Let’s get the production out of the way. By this point, one would expect the production to be perfect on a Moonspell album. This new release doesn’t disappoint. Everything is well-balanced, the vocals and guitars are in the forefront where they need to be. Even when Fernando Ribeiro growls, the words are clear. Interestingly enough, so is his native Portuguese accent. Ribeiro doesn’t resort to the sort of “vernacular accent” that many singers use when singing in English, for an international audience.
The album starts off with the dark and powerful introduction, as usual. Unlike the last few albums, though, it cuts to the first riff pretty quickly. Interestingly, the riff sounds more power metal than the usual gothic or black metal riffs we’re used to from Moonspell. Like everything else on this album, though, it fits perfectly.
That’s my biggest complaint about Alpha Noir, though. It sounds like the group holding back so much on experimentation that this album doesn’t sound really “new” in relation to their discography. Don’t get me wrong, it is still awesome. If it’s your first Moonspell album, it will blow you away. It just sounds that no matter how awesome it is, though, any song from this album could fit on any of its predecessors (especially the last three). As such, I have a hard time isolating favorite tracks from this one (although “Versus” is rather catchy). Expect a lot of darkness and momentum from this album.
If you can get the special version with the bonus album, Omega White, get it. It’s certainly worth the extra few bucks. It’s a little more like Moonspell’s earlier albums. The press release for the album describes Omega White as paying tribute to influences such as Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative (indeed, one track, “New Tears Eve,” is dedicated to the memory of Peter Steele). Knowing this, one can hear it. Yet it sounds very much Moonspell’s own. It’s not quite as heavy as Alpha Noir, but rocks just as hard.
Overall, horns way up.