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Master of the tone

Posted on 30

He is not my favorite guitarist. His band is not my favorite band. But, there is something about this man’s playing that simply sets him apart from most of the other players.

I’ve been following his band Moonspell for some two decades now and the diversity in approach as well as the steady quality level throughout their releases has kept me interested and constantly hungry for more. The experimenting doesn’t seem to seize any time soon either, judging from what we know about the forthcoming release entitled 1755, which will be their first ever release entirely sung in Portuguese.

I could go on about the way the band masters to remain relevant and true to the gist of this band, while constantly experimenting and constantly moving the band forward yet in different directions, but that’s not what this article is about.

This article is about band’s guitar player Ricardo Amorim, who has been with the band since 1995. He’s technically skilled guitar player, but what captures me the most is his ability to use gazillion different guitar sounds and make it all sound like the most natural thing in the world. For the most part guitarist who use so many different sounds in their music come across as gadget geeks who want to use any sound they can think of just because they can. On top of that, his gear list is not even that excessive. See it at the end of this article.

Amorim, on the other side, does this in such a way that it not only serves the song and at times gives it an unexpected twist, but also he simply makes this a necessary part of the song. His playing and sound become a defining part of the songs.

Amorim skills are certain and they do serve as solid concrete foundation for his playing, but it’s his creativity with sounds and understanding of how it contributes to the songs in a way that serves the greater picture of the song, that makes him unique.

You can pick up any Moonspell album to experience this first-hand, but some of the best examples can be found on the band’s latest album Extinct and nonetheless on late 90’s / early 00’s releases Sin/Pecado and Darkness and Hope.

But in case you are not familiar with the band and Amorim I would suggest you to start off with Extinct because besides being one of the finest examples of this article’s focus – the guitar tone, it’s also one of the most accessible Moonspell albums.

“Medusalem” from that album is an extremely good example of this man’s creativity and ability to go through numerous sounds (and genres for that matter) while at the same time support the song and not make any of his playing stick out from the overall feel. In the middle of the song in course of one minute he goes through sounds influenced by country, rock, metal and Middle-Eastern music in what can only be described as a seamless roller-coaster ride (if such thing exists).

Another fabulous example of this man’s understanding how to contribute to the very core of song can be heard in “Future is Dark” which displays some outstanding guitar arrangements a a truly chilling solo.

 

I’ve enjoyed Moonspell’s music for couple of decades now and one of the important aspects of it is that if feels generic and the songs serve the greater good of the album. Songs are in focus and nothing sticks too much out. It’s like all the instruments, arrangements, lyrics, vocals and the production serve the songs. Yet when all is said and done, compared to lots of guitar players (especially) in the genre, Amorim’s playing truly does stand out. His playfulness and endless line of effects never stamps over his understanding of song and serving of the greater good of the song. Often it also ads another dimension or twist to a song, while at all times serving the purpose of the song.

Do yourself a favor, kick back and start going through Moonspell’s discography and please do so with some seriously good speakers or headphones and no on these poor sounding YouTube videos.

As I’m about to sign out “How We Became Fire” from the above mentioned Darkness and Hope album gently fills the room and I’m about to get lost in yet another great example of Amorim’s talent and how can that not … make me smile.

 

Ricardo Amorim’s gear:

POWER:

  • Amplifier (Head) Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier & Mesa Boogie Speakers

EFFECTS/PROCESSING:

  • T.C. Electronics G-System
  • Boss Noise Suppressor
  • Ibanez Tube Screamer

GUITARS:

  • Amfisound (design by Ricardo himself with the colaboration of the brand).
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom
Ricardo Amorim cover photo: Sabina Baron for Heavy Metal Webzine
Ricardo Amorim photo: SonicView Design Studio  for Metal Revolution

Guitar photo: Ricardo Amorim Facebook
Relevant links: Ricardo Amorim Facebook
& Moonspell Facebook