Moonspell's latest outing delivers!

What can we expect from these foreign metallers? Based on their past, a rather extreme black metal act is the most likely of scenarios. It is with no small sense of trepidation that I sit down in my comfy chair, lights turned down low with the CD player set to full bass.

We are treated to a significant wail in the first 5 seconds of this album. Already, you get the feeling this is more a soundtrack to a movie - it's that dramatic. There's plenty of organs mixed in with both quiet, spoken vocals, building up to plenty of shouting later on, with the usual speed drumming. About 2 minutes in we get to the meat of the track and we are back in familiar territory.

The mixing of organs works well throughout the album, though Moonspell don't take it ostentatious levels. The same can be said with the little litany at the beginning of album, the growling and indeed any of the sound throughout. It's well balanced and seems not to grate on my nerves.

Moonspell remind me of Cradle of Filth and Type-O-Negative although without the formers high squealing. The sound from Moonspell is much more nordic sounding, despite being from Portugal. Unlike other black metal acts, I'm not actually hating this. Generally, there seems little in the way of rhythm or purpose to extreme metal though this nicely flows from hard to fast to soft to hard again.

"Scorpion Flower" smacks of Within Temptation and perhaps Lacuna Coil, with it's dual female and male vocals. It's certainly not what I'd call black metal though it certainly retains it's gothic edge. Certainly, Moonspell have lived up to their claim of adding a little more melody to their gothic onslaught. Sure, there's still some growling, screaming and blazingly fast riffs and rolls but the album has a little more variety than most; "Moon in Mercury" certainly picks up from where "Scorpion Flower" left off.

Despite the deliberate down play and minor chords, the music still sounds hard. It's certainly not dreary; we still have that metal edge which I feel is the main strength of Moonspell. Overall this album smacks of a refined, mature band with plenty of darkness still remaining to pour over our demented souls. It's gothic, it's mean, it flows well and even these metallers who aren't really a fan of the genre will enjoy this.