Review Summary: One of the more amusing albums I've ever heard, too bad it wasn't supposed to be taken that way.
Moonspell are kind of a strange band to me. I’ve heard every album in their back catalog and most of them have been extremely inconsistent with more bad traits then good. It’s not that I don’t like this kind of music because I really do, and it’s not that I can’t stomach over-the-top cheese-goth lyrics because I count myself as a Cradle of Filth
and Dimmu Borgir
fan, so I definitely can. The problem is that on this album the different elements are so hokey that they almost feel like they’re supposed to be a satirical take on the whole genre, but the band doesn’t mean this as a joke at all. What’s worse is that this album, Wolfheart
, is supposed to be the one that started all the hype surrounding them, and while it is one of their more creative outputs, it is also one of their worse.
While no one element is entirely responsible for the laughable nature of this album, a large part of the blame can be placed on the vocals. The problem doesn’t lie with all the vocal styles because the black metal growls are great as always; it’s the deep goth vocals that are the joke here. The vocalist tries so hard to sing in a deep voice that they end up sounding forced, flat, and, hysterically bad. If you could imagine someone trying to jokingly emulate Peter Steele of Type O Negative
then you’d have a good general idea of what to expect. Great examples of this can be found on most of the songs, but especially “Midnight Ride” and even more so on “Trebaruna”.
“Trebaruna” sounds like Moonspell’s attempt at a rock opera. Musically this song isn’t bad, it is mid-paced with a ripping main riff, rhythmic percussion, a catchy guitar melody during the verses, and a unique sounding keyboard melody, but the vocals ruin it all. The vocalist attempts to sing in a deep, operatic, style and fails miserably. It’s not just the bad vocal pitch that ruins this; it’s also the rhythmic way that they’re sung which makes them sound like some pirate sing-along. When that song mercifully ends it seems to be readily apparent that it will end up being the worst of the album, but it’s not.
The worst track on the album goes to the hilariously over-the-top vampire song called, “Vampiria”. The stage is set from the beginning with oh-so-scary keyboards and the vocalist doing his best deep Transylvanian accent. It should come as no surprise that the chorus introduces backing female vocals while the vocalist continues saying “Vampiria” in his best accent. There is a break from the terrible goth parts in the form of another mid-paced black metal section, but it’s too little, too late and is still plagued by juvenile vampire lyrics (are there any other kind"). The song ends with a woman’s scream which finishes off the checklist of required stereotypes for a goth song.
The only reason that this album receives a 2.5 instead of a 2 or possibly lower is because a lot of the music is ok despite the bad vocals and cheesy keyboards. Most of the music takes the form of mid-paced gothic rock songs with a heavy black metal influence. The riffs and guitar melodies are generally catchy and the drummer is very rhythmic in the way he presents the beats, rarely ever sticking with a typical rock structure. Also the last two songs are actually pretty good with “An Erotic Alchemy” consisting of nothing but keyboards, drums and vocals (with rare guitar parts). The keyboard melodies are expertly done, and the female vocals are very operatic, leaving only the same issue with the deep vocals that have already been discussed earlier. The closing track is really good due to it being almost entirely black metal-based with minimal clean singing. It has a catchy main riff, more rhythmic percussion, and the only good vocal style on the album.
While listening to this album I can’t help alternating between cringing and laughing at the music, and especially the vocals coming out of my speakers. I can’t see how people thought that this album was any kind of peak in quality within the realm of goth or black metal. This album is full of almost every stereotype that has ever ruined a black metal or goth album from over-the-top cheesy lyrics, to scary B-movie keyboard parts, to exaggerated vocals. Even if you’ve heard any other album by Moonspell I’d still recommend that you stay away from this one as it is the low point in their melding of gothic rock and black metal.