don't take a shot right? To put it blunt, Bruce outsings Blaze in every way possible, but since everybody already knows that, what else should I say? Well, it's a dark album, at least in Maiden-measurements so I get why a vocalist with a lower register than Bruce's was considered for this album. Musically, Iron Maiden has done a shitload of way better albums than this and everyone knows that as well. It's far from a disaster though, I just wonder why anyone in their right mind would rather listen to this than "Piece of Mind" (1983), "Powerslave" (1984) or "Somewhere in Time" (1986)?

Recommended track: Well, the single  "Man on the Edge" has cool melodies but is totally ruined by Blaze's vocal melodies. "Sign of the Cross" is a much better song and has an epic feel to it, but would probably have been better with Bruce anyway.

IsengardHøstmørke
Folk metal in it's purest form, without any flutes or violins. I am pretty sure all the songs here are Darkthrone-leftovers that were considered too melodic for said band. Fenriz's nationalistic vein really shows here, and he is dangerously close to drop over the ledge and go all cartoonish on us. Mostly he manages to balance on the edge and it's great on tracks such as "Neslepaks" and "Over De Syngende Øde Moer", but when his drunken vocals says 'Fuck you all!' over a monotone keyboard in "I Eí Gran Bortí Nordre Åsen", it is difficult to not start laughing out loud. As said, you have to appreciate "bad" vocals and lo-fi production in order to fully be able to digest "Høstmørke". I appreciate those things some days. Some days I just find it plain dumb.

Recommended track: The word "skapelsen" (creation) backwards is spelled "Neslepaks" - so there you go!

My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River
I have listened to this album more times than can be considered healthy and thus, I know it inside out. To me, it certainly is a classic album, but I can understand why some people have a hard time accepting vocalist Aaron's weeping vocals and the lack of growls on a doom/death album. The band had here moved further from pure doom, even though most of the songs still are slow as hell, but they have added so much atmosphere it's almost ridiculous. This album bleeds atmosphere and even though it might sound a little dated today, it's nothing that removes the overall impact it had on me as a young boy. And the bride is still dying...

Recommended track: All songs except the utterly boring "Cry of Mankind" are great, especially the lovely "Two Winters Only" - that song is going to be in my life forever.

Mörk Gryning - Tusen År Har Gått
Another melodic black metal to the reaper. And melody is definitely the word to emphasize here. Mörk Gryning ("Dark Dawn" - yes, it sounds equally silly in Swedish) basically consisted of teenages at this time and it sometimes shows, even though I mostly am impressed by the songwriting quality on this debut album. "Tusen År Har Gått" is a solid work, but there were better melodic black metal albums released this year, for sure.

Recommended track: Sometimes, there's a reason why band's choose a certain track as the opener and this is no exception. "Journey" it is.

Storm - Nordavind
One guy who was exceptionally active in the year of 1995 was good old Fenriz. This is his third album on this retrospective list. Storm is basically a more "serious" version of Isengard, with less emphasis on black metal and even more nature romantic and nationalistic in sound. This is both good and bad, depending on what mood you're in. And why on earth is "Noregsgard" basically a folk-metal copy of Darkthrone's "Quintessence" from the album released the same year? Has no one ever asked Fenriz about this? Also, this album contains the classic anti-christian theme "Oppi Fjellet". Good for giggles.

Recommended track: I like most tracks here but choose "Villemann" if you're into Fenriz' drunkenness and "Langt Borti Lia" if you want to hear more from the beautiful voice of Kari Rueslåtten.

Theatre of Tragedy - Theatre of Tragedy
Once upon a time, I was a real sucker for all things gothic and metal combined and Theatre of Tragedy was a band that could fulfill just that. For one album at least. And I'm of course rambling on about their second album "Velvet Darkness They Fear" (1997) and no this debut. Both albums uses the same formula; male growls vs. weak female vocals (from the most overrated woman in metal) all based on a layer doom metal with loads and loads of keyboards, but the successor managed to take those ingredients and craft solid songs. This one has only two of those...

Recommended track: ...and those are "A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal" and even more so, "Dying - I Only Feel Apathy".

Therion - Lepaca Kliffoth
This is another album that I was really into as young, but compared to the one just above here, I still listen to "Lepaca Kliffoth" on occasions. Sure, it sounds really dated when you listen to it in 2015, but I cannot deny that there are some really strong songs here. Also, I like this version of Therion the best - when they used keyboards instead of orchestras, when the vocals was a combo of Christoffer's semi-growls and Piotr's deep drunken voice. Some minor orchestrations and soprano vocals are found here, but they blend in so good with the rest of the music that it only adds flavour. This is basically keyboard-driven heavy metal with elements of gothic- and doom metal. Easily this band's best album.

Recommended track: I have loads of favourites here, but the winner has to be "Evocation of Vovin".

Ulver - Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler
Another album that is really considered a classic by many people. Not by me I tell you. I don't get that nature romantic feeling that I know they aimed for. To me, this mostly sounds like Dimmu Borgir's "Stormblåst" but with a lot of cringe-worthy clean vocals. It's mid-paced black metal that really isn't something special. At all. Sure, there are parts here and there that gives me hope for a minute or so, but then it's all destroyed by a tedious riff or boring melody. I don't get this album and I don't think that I ever will. Sorry, but Ulver and I will probably never be close friends.

Recommended track: Not really, but at least "Een Stemme Locker" is short, to the point and has beautiful acoustic guitars that reminds me of Empyrium's "Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays" (1999). Check that album out instead!

Unanimated - Ancient God of Evil
Dissection and Mörk Gryning weren't the only Swedish bands that released melodic black metal albums this year. Naglfar did it as well. Oh, and Unanimated too. In reality, this perhaps borders a bit more on the melodic side of death metal but who cares. If you're familiar with any of the other bands I just wrote, then chances are good that you'll also enjoy "Ancient God of Evil" with it's amusing cover art. This is a quite uneven album in my opinion, with some amazing songs and some tracks that doesn't really feel finished.

Recommended track: "Life Demise" is a fucking classic (dat melody!) and you owe it to yourself to learn the lyrics and sing along. My favourite part is where he's supposed to sing the word 'visions' but end up clearly saying 'wisions'. So many Swedes have trouble with differentiating between v and w.

Okay, I am seriously off-topic now. But was 1995 really such a good album year that I've always considered it? I still have to say yes to that question. Some of the albums listed above are still large favourites for me and add to that Moonspell's amazing "Wolfheart" and Paradise Lost's breakthrough album "Draconian Times" (these two albums are scheduled to be dissected in other sections in the future and therefore wasn't listed here) and I'm even more sure. I thought of adding more albums that are considered classics, such as "Demanufacture" by Fear Factory, "Mandylion" by The Gathering, "Infidel Art" by Sigh and "Amok" by Sentenced, but I felt that I wasn't really qualified enough to write anything on those albums.