Lisbon-based Moonspell was officially founded in 1992; however, the band operated as Morbid God beginning in 1989. The band began action as a black metal band, which soon made a U-turn into more commercial gothic tonality. Sensing a reversal of its fortune the band would announce a “harsher” sound for The Butterfly Effect again. Ironically, the members had set up Dæmonarch to compensate for the lack of (black) metal in Moonspell. Guitarist Malah would last for the years 1992 and 1993. Replacement J.M. Tanngrisnir would last two years. This musician would later turn up in Ironsword. The 1993 demo was called Anno Satanæ. Interestingly, the band’s 2007 album was called Under Satanae. This demo was re-issued by Lion Records in 2006. It featured two Morbid God songs. The band was heard on the Mortuary Vol. 1 split through Skeleton Records also featuring Bowelrot, Silent Scream, Extreme Unction and Thormenthor. Moonspell signed with the Molon Lave label for a 7" entitled Wolves From The Fog in 1994. The French label Adipocere Records issued the band’s EP Under The Moonspell. The members took on titles such as Dramatic, erudit vox and passioned metaphors or Six string occult citar. Less impressive were titles like Four string arabid 'ud or Ethnic and tragic ambience keys! Flutes and violin were included.
The group was soon signed by the German label Century Media for a seven-album cooperation. This was a big deal for a Portuguese band at this time. Grip Inc. guitarist Waldemar Sorycht produced Wolfheart. Mantus quit mid-tour and was replaced by Amorim. Moonspell opened for Tiamat and Morbid Angel in Europe. The band worked with SPV/Steamhammer for three albums. With that label’s bankruptcy the Portuguese band switched to Austria’s Napalm Records for 2012’s Alpha Noir. This album was a two-disc release. Moonspell had teased its fans with the initials ‘A.N.’ prior to revealing the album’s full title. A special edition included the album's "musical twin," Omega White.
Langsuyar was the frontman’s alias up until the second album. 2econd Skin included cover versions like Depeche Mode’s Sacred. Founding member Ares would depart apparently due to the new commercial direction and a lawsuit would ensue. The Brazilian Sergio Crestana debuted on bass for 2econd Skin replacing Ares. He would remain with the band log enough to complete Darkness And Hope. The band’s commercial sound yielded opening slots for Kiss and Manowar. Sin Pecado’s promotional material and biographies included members posing with crosses or shots of crucifixes on their own. Later tours would be with Therion and Anathema. In 2003 Amorphis' Niclas Etelavouri would be loaned to Moonspell in order to record the next album with the latter band, which had lost its bassist. Otherwise, Moonspell’s line-up showed unusual resilience. Aires Pereira of Malevolence would show up for 2007’s Under Satanae. In July of 2008, Danzig, Dimmu Borgir, Moonspell, Winds Of Plague and Skeleton Witch were touring Canada and the USA using the Blackest Of The Black monicker. When Samael dropped from appearing alongside Moonspell on its North American tour in October and November of 2009 Divine Heresy took over. Samael issued a statement mentioning income and finances as the reason. Moonspell had opened for Samael in 1996. Moonspell, Leaves Eyes, and Atrocity toured North America in 2014.
Fernando Ribeiro has sporadically issued original poetry. In 2012, Moonspell published an autobiography, called XX 20 Anos/Years, in Portuguese and English. It was written by the band's frontman, Fernando Ribeiro and published by Saída De Emergência. Moonspell picked 1755 as the title for its Portuguese-language album of 2017, which was about that year’s earthquake in Portugal. Amorphis and Dark Tranquillity toured North America with openers Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum in September and October 2018. The band released Lisboa Under The Spell In August 2018. It was recorded in 2017. Moonspell singer Fernando Ribeiro launched Alma Mater Books & Records in 2018. His first releases were Tiamat and other reissues. ‘Alma’ sounded close to ‘Napalm,’ the band’s latest label. The act replaced original drummer Miguel "Mike" Gaspar with Hugo Ribeiro. The band also entered the studio to record its new album with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost) in September 2020. It was to be issued through Napalm Records in 2021.
