Genre: Black Metal (early), Gothic Metal (later)
by Fernando Ribeiro
Throughout all the years of Moonspell existence I've been responsible by issuing and composing up to date Moonspell biographies maybe because I was the most familiar with writing or because I have been in ALL the moments of Moonspell story, whatever... and throughout the years I've done several biographies according to the ideological and musical oscillations and evolution's we have experienced as a band and as individuals. So I started off with very "eloquent", "poetic" biographies, totally non informative but that value for the over the top language and epicism of a really simple story. Naturally these "novels" were totally useless for labels and promoters and I had to step to more formal biographies. I have even done a middle term one between information and delirium to magazines and fanzines that could use both sides of Moonspell biographies. So I ended up with dozens of different biographies each for its use but I was only being bureaucratic about it so I dropped the case and let Century Media do the dirty doings. But I offered my services to our Internet page so, after the biography of my biographies, I should just put into life Moonspell's current biography that I really do not know how it will turn out. So I hope you get informed about the band since this all virtual hype is information anyway but let me warn you I am not capable of doing a formal biography. But let us cut this talk before gets as boring as it got paternal so ... The band real beginning was back in mid-1989 when myself, Ares and two other guys ,whose names are irrelevant for our history, formed a band called MORBID GOD. This was already a culmination of a long process of talking about doing a band, drawing logos, writing lyrics, designing and conceiving layouts and above all dreaming about the privilege of doing music. The closest thing to a band we had besides Morbid God was a project called ARCHANGEL (which I still think is a very good name for a band, so if you are looking for one...) where I was supposed to play drums and Ares was supposed to sing. Anyway as we realised it would be difficult and dull to have two bands with the same guys on different functions, we decide to concentrate on Morbid God as something more serious and left behind prolific names and ideas that bring a red colour to our faces when we mention them occasionally.
Well after a lot of hardwork to get instruments, essential gear and a rehearsal place that would replace the purely theoretical meetings on weekends in our former guitarist place we found a place owned by the City hall of our little urban village (Brandoa-where we still live by the way) and started working. I don't want to remember the very first rehearsals when nothing palpable or not was ever composed and jump to the very first track we have ever done called "The Fever". We rehearsed it a lot of times in candlelight, had it recorded on a 12 track mixer by Mantus who would join a little after in late 1990 I suppose, listened to it and finally decided it was not good enough to go in a professional studio. We started to be auto-critical since the beginning and until now we only profited from that and also of the fact we always knew how to wait, never rush anything but work hard to establish our projects on a real basis.
Army came for both our drummer and guitarist and the result was a small catastrophe since we were frozen in our very start. We haven't done anything for almost a year, our guitarist was kicked out in the meanwhile, and Mantus came and we could compose something worthy of a studiowork and that would came in the shape of "Serpent Angel" our very first release ever. We were also invited to be featured on a double compilation LP with the best Portuguese metal bands by an independent label MTM so we felt it was righ time to risk and to go and record our music. Careful as we were we rehearsed like lunatics, pre produced it on a small studio (where we played 13 times the track and where I had the reverb on full for my vocals) and finally went to a 24 track studio and issued it as a promo track, featured it on the record and spread it ourselves throughout all the underground scene we knew for more than 5 years now. It was August 1992, and the track was recorded on the 22nd.
We collected great reviews, small labels were offering deals for EP's and occasionally full lengths but we decided to wait, record a demo, do some necessary changes on the concept of the band and go for serious with it . So we started off by kicking our original drummer, got ourselves a new guitarist, Mike known as Nisroth joined the band right in October 1992, and we changed our name to MOONSPELL which we felt was like a true beginning for us. We continued on rehearsing, with better spirit and better people now and composed some tracks, three of each we recorded again on the same studio and that were featured in the one and only Moonspell demo "Anno Satanae" recorded in January 1993 and issued one month after. The tracks were "Goat on Fire", "Ancient Winter Goddess" and "Wolves from the Fog". This demo was regarded as a classic by the underground scene and brought us two self financed editions, one polish edition (still available) and one single with two tracks (still available). The reaction was so good that Adipocere from France offered us the best deal for a mini CD that we would record one year after on January 1994 and that was our true debut on a record sphere.
Naturally we lost a guitarist on the process, welcomed Tanngrisnir ex-Decayed (which coasted us the friendship with that band, which we cared for a start but could not care less nowadays) and got ourselves a keyboard player of our own Pedro Paixão alias Passionis or Neophytus. Both brought new things to the band and we composed one of the most ambitious and surprising records of 1994 on the underground scene: "Under the Moonspell" which combined our interests in southern culture, occultism and eroticism with a spawn of wide music influenced by our everlasting sources Bathory and Celtic Frost and by bands such as Dead can Dance and Arabian and Portuguese traditional music. This mini album that contained both Tenebrarums and Opus Diabolicum brought us the very first real fan and press attention and it had the undeniable value of getting us a deal with our current label Century media.
