Concertedly walking their own path since 1992 from the relative isolation of their native Portugal, with a lineup virtually unchanged since 1995’s Wolfheart debut, Moonspell long ago earned a reputation for moving in new directions at their own restless pace and refusing to pander or stagnate creatively.
Consequently their trajectory may have seemed a little wayward over the years, but always informed by a distinctive dark, emotive flair that currently seems on top form.
Moonspell’s last release, the double-set Alpha Noir/Omega White, separated the band’s main elements – fiery extreme metal and bleary-eyed pop-savvy goth – into distinct, complementary parts; reuniting these signature modes on Extinct, Moonspell have crystallised what they’re best at, from the shifting, surging drama of ace opener Breathe (Until We Are No More) to the closing strains of quirky funeral jazz singalong La Baphomette.
Medusalem is playful and upbeat, with crunchy staccato riffs bounced up against jaunty Arabian harmonies and a Bela Lugosi’s Dead croak, while Domina tugs the heartstrings with its impassioned, windswept beauty and epic, forlorn guitar solos.
Although Extinct doesn’t reinvent any wheels, it’s an assured and definitive showcase for where Moonspell are at in 2015, which is pretty near the top of their game./o:p