Sound — 8
After a string of very solid albums, Moonspell have ended up with quite heavy expectations from media and fans for this album. Despite having a very diverse back catalog, they've managed to build and expand their fanbase, by being very honest with their music, not to mention maintaining a high standard throughout their career.
The sound of the album is very, very dark and very moody. The music created coupled with the smooth and slick yet crunchy and aggressive production only enhances that vibe. The music and the sound borders on melodic death, with a touch of black metal at times, but if I'd be forced to pick a genre I'd just pick modern metal with a sprinkle of gothic darkness and tragedy on top.
The production leaves very little to be desired. It's ugly when it needs to be ugly, and it's beautiful and soothing when the need arises. It's a regular, modern metal production with punch and clarity, and to be honest it sounds no different from most productions you hear today. Tue Madsen has a strong history of putting together quality productions and this album is no different. The mood and the drama fits the production likes a bill.
Lyrics — 8
The mood and the re-occurring theme is darkness, which should come as no surprise. The gothic undertones in the lyrical themes are very strong, where apocalyptic lyrics mingle with darkness, love, tragedy and everything else under our dying sun.
The language is fairly rich with metaphors and quite interesting themes. My favorite would probably be Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith), about Lucifer and his love Lilith, described by Ribeiro as the first couple, the first lie, the first betrayal, the first tragic love. Other favorites would be Shadow Sun, which is most likely about the end of the world, and the awesome opener At Tragic Heights, which also touches upon destruction and the end of times.
Overall Impression — 9
We're certainly dealing with one of the better albums so far this year. The songwriting is dark and at times very depressing, yet beautiful and soothing at the same time. There are catchy elements present in abundance, especially evident in the melodies, be they vocal, guitar or keyboard. Often the keyboard takes on the role of outlining a melodic theme behind the guitars who provide the metal onslaught, and they complement each other very, very well. The diversity in the vocal department is very pleasing, ranging from death growls/screams to soft and emotional. What perhaps makes Moonspell's music so captivating and interesting is how well they manage to deliver emotion without coming across as corny or cheesy. Musically, there's a certain technical element present, but it rarely, if never, takes the spotlight from the song and the mood.
Some criticism is needed however, for this album is not just a bed of roses (or should that be bed of thorns? ). The album opens up very strong, but somewhere around the mid-to-end-mark, the album doesn't seem quite as convincing and has lost some that powerful spark it displayed in the opening 15-20 minutes. These complaints are however minor, for the downsides are easily overshadowed by the upsides. We're not dealing with bad songs, just less good ones.
As far as dark, tragic and depressing albums of 2008 go, you can't do much better right now. Night Eternal is a very strong album with several killer songs and qualities in the songwriting department that most bands would, and should kill for.