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.