In the meanwhile we started playing live. Before 1994 we had played once with Decayed supporting on November 1993. We did few shows in the South of Portugal, in Lisbon and Oporto and had our live breakthrough supporting Cradle of Filth in Lisbon and Cannibal Corpse/Samael and Anathema in Lisbon as well.
Signing to Century Media was a dream come true. We rehearsed a lot in order to do the best we could and tried to experiment a lot of different stuff in our mosaic of influences going on for a darker sound, stronger songs and erotic, deadly lyrics. "Wolfheart" came into life so we travelled to Germany to work with Waldemar Sorychta whose productions we loved and became in a short period of time the second dream coming true. When "Wolfheart" came out nobody believed so much on it except for ourselves and the following months besides some successful gigs in Portugal were pretty low to get the album going. We needed an European tour and it made its appearance on the form of supporting Morbid Angel on the Domination 1995 tour. Before that we played a small headline tour in England with only 3 dates and had the chance to know better the foreign audience.
The Morbid Angel tour was simultaneously one of the best things that happened to Moonspell but one of the hardest experiences on our lives. First in the gap between the release of Wolf and the start of the tour we lost both guitarists each one for different reasons and we recruited Ricardo from a Portuguese band P.Waltz (that was not happy with the idea at all and had no prejudice of showing it through childish interviews that only amused us on boring tourdays) and went for seven weeks on a van, playing, driving, cooking, selling merchandise, whatever we had to. We played for the first time in Germany, Italy, Austria, France, Spain, etc. and had a fantastic reaction in spite of the poor conditions we had sometimes as a support act but we got on until the end and Wolfheart sales triplified with the release of the digipack and we overcomed Morbid Angel on selling's for instance. People discovered "Alma Mater", "Vampiria" and other titles and we sold around 50.000 copies of an album nobody believed in.
With an eye put on the European scene we were welcomed very well on the two gigs we did in Portugal before going again on tour in November with Tiamat in Germany which helped us to build our following there. Shortly afterwards we travelled to Poland and Czech Rep. to play the biggest festivals in our career back then with bands like Kreator and Testament and attendance's in the order of the 7000 people. We had enthusiastic reactions and became between 1995 and 1996 one of the most popular heavy metal bands in Poland with continuos tv broadcast.etc.
We started then preparing our second album and went back to Germany to participate on the Out of the Dark festivals I with Crematory, The Gathering and Secret Discovery. This tour was an overwhelming success and allowed us to present some new tracks to the audience and to break some t-shirts sales records! It was a very positive experience that ended on a Monday seven a.m. in Dortmund (Germany) the date we entered directly on studio two hours after to start working on our new album. Waldemar was behind the desk again but he had now a more mature band on his hands that knew exactly what they wanted. The result was our best so far in the shape of Irreligious a different album from Wolfheart of course and that turned into something we always wanted to do, regardless of the many critics we had because we changed. We accept them gladly, we wanted to change! On with the biography, I am sorry, we stopped a little bit the recordings to come to Portugal and play a gig with Mão Morta, and then finish the recordings of the album on mid May.
In the meanwhile we played on the Super Bock, Super Rock for the disgust of the promoter, and after recording our first video clip "opium" locate in the old and narrow streets of Lisbon we released the album first in Portugal on the best gig of our lives (and hopefully many of you out there) that took place on an old convenant (Convento do Beato) on the 12 of July 1996. We had promised something memorable to our fans and I hope that the almost 3000 people that came to see us have found a place for this memory in the deep of their wolfhearts. It was the first time we worked with our full tour production in Portugal and the result was beyond imagination. VIVA from Germany did a great special about Moonspell and everyone was astonished with the crowd reaction and the chemistry between Moonspell and them. So thank you all!
The album sold around 10000 units now in Portugal which is making history for this kind of outcast music and culture in our territory. Later followed the European release in Dortmund in the font of 1000 people in a fairly warm gig but an efficient one since the album broke into the German Top 50 and stayed there for eight entire weeks! This gig was followed by an one off gig at the PopKomm in Koln (Germany) and we returned Portugal to prepare ourselves for a 2 months European tour with Samael that occurred from September to early November resulting in a well succeeded tour that in Germany had a medium average of a thousand. The album broke into the Italian, Austrian, Finnish and Dutch charts in the meanwhile.
Lastly we got confirmed as the support band for Type O Negative European tour which was another dream come true for us. But before we headlined between two of the most famous Portuguese bands at the Lisbon Coliseum playing to an unforgettable 3000 audience that took over the show from us and to whom we thank so much and defy to do it once again. Back to Type O this was our real BIG tour playing to sold out arenas most of the times, conquering over a new audience, leaving other indifferent but all in all a highly profile tour with Dark Rock sex symbol himself : Mr Steele, thy good giant! ( I hope he does not have Internet) that together with a fantastic band and a fantastic crew made of this tour one unforgettable experience and one of the most vital steps on our history as a band.
