Moonspell – 1755

Moonspell
“1755”
Dark Metal
Release: 3rd November 2017
Via Napalm Records

1755

Whether one likes it or not, Moonspell have changed the way Portugal’s metal scene is looked at. It’s been 25 successful years, so they’re not releasing now a conceptual album, in their native tongue, because they need to prove themselves; they’re doing it because they just can.

As you probably know by now, 1755 was the year when the Great Lisbon earthquake took place, on All Saints’ Day, resulting in the near-destruction of the city and a death toll of tens of thousands. That alone gives you an idea of the emotional weight of this record, which goes much beyond the lyrical content depicting such tragedy. There’s the obscure orchestral arrangements (courtesy of Jon Phipps) in the new version of “Em Nome Do Medo”, the operatic female voices throughout the album enhancing its epic imprint, the brazenness of “Desastre”, the weeping guitar solo in “Ruínas” – a song otherwise quite brisk. A similar contrast occurs in “In Tremor Dei”, between that bold melody and the riveting voice of fado singer Paulo Bragança. In case you don’t know, fado is a Portuguese classic music genre, of a sad and longing nature – after all, it literally means “fate” -, sung in heartbreaking intonations. If the idea of Moonspell featuring Bragança is somewhat shocking, the outcome is simply mind-blowing.

Marquis of Pombal, the Prime-Minister at the time of the earthquake, said something like “now we bury the dead and take care of the living”. Maybe a bit cold, but a positive vision nevertheless. And that’s also how Moonspell finish “1755”: originally performed by Brazilian rockers Paralamas do Sucesso, “Lanterna dos Afogados” is a song of hope and being there for one another, now with a much darker vibe – very Moonspell-ish. Come to think of it, there isn’t really any new trait here; it’s how the band now combines and tweaks those traits, accordingly with its bleakest theme, that makes “1755” a memorable masterpiece.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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