Review Summary: This re-recording proves what the few of us that have the original EP already knew… that “Under the Moonspell” would have been one of the strongest releases of Moonspell’s career if it wasn’t for the weak production.
For those that are unaware of this album’s background, a little information might be in order. This CD is the total re-recording of Moonspell
’s first EP, Under The Moonspell
, their Anno Satanae
demo and the song “Serpent Angel” which was originally written when they were still known as Morbid God
. Not only were all the songs re-recorded, but according to the band, they also updated them as well. For those familiar with the original recordings the changes will be easily noticeable, but not in a negative way; most of the changes actually make the songs better and one just seem a little suspect.
Originally I had devoted two full paragraphs to the differences between this album and the originals, but keeping in mind that the EP was released in minimal numbers and that the demos are in even shorter supply, those paragraphs were deleted. Instead the review will focus less on the changes and more on the album itself since most have never heard any of the originals anyway. Overall, the sound of the album could easily be summed up as Black Metal that is heavily influenced by Doom and Gothic Rock. Basically, the songs are generally mid-paced affairs with a few faster and slower sections. While that description might not sound like anything too different or special, the quality lies in the details.
On the musical side, Moonspell have included a variety of diverse elements such as classical instrumentation, female vocals, acoustic interludes, and even Middle Eastern influences. When those diverse elements are used within the framework of the songs, they are able to give them a unique edge despite the fact that without them a lot of the music would seem “familiar”. Vocally this is Moonspell’s most diverse offering as well. Fernando uses the black metal rasp that he is known for as well as the deep gothic vocals too, but he also includes some very deep guttural death metal vocals and even hardcore shouts. For those that have heard Fernando’s vocals in the past, it should also be noted that this is his strongest performance to date. His vocals sound full and powerful and never fall into the “cheese” that he so frequently succumbed to on past albums.
The songs, “Tenebarum Oratorium (Andamento I)” and “Tenebarum Oratorium (Andamento II)” are both good examples of a lot of those influences at work. “Andamento I” is basically a metal song with Black Metal influences, but by containing a lot of different sections that use everything from flutes and sitars, to female vocals influenced by melodies commonly associated with the Middle East they’re able to give the song its own unique personality. “Andmento II” is roughly similar in influences except musically it has even more of a Black Metal edge to it, but instead of using the vocals usually associated with the genre he uses a hardcore shout through most of the song, which gives it a power that the original song (which used Black Metal vocals) never had.
Thanks to the great sounding re-recording, the demo songs now sound as fresh and powerful as anything that was actually written and released today. The songs from the demos are even more aggressive then the ones from the “Under the Moonspell” EP, and feature a lot of the guttural Death Metal vocals mentioned earlier. These songs are also a lot more linear then the songs on the EP as they don’t feature a lot of the extraneous instruments or female vocals, instead just sticking to the typical Metal instruments (and keyboards, of course). That doesn’t mean that they are simply generic songs that a demo would be thought to contain though, as there are still a lot of different influences that they incorporate into each song, it’s just that these influences are all limited to various genres of metal.
This re-recording proves what the few of us that have the original EP already knew… that “Under the Moonspell” would have been one of the strongest releases of Moonspell’s career if it wasn’t for the weak production. If you’re not normally into Moonspell because of the weak gothic turn they’ve taken through most their career you may find that this album is a redeeming factor in their history. If you’re already a fan of Moonspell or at least enjoyed Memorial
then this album would definitely be another one worth looking into. For those that are just into Black Metal but have never heard Moonspell, this album or their latest album,Memorial
, would be a good place to start.