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Moonspell The Antidote

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Tuesday, February 3, 2004 @ 11:26 PM


(Century Media)

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In one sentence: Moonspell is the harder, Mediterranean cousin of Type O Negative.

Hailing from the underrated tourist-friendly land of intrepid whalers and sailors, Port Wine and Madeira, hot and spicy sausages and the heritage and language of many South Americans: Portugal’s goth-metal export Moonspell bring the drum-crazy esoteric darkwave rock back with it’s most accessible CD thus far.

With Flamenco guitars, layered electric guitars, slow trance-like stomping dirges and deep vocals courtesy of frontman/lyricist Fernando Ribeiro, The Antidote offers shimmering textures of doom-and-gloom rock mixed with straight-out of the box hard rock. Like their spiritual forerunners from Brooklyn, they borrow liberally from Sabbath, Bauhaus, The Swans, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Tea Party, The Sisters Of Mercy and Wolfsheim; as well as elements of thrash and death metal. Poetic and mournful, and wholly beautiful, they are the aural version of an Anton Cobijn photo of an Edward Hopper painting.

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The principle difference between Type O and Moonspell is that Type O’s Pete Steele has a canny pop-sensibility with often-funny lyrics, even when he’s way, way down. Moonspell’s Ribeiro writes like he not only lost the love of his life, but his family, his dog, his cat, his pet bird and his Peter Murphy bootlegs. This guy is bummin’ out, and it comes across in his words and his vocals -- and, ultimately, the music. All of it is stellar, and makes one almost feel guilty for spying on him in his moment of sorrow. This is the new Keats/Shelly/Byron of post-millennium dark-romantic poetry. And, PS -- it rocks!

From the lead-off, “In And Above Men,” one can hear the anger and rage and lament, poured over some twisting, squealing rock and hammered out with a rhythm section that would make Norwegian Black-metallers smile in admiration.

Track 3, “Everything Invaded,” is a perfect example of angst and misery made gorgeous. The next one, “The Southern Deathstyle,” is a hard slammin’, throaty whispered song, with a kind of death-metal growl on the chorus. Somber and sweet, the barking chorus belies the rock within.

One of the foremost aspects of this disc, and of Moonspell, is their tight musicianship and production. There are times, (“Crystal Gazing” stands out), when it sounds like there is literally a wall of guitars. A band like this deserves stand-out production, and The Antidote caters to its strengths. Keyboards are not a silly instrument for pop-radio: they are a necessity in creating atmosphere, and Moonspell knows how to create atmosphere like a goth-Pottery Barn.

Much like some of Moonspell’s finest work, Sin/Pecado, and The Butterfly Effect, The Antidote survives Inquisition on the merits of its parts as a whole. They’ll never be The Darkness or Poison -- this is the music to play when you’ve swallowed the poison and the darkness comes. If Glenn Danzig ever gets married, these guys should play the reception.

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