MOONSPELL - MEMORIAL - SPV
According to the new Moonspell biography supplied by the band’s label, Moonspell’s Wolfheart album is “legendary”. In other words when grandparents tuck their granddaughters in bed at night they tell them about Wolfheart, museums display pictorials of the band making and playing the album and many books in stores discuss and argue the albums heroic effects.
The biography also notes that the Portuguese band is “revolutionary”. Even if we take a minor revolution in the course of history, say the Haitians’ removal from office of Papa Duck, is the label arguing that the band has affected history in terms to be discussed in history books? How about music books?
The biography also reminds the reader that Moonspell is the “Portuguese Gothic Metal kings.” The irony inherent in the phrase aside, given how there probably are, what, two bands of that so-called style in Portugal, how much of a profundity is that?
In short, not much in the biography can be considered reliable or informative. Which makes the use of words like “power” or “heavy” as relates to Memorial highly dubious. Sure, this is probably heavier than the other stuff the band has released in ten years, but given declining sales and the rapid marginalization of the act the band’s reversion to a modicum of guitars and growling (hello Amorphis!) is more like a case of too little too late than the unsullied actions of a band of real metal mavens.
Aside from multiple instrumentals and intros, yet another hidden song at the album’s end, the nth time band calls a song/album Memento Mori, loads of keyboards and a female vocalist the latest Moonspell shall leave metal fans impassive and unimpressed. - Ali “The Metallian”
MOONSPELL - UNDER SATANAE - SPV
And the winner of the Meaningless Release Of The Month goes to... Moonspell. Congratulations. Collect your $20 in sales per head and run home.
Yet another album that will get positive reviews by the legions of record company pleasing so-called metal websites regardless of its merit, Under Satanae with its fusion language title is a pointless release unless further saturation of the market was the band and label’s implicit goal.
Under Satanae is a re-recording of the pre-debut full-length (i.e. Wolfheart) material of Moonspell along with a song by the pre-Moonspell act Morbid God, namely Serpent Angel. Surely, this release has to do with either the fulfilment of a contractual obligation to SPV Records or Moonspell’s failure to reach a satisfactory agreement with original label Adipocere Records regarding a re-release of the Under The Moonspell EP of 1994. The CD is all the more peculiar given how more than half of the original members who performed those tracks are no longer in the line-up. That might be another reason for this album’s existence.
Since the original release of this material the Celtic Frost-inspired mood rockers have moved on to goth rock and other synthetic styles. While this K&F-oriented (keyboards & female vocals) was weak to begin with a re-recording with new members by a band that does not believe in this approach to composing music makes Under Satanae even more suspect. File under 'another legitimate target for the campaign against proliferation of landfills.' - Ali “The Metallian”
MOONSPELL - NIGHT ETERNAL - SPV
Moonspell has been updating its catalogue regularly and so here we have the Portuguese dark gothic rockers’ third full-length in as many years. The trend for the band and the swing in the metal scene in general has been clear and Night Eternal simply makes it more pronounced. Night Eternal is a heavier and more metallic Moonspell than most of the band’s previous output. Pomp, goth and commercialism still permeate this to no end, but the band has clearly made an effort to insert some metal here, add more organic drums, segments without K&F (keyboards & female vocals) and best of all have a thicker guitar sound complete with actual soloing. It is not that more than half this material is still a very poor choice for metal fans, but that there are actual songs or passages that are on the cusp of acceptability for those who crave extreme music. It is also clear as well that the strength of the sound supplied by Tue Madsen and Antfarm Studio abet Night Eternal to no end. Everything is loud, clear, breathing and well mixed. Even singer Fernando Ribeiro comes across with power and venom during certain moments even if things are awash in synthesizers. The movement is positive. - Ali “The Metallian”