The Antidote

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O Negative, Tiamat, Sisters of Mercy, and sixth album The Antidote finds the Portuguese group existing in its own unique, creative headspace. Bolstered by a thoroughly enveloping production -- which carefully places lush, gothic textures into harsh, metallic realms, and vice versa -- and accomplished, memorable songwriting, The Antidote is easily the group's most ambitious effort. The band utilizes a rich sonic palette that smartly balances melodic hooks, keyboard textures and an impressively strong foundation of steely guitar riffs; moody, rousing numbers ("Capricorn at Her Feet," "Crystal Gazing," "The Southern Deathstyle") mingle with lengthy, spacious excursions ("Lunar Still," "As We Eternally Sleep on It") and exemplary fist-pumping anthems that toe the line between the black/death metal grit and commercial sheen ("In and Above Men," "A Walk on the Darkside"). "Antidote" may be the most inspired track, with its understated staccato acoustic-guitar intro and careful use of silence amidst grandiose crescendos. And singer Fernando Ribeiro adds dimension to Moonspell's increasingly compelling dynamic; his lyrics are poetic and strange, and his voice switches between a Peter Steele-style basso profundo and a blackened subterranean growl. Artful and compelling, The Antidote brings to mind the woefully underrated glory of Babylon Whores, and should find Moonspell appealing to listeners who relish the integrity and progressive nature of the metal underground, as well as those who crave more accessible songwriting. Impressive.

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