In 1996, I was one of the bookers of a small venue, and I was fortunate to meet a very humble and unassuming combo from Portugal who had just been honoured with the opportunity to support the almighty Morbid Angel and the furious Immortal on their European tour.
six dark-haired and very shy characters snug around the venue and
seemed to be amazed that we actually gave them food and drink and that
someone wanted to listen to their music. Whispers in the corners said
that they were a new hope of death/doom, but only when I came home the
day after the gig and listened to the Wolfheart promo CD then
bass-player Ares solemnly presented to me as a thank you,
was my favourite CD for months after that and it is still a disc I
revisit often because of the fantastic fusion of folklore,
rock’n’roll and doomy black metal.
adventure had begun with the messy but promising folkloristic black
metal CD Under the Moonspell from 1993 and continued after Wolfheart
on Irreligious that came out later in 1996. The songs, however,
did not quite have the same magic as they’d had on Wolfheart,
but Irreligious was still an album that cemented the style of
Moonspell and boosted sales for the bands, especially in their home
country of Portugal where reports said that they had become virtual
Sin / Pecado was a very different matter, but not in a bad way.
The sound on this CD was decidly more modern than its predecessors and
parallels could be drawn to the experiments made by Paradise Lost in
the UK. More pop entered the soundscape, but still with a heavy edge.
saw the release of The Butterfly Effect. Again, the magic
wasn’t quite as obvious as it had been on Wolfheart, but it
did excel in classics such as the ultra-heavy tune “Soulsick” and
the eerie “I am the Eternal Spectator”.
2000 I saw the band live in Copenhagen, an experience that made it
apparent that this is a band that dares to be different. The stage
set-up was dark and beautiful, the band dressed in carefully stylised
rags and painted for the occasion. The self-confidence was a welcome
difference from the people I had met four years before.
and Hope from 2001
was a somewhat disappointing experience. It never managed to capture
my interest, perhaps because more or less all songs on the CD are
written after the same recipe and becomes a sort of pop-doom-rock
It is a quite different matter
with the band's latest album, The Antidote. The heaviness of
opener “In and above Men” blew me away when the CD was put in the
CD-player. The trademarks of Moonspell are all there: Ten songs with
Fernando’s deep, doomy voice and charming Portu-English, this time
with a decidedly more furious edge to it, the sheer solidity of the
rhythm section, the simple riffing with the rock touch.
time around, the band has been especially creative: the CD contains a
complete set of short stories by writer José Luís Peixoto, and the artwork is
nothing less than astonishing. According to the credits, the CD was
made in collaboration between the writer and the band, and the result,
one could argue, could easily make a precedence in the metal world.
The result is simply more whole, more artistically complete than
anything I’ve seen in a long time and it's a pleasure to listen to
this varied mix of fairly straight forward southern (European) doom rock
with double bass drum, to shift through the electronic pages of
Peixoto’s dark words and to watch the great video for the catchy
doomster “Everything Invaded”.