The T 666
This was my first full-length experience with MOONSPELL. I have heard a few songs before but "The Antidote" was the only album that I found in one of my local record stores (I since found a couple more), so I bought it right away and it has been my introduction to the music of this Portuguese metal band.
The best way to describe "The Antidote" would probably be as gothic-extreme-progressive metal. In one side, we have, definitely, extreme metal, a big influence from Black Metal to be more specific; on the other hand, the slow, pensive songs filled with distant, lush keyboards and dark but sensuous atmospheres give the album a distinct gothic flavor. Finally, the abundance of short instrumental passages and some experimentation with structures and especially with orchestration help MOONSPELL sound progressive.
The songs are of average length, at about 5 minutes. Most of the structures are rather simple verse-chorus-verse ones, but some have special treatments in their form. The tempo of most tracks is usually moderate, not too-fast, not too-slow, even though it goes in both directions a few times. Guitars are the main drivers of this music with powerful riffs that are accentuated by grand, reverberating keyboards. There are some acoustic passages here and there that add to the variety. The vocals are of two kinds: on one hand we have regular extreme metal vocals, somewhere in the middle between low-pitched death grunts and high-pitched black growling; on the other hand, we have a rather lifeless, monotone, yet somehow seductive, clean gothic voice not unlike that of Peter Steele of TYPE O NEGATIVE if he was mixed with Johan Edlund of TIAMAT. Overall, the music also shows influences from these two bands, as well as black metal bands and more progressive-death bands like AMORPHIS (whose bassist plays on this record) or even OPETH.
The musicianship is very good if not dazzling. The vocals overpower the rest of the instruments for most of the album, but the guitar player and the keyboardist have their chance to shine, too. The drums are simple yet very effective. The bass is perfectly played by the Finnish guest. There are not many displays of technique but the playing is tight and precise, and one can easily detect the proficiency of these Portuguese musicians on "The Antidote".
The songs range from good to very good. The best probably are "Everything Invaded", which MOONSPELL wisely chose as their video in their homeland Portugal, "In and Above Men" a powerful opener that sets the mood for the rest of the album, and "As we Eternally sleep on it", the longest track. There are no weak songs here, but there aren't any outstanding masterpieces either.
All in all, an enjoyable experience that is hurt a little bit by the repetitive mood that permeates the album. A good introduction for the band and one that convinced me to invest a little more time into another MOONSPELL release.