Moonspell - Alpha NoirA new album by Moonspell is always something to look forward to. I’m something of a recent convert after seeing this dark metal outfit live at the Waldrock festival (RIP) back in 2007, it’s been a passionate love affair ever since. “Night Eternal” (2008), their last album, is still a great record by any stretch imagination. With that in mind I’m curious where Fernado Ribeiro and Co gone next on “Alpha Noir”, the first Moonspell album in four years.

“Night Eternal” is a tough act to follow, because it captures Moonspell on all its dark majestic might. The band could have chosen to continue on the same path, however “Alpha Noir” is altogether quite a different animal. The familiar dark gothic atmosphere and Ribeiro’s deep growls and passionate clean vocals are still there, but the biggest difference comes in the way the songs themselves are constructed. Compared to the previous album the songs are leaner and more streamlined. All the excess drama and lush arrangements have significantly reduced in favour of a more song orientated approach.

“Alpha Noir” may lack some of the depth and the rich textures of its illustrious predecessor. However, you’ll get a batch of incredibly well-constructed and catchy songs in return. Tracks like ‘Versus’, ‘Opera Carna’ and ‘Love Is Blasphemy’ are almost, dare I say, danceable. This album features some very tasty guitar leads, especially on “En Nome Do Medo” and the title track. As with many Moonspell albums the devil is in the details. “Alpha Noir” may be catchy as hell, but it still takes several listening sessions before it’s true essence is revealed. It’s still Fernando Ribeiro’s deep and warm clean vocals that truly gives Moonspell its magic touch. In that regard “Alpha Noir” is no exception to this rule.

This album is blessed with a heavy and very guitar-driven sound, thanks to the capable hands of Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquility). It’s really gives “Alpha Noir” the punch and aggression it thrives on.

“Alpha Noir” by Moonspell is a great album with a bucket load of insanely catchy songs. It may lack the depth and the majestic grandeur of “Night Eternal”, but I’m sure many of the tracks are potential live staples. One word of caution though, I just don’t hope Ribeiro and Co don’t go all Lacuna Coil on the next couple of albums…

Moonspell – Alpha Noir