Words by Stephanie Fothergill
Moonspell’s twelfth record 1755 begins with a beautifully haunting, sombre doom opening and classic solemn vocals before leading into the classical influence breaking through to majestic symphonic metal that is the gothic elegance of Moonspell.
These portugese dark metallers blend intricate elements seamlessly creating a powerful work of art reflecting on the tragedy of the 1755 Libson earthquake. This musical tribute to a tragic historic event culturally significant to the Libson born band evokes its own unique story influenced by the learned heritage and the music creates a journey through time back to the medieval era where horror struck their native soil. The listener is transported to another world, witnessing the tragedy and feeling it through every chord in the music and sorrow filled vocals. Through the album the guitar ranges from poignant to lively with a powerful orchestral backing. The contrast of Fernando Ribeiro’s death metal growls and the high pitch choir compliments each other in their depth of range. Epic guitar intertwined with upbeat orchestral shows a distinct movement away from the melodic gothic doom sound Moonspell once had. The perfect blend of orchestra and choir with death metal for a superb atmospheric and emotive symphonic metal masterpiece, lovers of symphonic metal this one is a must for you, as long as you don’t mind vocals that aren’t English. I find the Portuguese sung vocals add to the atmosphere of the songs and further tribute the heritage and history of Libson and the nation shaking event of 1755. “In Fear of God” features vocals from Paulo Bragança, providing a further range in vocal styles and again fusing the elements to create an eerie fear invoking feel, imitating the fear of the times as people struggled with loss and devastation.
Even if you were not a fan in the past, this latest album, 1755, is worth checking out, moving Moonspell into a new era with this ten song epic heavier-than-ever symphonic journey. The lyrics, when translated to English, read poetically of sorrow, fear and anger towards God present themselves, as the betrayal felt of the people of the times, faith wavered in a disaster that killed so many. The choir emphasizes this religious element, as the people questioned what they did wrong and why their god had forsaken them. As the album progresses so too does the tale, hope rising from the drowning city as a new Libson is born, the orchestra providing the perfect soundtrack to evoke this triumph of rebirth. Although pleasing to the ear in the Portuguese tongue, take the time out to read the translated lyrics to really understand what the songs are about and make the most out of this creative homage.
The striking cover art melds a city in flames, crosses in rubble and countless little details in a silhouette of a person without a head and inlayed images of burning debris. The art turns the tragedy into a stunning multi leveled brilliance, incorporating several elements to visualize the atmosphere the album creates in a single scene.