Moonspell Alpha Noir

Moonspell Alpha Noir
Moonspell have been reliable purveyors of dark, powerful metal since the mid-'90s, delightfully vicious in tone even when their aggressive intensity has waned. Alpha Noir isn't one of those waning moments. The band's latest album (first for Napalm Records) emerges from the gate with gnashing teeth and a snarling attitude, and barely lets up from beginning to end. Alpha Noir represents Moonspell near a peak of melodic violence, channelling heavy, classic thrash through a thin layer of death metal brutality and an eerie veil of gothic gloom. Amidst this stylistic focus, the lead guitar is featured with exceptional strength over a solid rhythmic base, making for an unusually upbeat energy (very headbanging-friendly). Alpha Noir has its slower, slightly creepy or ominously sensual accents and interludes, but these feel more like teasers than central elements. And as bombastic as the album can be, there's slightly less of the brooding, stalking atmosphere Moonspell can craft so masterfully. Perhaps the bonus disc, Omega White, included with the special edition covers some of this ground, promising a more vintage goth metal sound. (Napalm)