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Moonspell - Under Satanae Review

by Matt Hensch

The magic of Moonspell has been flowing through the astral planes for a good number of years, but not much of their demo-era matter is praised as a boost toward their current status. Before the legendary Wolfheart, there were a handful of EPs and demos released under the Moonspell moniker, but these items weren't feeble attempts to sound evil; they much rather flirted with perfection if anything. Several years have passed since then, yet a certain group of individuals never forgot where they originated and what gave them a launch in the beginning despite such a dramatic change over time: Moonspell themselves. To match the same energy of such a unique phase could only mean a second take at the folk-orientated black metal, and that's what Portugal's frontrunners decided to do with Under Satanae. Calling it a modern recreation would be grotesquely improper, because this is the work of legends. Other attempts to redo old material might fail for others, but Moonspell's flawless twists on their pastime forges a re-recording effort of the ages; one that definitely sets the bar for the idea.

The acquired anthems resemble a strict foundation of spell-binding atmosphere along with the basic norms of black metal. A good thing about this distinct formula is the quintessential balance between majestic backgrounds and gritty traits of extremism such as tremolo picking and the whole ordeal. Of course, the riffing is generally submerged into chopping doom sections and beefy mid-paced rockers, which leaves a great channel of transition when Moonspell's blackened attack desires a new body to possess. But still, the hidden keyboards probably play the biggest instrumental role due to the constant application of its flaying properties; such involvement adds a boatload of pigmentation to the already-thriving endowment. As a whole, Moonspell's exploitation of twisted black metal leaves an awe-inspiring set of excellence as the whole CD just gets better and better with each listen.

An institution of solid black metal gravity leaves several open holes in Under Satanae that are essentially filled with slick Middle Eastern folk sections. Like a snake prowling on a rat, mysterious acoustic Arabic licks lightly hover around the nimble metal assault, just waiting for the right moment to strike its way into the listener's presence. Oddly enough, one could argue the percussion represents this feeling with its calculated hammering of the toms mixed with slicing patterns of almost a tribal feel, but that's exactly the refreshment point. Such a strange addition to the body of black metal is absolutely perfect in every sense, and the execution of transcendental influences is infinitely sublime for Portugal's finest. Nothing can refute the pure magic of the folk element and its utter jurisdiction as the nucleus of Moonspell's prototypal black metal days.

Furthermore, Under Satanae is polished off nicely with Fernando Ribeiro's riveting multi-chromatic vocal performance in which an assorted collection of styles are enforced and mastered. Ribeiro's dominant approach is a strange operatic-grunting hybrid that appears just how it sounds: odd, but awesome nonetheless. Still, masculine clean vocals are usually connected into Moonspell's circuit board on a rather frequent basis, and Ribeiro's seductive tone paves a trail of nonstop enjoyment; especially for those interested in the Goth-laden vocal styles. Typically, that's about what to expect from Fernando, but crooked growls and deafening shrieks are both common and attractively applied in several stunning scenarios. Can he narrate? Yes, and it rules. How about screams? You bet your ass! Is he God? No, but I bet he's pretty high on the food chain, if you know what I mean.

Moonspell's decision to recreate the union of folk influences with their esoteric blackened design was a most brilliant idea; Under Satanae is a nearly flawless re-recording effort. Musically, there are no issues at all, but the fact of the band's ability to reface their past and master the same material years later is really a neat thing to witness. Obviously, anyone interested in the Moonspell faction should immediately get their hands on this, yet those unfamiliar with this mysterious squad are given one hell of an opportunity to check these guys out with Under Satanae. Don't miss out on this!

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Moonspell - Under Satanae


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