Moonspell - _The Antidote_
(Century Media, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (
It's hard to believe that seven albums into their illustrious career, there are still those that bemoan the Portuguese's departure from the gothic black metal of _Under the Moonspell_ and _Wolfheart_ and subsequent ascent into the more accessible sounds showcased on 1998's _Sin/Pecado_ and 2001's _Darkness & Hope_. The fact that in retrospect said departure was already ushered in on the unanimously acclaimed _Irreligious_ effort -- their second full-length -- is perhaps proof enough that much of the criticism Moonspell have had to endure borders on the ignorant. Certainly from a personal standpoint, I have found the progression on every successive release to be quite refreshing and with the exception of the dogged experimentation of 1999's _The Butterfly Effect_ I have yet to hear a Moonspell record that did not appeal to me on some level.Those expecting a return to the old with Moonspell's latest effort might as well therefore skip to the next review, because there clearly is no chance of this happening anytime soon. What is irrefutable though is that once again, Fernando Ribeiro and Co have succeeded in creating an exciting and perhaps their most challenging record to date. Starting off with the surprisingly heavy "In and Above Men", Moonspell are in top form from the start, and the welcome return of Waldemar Sorytcha to the producer's chair clearly pays immediate dividends, as a lone Mediterranean-like drum pattern leads into a the superb "From Lowering Skies". Musically, while still deeply rooted in dark, gothic aesthetics, the first half of _The Antidote_ is perhaps the most brutal work to be found on any Moonspell record, and indeed for the first three songs Ribeiro all but completely forsakes his baritone croon in favour of his trademark guttural roar. The title track ushers in the second, and clearly more subdued half of the record with a simple acoustic sequence that, again, is unlike anything Moonspell have offered before, while the subtlety of "Lunar Still" showcases the band at arguably their most haunting and effective. And where the first single of the record, "Everything Invaded", may be somewhat unconvincing, _The Antidote_ chooses to save best for last with the up-tempo swirl of "Crystal Gazing" and the moody "As We Eternally Sleep on It".While I can unfortunately not comment on the input of renowned author José Luis Peixoto into the grand concept that supposedly threads through the record due to the lack of a lyric sheet accompanying my promo, from a musical standpoint _The Antidote_ is superb -- and though it is certain to draw its own share of detractors, it stamps down with some authority that Moonspell are well ahead of anyone in their genre.
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