MOONSPELL — Wolfheart (review)

MOONSPELL — Wolfheart album cover Album · 1995 · Gothic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Wolfheart is easily one of my favourite records of all time. It has anything I would expect from a great metal album. It has a lot of diversity. It has an intense and coherent atmosphere. It has interesting lyrics that fit to the concept of the music and artwork. It has many catchy moments but also some more progressive and epic tracks. It has aged well and grows on you every time you try it out once again. It has its own unique charm and doesn't sound too much like anyone else.

Wolfheart has also been a revolutionary album being one of the first extreme metal records coming from Southern Europe. The band is right to be proud to come from a country where metal music isn't as popular as in Central and Northern Europe and they don't hesitate to perform parts of several songs in Portuguese. They also use a few folk instruments which give an epic touch to this debut record without sounding too soft and sweet. On the other hand, there is a big gothic influence in this record concerning the bleak atmosphere and the dark lyrics. Many people consider this album as a black metal record but this style is only one of several subtle elements and influences among others. The band mixes energy and majesty in a unique way without forgetting about originality.

Every song is worth to be listened to and there is no single filler on here. The harmonic and epic introduction to the great opening epic "Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)" immediately drowns us into a mysterious atmosphere and digs us deeper into a bleak majesty when the dark lyrics kick off. The keyboards and choirs may sound a little bit artificial as the band lacked of budget but this gives an undeniable charm to the record and makes it sound more underground and mysterious. In the first track the band already proves all of their talent. The singer switches from dark shrieks to low melodic clean vocals. The track has some chilling moments that focus on decent keyboard melodies, harmonic guitar passages and a surprisingly audible bass guitar line. On the other side, there are also more rhythm orientated mid tempo passages and a floating progressive bridge. Everything underlines the focus on a dark and addicting atmosphere and sounds very coherent. That's only what I say about the first track but I could continue like this for every other song on the record.

There are many magic moments on this album. "Trebaruna" is an amazingly hypnotizing folk track and pleases me at least ten times more than anything most of the so-called modern folk bands from Northern Europe use to play. I mean those guys here come from Portugal and perform dark folk beats as if they have grown up with Viking history and Scandinavian folk tales. The great bonus track "Ataegina" has some great Lusitanian folk elements and is able to mix happy and positive chants with mysterious folk sounds and dark riffs. Who needs Eluveitie now? The female shrieks in the end of "Vampiria" give me goose bumps every time I listen to them once again and are an unforgettable moment in metal history. The Portuguese chorus of the addicting "Alma Mater" is not only catchy as hell but also a true statement by the band.

There are so many whining people that claim that the eighties were such a great decade while the nineties were the downfall of metal music. Every time I listen to Moonspell's "Wolfheart", Amorphis' "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" or Therion's "Theli" I realize that this is not true and that the nineties even seem to have the greater gems. This is one of them and a definite must have for any metal fan of any genre.
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