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Moonspell - "Extinct" (CD)

Moonspell - "Extinct" CD cover image

"Extinct" track listing:

1. Breathe (Until We Are No More)
2. Medusalem
3. Funeral Bloom
4. Domina
5. La Baphomette
6. The Last of Us
7. A Dying Breed
8. Malignia
9. Extinct
10. The Future Is Dark
11. La Baphomette

Reviewed by on February 27, 2015

"A highly varied and vibrant release, 'Extinct' shows both a new side of Moonspell and a nod to the band's sound of decades past."

There was a big question mark around this album after the focus shift on the previous full-length, especially when the first single released for “Extinct” was the head-scratching love ballad “The Last Of Us.” To set the record straight for anyone wondering, the era of “Night Eternal” and “Memorial” is long over, and its unlikely it will be coming back anytime soon. That being said, “Extinct” is still a solid album that stands on its own, and shows a much different side of Moonspell than has been seen in about a decade.

The mix of symphonic atmosphere with Gothic metal is significantly different this time around, and frequently creates a feel fans will recognize from the “Darkness and Hope” or “Irreligious” era. The disc overall exudes a youthful, '90s-style vibe, with much more guitar soloing. Between the multiple soft tracks, the sudden style shift on tracks like “Medusalem” (see what they did there?), and the avant-garde ending track, this may actually be the most diverse full-length Moonspell has ever released.

While the opening trio of tracks give you very strong new Moonspell material that balances the heavy and soft, the second half to even perhaps two-thirds of the disc are definitely less on the extreme side. The aforementioned “The Last Of Us” is an odd bird for sure, but if you can remember back to tracks like “Heartshaped Abyss” or “Devilred” from “Darkness and Hope,” you'll recall this isn't Moonpsell's first foray into love ballads that mix with Gothic metal. The keyboards in the background perhaps take it too far into cheesy territory though, which is a problem repeated on “The Future Is Dark.” If the band had just dropped the over-the-top chimes in the background, that track would actually work really well.

“Funeral Bloom” is an interesting track in that it keeps things more melodic and soft, but the catchiness factor is at full power, so the song can easily get stuck in the head. The back end of the album is then broken up by “A Dying Breed,” which takes things back into heavier territory. Ending “Extinct” is “La Baphomette,” an Oblomov-style song with piano and chorus chants that bring to mind a swing club stage show.

The direction of the symphonic elements is very different this time around, and less brooding than in the past, with almost a “big band” tone in several of the songs (although to be clear, Moonspell hasn't gone all Diablo Swing Orchestra on you just quite yet). A highly varied and vibrant release, “Extinct” shows both a new side of Moonspell and a nod to the band's sound of decades past. How much you'll dig the album really depends on how much you prefer the extreme side of the group though, as from “Domina” onward the disc is much more toned down than what was heard on “Alpha Noir” or “Night Eternal.”

Highs: Moonspell has a vibrant and re-energized feel here, with both new tactics and old standbys represented.

Lows: The album is positively loaded with love ballads, and in a few of them the cheesiness factor is just too high.

Bottom line: Moonspell changes tone from recent work, with a bigger focus on the melodic side.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)