Moonspell have reached a point in their career, just like Testament and Dimmu Borgir, where they can clearly see that they have become something else and more in the course of time, yet that their youthful origins had an essence that is worth recapturing.
More obscure and interesting than actually good, the Portuguese dark metallers released the debut album ‘Under the Moonspell’ after having gained an underground reputation with the ‘Anno Satanæ’ demo from 1993. Although leaning against the black metal genre, theirs was one that was fused with a Mediterranean feel and darkness – and this made it very different from their hellish brethren from the far north.
After the first feeble release, the band went on the create the milestone ‘Wolfheart’ and toured with Morbid Angel and Immortal in 1995. The rest is, as they say, history; Moonspell was elevated to fame, in particular in their native Portugal where they became chart material.
‘Under Satanæ’ is a re-recording of the entire ‘Under the Moonspell’ album, the ‘Anno Satanæ’ demo tracks and the first recorded track by the band (then under the name of Morbid God).
And if this recording shows anything, then it is the fact that Moonspell have matured into a focused and professional band who know how to cut a proper metal disc. This is not a bunch of teenagers who want to play it brutal. This is five musicians who together let the drama and darkness efficiently pour from the amps, not by playing ridiculously fast or hard, but just as much by putting together a varied album with haunting acoustic pieces or equally haunting female voices.
The three re-recordings from the ‘Anno Santanæ’ demo as well as the Serpent Angel track are the most straightforward tracks of the release, all imbued with a pristine rawness and in the case of the track Wolves from the Fog in particular remind me of the atmosphere captured on ‘Wolfheart’.
This is drama, this is darkness pure – and it is damned good. Do try this at home.