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Review: Moonspell - Wolfheart

Label: Century Media
Year released: 1995
Duration: 43:55
Tracks: 8
Genre: Gothic Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: April 30, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 4.04/5 (80.83%) (24 Votes)

This was the first full-length from Moonspell, and the best. They had released an EP before this, but on an indie label. With "Wolfheart" this Portugese band had major distro from Century Media and made quite a splash with this album, and it’s easy to see why. Arriving in the midst of the metal Dark Age, right smack in 1995, one of the suckiest years for metal ever, Moonspell’s debut was a refreshing breath of dark gothic metal.

And if ever a CD deserved the label "Gothic Metal", this is it. "Moonspell" is layered with moody keyboards, slow guitar riffs, and vocals that range from harsh death snarls to a dark clean voice. The accent distracts a bit on some of the clean vox, but not too bad. The songwriting here is the real star of the show, as the album is highly varied and always interesting. The Paradise Lost influence is quite plain, but Moonspell mix it up with enough gothic key passages, tasty acoustic breaks, and vocal variety to make this sound all their own. The opener "Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)" is by itself reason enough for the whole album, with a fistful of riffs and enough variety for a whole album just by itself. "Love Crimes" is a more riff driven song with some so-so female backing vocals and a great double-bass groove. This CD never gets dull or repeats itself, and all the songs are pretty cool. "Alma Mater" is another high point that closes out the album on a strong note. As a whole this album rocks surprisingly hard for such a gothic-sounding effort.

The CD is very cool-looking, with the black-metal style spiky logo and the creepy wolf art. The lyrics here are pretty good, at least the ones in English, I can’t vouch for the Portugese.

Moonspell have never really been able to match this album, despite a lot of trying. (Though I hear good things about their new one) "Wolfheart" is a very cool gothic-metal CD, free of most goth clichés simply because it predates most of them. Even if you are no fan of gothic metal, this one has enough riffs and heavy kick to please. Not quite a classic, but a fine album nonetheless.

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