Review Summary: Once again we are under the moonspell...
Moonspell have always been a polarizing band. They have many diehard fans all over the world, people who adore everything that Fernando Ribeiro and his band have created since their inception in the early 90`s till today, even with the drastic changes experimented on the music the band has put out. On the other hand, there`s a lot of people that seriously hate this band, calling them a joke, a summun of cheesiness and gothic cliches. Maybe they are partially right, but one thing is for sure: Moonspell know how to make exciting music, despite of the cheesiness, and with Extinct they prove it again, delivering and album softer than its three predecessors, but powerful enough to be considered one of their finest efforts.
Stylistically, the album has reminiscences of Sin/Pecado, Darkness and Hope and The Antidote, but the band manages to avoid the major flaws of those records, with an admirable musicianship that allows them to create beautiful tunes and a haunting and brooding atmosphere, although sometimes is a bit over the top, mainly because of the accentuated use of the keyboards. Ribeiro´s harsh vocals are great as always, and his clean singing is more polished and subtle, leaving behind the exaggerated baritone chanting, and the almost laughable vampiric aura showed in albums like the ridiculously cheesy Wolfheart. Without abandoning the marks that distinguish them in the gothic metal scene like sexual references, the malignant beauty incarnated by some sort of femme fatale and the nihilism acquired as an attitude in life, this album is lighter, not only in its overall sound, but also in its messages, despite of the apocalyptic title. Song titles like Extinct, Medusalem, A Dying Breed and The Future is Dark do not announce anything hopeful actually, but something about them shows the wilt to keep pushing onward into life. I think that the post-punk vibe that is present on most of the songs can be deceitful as their darkness is derived from a special sensibility that does not give up with life, even with its dark horizons. Songs like Until We Are No More and the deliciously odd La Baphomette can show us this kind of thinking when we read between lines, which is something that should be done with the Moonspell lyrics. They can be really good or bad and pretentious depending on the album, but in this case, they are deep and identifiable in their own simplicity.
The album is very catchy, and almost every song has a prominent chorus and is backed with some orchestral arrangements, but the musicians avoid the self-indulgence for the most part, with one or two exceptions like the ballad the Last of Us, which didn´t seem really convincing. The production is great and the ordering of the songs is very nice, providing a good flow, making the album easy to listen, but also immersive. This is a work of maturity, and although the black metal influences are always well received in a Moonspell album, the less-metal oriented path that they started to follow again is promising. At the least their first step on it, without being earthshaking, helps them to stand as one of the most prominent gothic bands in the recent history. I dare to contradict them and say that their future is not dark, but if they need to believe it to keep making great music, we can only be thankful to that darkness as long as it can be a source of inspiration.