Originally written by Tim Pigeon
It’s how the same old thing can look in a different light. I was first introduced to Portugal’s Moonspell last year with their release Darkness and Hope. Apparently, it did not move me very much, because all I can remember of that album is disliking the monotone clean vocals. Fast forward a year and a new Moonspell release fell into my lap, and I’m pleased to say that I’m enjoying it.
The Antidote is a solid gothic metal release, featuring all those trademark characteristics that you’ve come to expect from the genre – keyboards, atmosphere, low clean vox alternating with a nice growl, and a hefty helping of melancholy.
At the core of it all is quality guitar work, which is complemented by inventive, mid-paced drumming. Fernando Ribeiro focuses a lot of his energy on his capable death vox, but at the same time, the cleans that rubbed me the wrong way are still around. Fortunately for me, they are a bit less prominent in the mix.
The production fits this album well and the musicianship is up-to-par, but there are a few too many moments where the song goes nearly silent, with only a slow drum beat or vocal passage coming through.
The Antidote opens up in strong fashion with three fine tracks in a row. “In and Above Man” sees Moonspell get heavy with a thick and juicy chorus, changing gears towards the end into a drum-oriented outro. “From Lowering Skies” takes awhile to develop, with a light and funky drum beat driving the performance, while the aggression takes a back seat. Here you get a first glimpse of Moonspell’s skillful melodic leads.
Next up is the song from the first video off of this album, “Everything Invaded”. It’s not often that a metal band chooses to produce a video for the best song on an album, but in this case, Moonspell has. This song carries a true gothic metal vibe and it features a brutal vocal performance, complemented by music that’s crushing yet somber.
“Crystal Gazing”, while less intense, is worthy enough to demand a listen. “As We Eternally Sleep On It” even brings to mind the first Rapture album (Futile) in the guitar department.
The Antidote caught me off-guard and turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. If you thought Darkness and Hope was too weak for your liking, do not write off this album, as it’s changed my opinion of the band considerably. As the Autumn draws near, I expect that many metalheads’ tastes turn towards the darker side of things – right where this album falls. If you’re still not convinced, the American heads can check them out with Type-O and Cradle of Filth this month and into November. Nice work.