Alpha Noir
Style: Dark Metal
Release date: 27 April, 2012
Playing time: 40:38

If you head out on YouTube and watch the video for the song Lickanthrope, it tells you a story; It tells you a story of band that doesn't do things half-heartedly. It tells you a story of a band that puts life and soul into creating not only art, but also entertainment for you and me. The Lickanthrope video is a work of art in its own right, an amazing video which combines a From Dusk Till Dawnesque scenery with dark metal music.

Portuguese Moonspell have always been good at the visuals, but it is of course the music which fundamentally carries it all. Since the very beginning during the early nineties, Moonspell never have been prone to doing things quite the way others did it. They did black metal, but with their own particular touch. They moved into folky death goth with 'Wolfheart' and made a big impression on many a metal fan back in 1995 (yours truly included) when the Portuguese touch was added to the metal landscape.

With 'Irreligious' and 'Sin/Pecado' Moonspell yet again entered unchartered ground as well as the charts. After that, dark knights around charismatic front man Fernando Ribeiro gradually returned to a harder style, even if the experimentation and the occasional pop or rock element never disappeared.

Same can be said of the new hammer album, 'Alpha Noir'. The album opener, Axis Mundi, is a good example: Heavy as sh*t riffing, Fernando doing both growls and his infamous baritone which I wager can make any proper goth chick wet in a second.

The aforementioned Lickanthrope follows suit with aggression and speed. It represents the more straightforward tunes of the album and is probably the most death metal-influenced track.

Versus is one of the grooviest pieces on 'Alpha Noir'. Includes drum patterns which sound a lot like Rammstein. Very cool.

The title track is a heads-down metal rocker with melodic guitar figures and keys on top of a rather simple but also extremely effective rhythm guitar. Bang that head that doesn't bang!

With En Nome Do Medo (Portuguese for 'In the Name of Fear'), bassist Aires would like to show us that he, indeed, also knows how to kick off a song. A great mid-tempo tune with a big, big sound.

More big sound can be in the grooving rocker Opera Carne. Superb riffing. Heavy, dark and yet with a light side to it. Right now, this is my candidate for the position as the best tune of 'Alpha Noir'.

If I were to point at the most ordinaire song of the album, Love Is Blasphemy would probably be the one that impresses the least. Don't get me wrong; it's a good song by any means, just not as fantastic as the other eight.

Grandstand for example rings a lot better with me with its more straightforward heaviness and melodic soloing and acoustic mid-piece.

The digi-pack version of 'Alpha Noir' comes with a complete instrumental CD called 'Omega White'. Sadly this isn't included in the promo material I have received, but if I'm to trust what I read, the last track  on the album proper, Sine Missione, more or less leads to 'Omega White'. Excellent stuff, I tell you.

I for one can't wait to get my hands on the 'Alpha Noir/Omega White' release!

01. Axis Mundi
Alpha Noir
Em Nome Do Medo
Opera Carne
Love Is Blasphemy
Sine Missione
Label: Napalm Records
Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 80/100
Reviewed by: Thomas Nielsen
Date: 23 April, 2012