“Under Satanae” by Moonspell

Artist: Moonspell
Title: “Under Satanae”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 11/6/2007
Genre: Black/Gothic Metal
Rating: 4/5

Instead of following up their critically acclaimed Gothic Metal masterpiece “Memorial” with an album of new material or even a live release the Portuguese Dark Metal masters chose to take us on a journey back in time to their sinister beginnings on an album entitled “Under Satanae”. The album features complete re-recordings of their debut release “Under The Moonspell” (1994), “Anno Satanae” EP (1993) and the single track “Serpent Angel” (1992) and while its not laid out that way on the album, the proper way to listen to this one would be from end to beginning, because it is in this fashion that you can see how the band progressed and grew as time went on. However, it does begin with the “Under The Moonspell” stuff and this material is captivating and heavy, there is a tasty Middle Eastern flavor across the tracks and with the presence of the female vocalist backup it becomes rather erotic at times as well. These enhancements to the darkness come courtesy of Carmen Simoes. Just listen to both parts of “Tenebrarum Oratorium” and see if I am on track with that perception. I had to say that I enjoyed finding the band doing this even though I originally had my reservations when I first discovered this was re-done older material. The hesitation came from my remembering how I felt when I listened to the re-done “Stay Hungry” by Twisted Sister, which I just felt was not too good. However, Moonspell manages to lure you into the Black Metal that they were once in greater command of before they morphed into the more brooding Gothic Metal side that they rule over in today’s Metal world. Their re-recordings seem fresh and while I was not a listener to the band when they first came on the scene I was hard pressed to think that any modification was done to these tunes.

The second of the three acts presented is their EP “Anno Satanae” and this is definitely steeped in the roots of Black Metal and there are times when it’s almost Symphonic. There is a crushing Doom feel to “Goat On Fire” and “Wolves In The Fog” is just a multi-layered experiment into many different Metal realms. The track is long enough to take you down different corridors and it does just that and is definitely one of the most powerful tracks on the album. The album closes with the song that began the Moonspell career and that is the track “Serpent Angel” which uses blast-beat drumming and razor fast guitar riffing at times and slowly crushing feels at others. It’s a track that shows us that the band then known as Morbid God truly had some promise and was different from a lot of the other stuff that was going on in Metal at the time. Part of me wishes that we had more of this in the USA during 1992 instead of much of the dreadful Grunge that we were getting spoon fed. There are lyrics and the booklet is instead a foldout poster that reveals a rather Pagan image. Lyrically this is really evil stuff and not recommended for the feint or overly religious of heart. If you are made of stronger stuff then by all means indulge because you will not lose your soul from reading it. Or will you? The members of the band for the recording are Langsuyar (Fernando), Nisroth (Miguel), Morning Blade (Ricardo), Passionis/Neophytus (Pedro) and Ahriman (Aires).

So does this mean that the guys in Moonspell miss the way that it all began for them and the style of music that launched their career? Does this mean that the next studio album will find them exploring these foreboding worlds once again to sate the appetites of their hard core fans? One cannot tell until the interviews happen or the band starts discussing what’s actually on their mind in terms of new material so we shall just have to wait on this one. Perhaps they are noticing the ever-growing popularity of the Symphonic Black Metal scene and seeing how bands like Dimmu Borgir are ever on the rise while the legends like Emperor and Immortal are still finding their acolytes in humble reverence whenever they play. I admit that it would be interesting to see Moonspell shift gears a little bit more in this direction after proving that they can rule the Gothic Metal side and still safely return to their roots without showing any difficulty in their ability to do so. The release of “Under Satanae” proves that they have not mellowed at all and can still make material from decades past sound fresh and exciting. This is a great way for new fans to see where they came from musically and how elements of these tunes became the songs that their followers enjoy today.

Track Listing:
1. Halla alle halla al rabka halla
2. Tenebrarum Oratorium
3. Interludium/Incantium
4. Tenebrarum Oratorium
5. Opus Diabolicum
6. Chorai Luistania!
7. Goat On Fire
8. Ancient Winter Goddess
9. Wolves From The Fog
10. Serpent Angel

Official Website: www.moonspell.com

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