In the meanwhile Irreligious sold more already (since August) than 50000 copies and Moonspell was voted by VIVA as the revelation band for 1996 leaving the strong Marilyn Manson and Korn behind. It was a good year definitely! Now we are trying to prepare our third album (SIN/PECADO), relaxing from all the intensive touring we did so far and going on and being stubborn enough to impose ourselves and our undeniable Portuguese flavour to all of you who are thirsty of honest and hopefully fresh Art! I hope it was not a so bad biography, I still count on my memory to do a lot of things but I am not a computer... Maybe I should erase this last comment?... December 1996.
After a really short break, we got together again in our old rehearsal place to find out and finally realize that Moonspell was well career wise but that there was something rotting in the core of the band, that are always the personal relationships and liberties, regardless of what you say to the exterior world. Between discussions and profound disagreements, things were getting personal and we were loosing the elegance that characterized our chemistry and hate was setting in. Fortunately now, we had no tours planned, and for the first time since late 1994 we had the time to think and analyze ourselves and our status. Of course, do not expect we gathered around a table and discussed it as civilized beings. We had music to do and music solved things at the end, bruising and healing the band. A lot was said about Ares getting out, especially by himself, and I must openly detach our elegance dealing with the subject, not answering to cheap provocations that came from a lot of sources and never giving importance to the stories created. The truth was what matter to us and its crude and complete version will always stay between these walls, really. Once I wrote for the page an emotional explanation of everything, that was abstract and poetic enough not to calm down the questions. Putting the finger on the wound for a few lines we parted way with Ares (nobody expelled anyone, no one is a victim of anyone) because we came to an unbearable situation when he wanted to put us at an inferior level, criticized rudely our work and most importantly not presenting anything in trade or as an alternative to his harsh and mindless criticism. He had forgot how to work either alone or with us since ages, you could recognize this on his playing and his terrible need of self promotion leaving the rest of us behind. He came to the point of believing Moonspell has his and him alone and we took this situation to the point of reflecting on it and creating a rupture. This happened in early February, and apparently in an amicable way, with Ares shaking our hands and wishing us luck, after we all reflected and decided Moonspell would go on without him. The definitive stage of the situation came later when he learnt that Ares registered Moonspell's name on his behalf, registered songs from Sin, deviating a rehearse tape through still unknown means to us, filling lawsuits against us and legal threats, not only breaking the professional deal that bounded us together to Century, but totally making the handshaking ritual ridiculously cynical and unbearable. We defended ourselves the ways we had to and even if the novel goes on for has the importance we give it, ranging from total despise to sleepless nights of revolt against the fact that we believed and supported a person that betrayed us and endanger the Moonspell future as much as he did. If everything he said about himself, if he had really been the composer and the leader he said he was, he?d compete with us, healthy, through his talent or his new project. Almost three years are gone and besides discovering uglier aspects of our pre and post relationship, I heard just insipid news and vain projects. I would rest my case here, if I could.
After the schock, we answered with music and work. We found out a new bass player Sergio C., that adapted to us in a perfect manner and still remains with us as you know, contributing now to the composition part of the band, as well. He came from an odd background of casinos and clubs, being an eclectic, practiced musician, that left Brazil to dedicate himself into playing music. His first experience was playing a track on an award party at the Lisbon Coliseum and he liked it, shame he didn't had the time to even warm up. He would warm up with MetalMania festival in Poland with 7000 people assisting and then on Dynamo Festival, on the main stage Saturday afternoon, one of the highlights of our live career as the very first and very only Portuguese Metal band to desecrate the mythical Eindovhen stage. The end of the year was completed by a small headliner tour with not much to tell.
The summer of 97 was divided between playing all the possible summer festivals in Europe and recording Sin, an album whose values and mistakes you have debated abundantly and that I probably will fail to add something else. Factually, the release of Sin brought us besides all the already debated, the golden chance of visiting the Lisbon Coliseum as headliners, playing to a sold out audience of 4000 brothers and countrymates, that like in 1996 stole the flame from us and gave it back in a way that words can not truly describe, truly! We got the silver records from both Irreligious and Sin on that night and marked some more territory, forgetting the problems, embracing the energy. We had also the chance always to expand and do a quick but memorable South American tour covering Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Mexico. To cut it short we nicknamed it the Ego Tour. Enough said then. Apart from the usual Summer engagements that included festivals like Roskilde, Bizarre, Artifacts this time, we had the privilege of playing Paredes de Coura, in one of the most beautiful stage we ever played in to an excellent Portuguese crowd. The experience was in fact so good that not even the always so right and critical could say bad things about it. We had also then the chance of a headliner experience throughout whole Europe, to scare away the ghosts. In a 50 dates trek, we sold out 10 venues, were met with enthusiasm and finally could exercise a full show of our own, something only possible and well done after 3 intense years of proudly supporting and learning. When we finished up this trek in Lisbon, almost 8 weeks after its start, we were not even tired, so glad were the memories of this experience we shared with Therion, Darkside and occasionally with Anathema.
December 1998, one year ago, come as a mostly resting period where we, nevertheless, started laying the foundations for our upcoming work that was already named and concepted at the time. Facing changes, originated by the different motivations and guidelines that were in our spirit at the time of its composition, we recruited a new producer Andy Reilly, to help us out to break some routines in Moonspell and to achieve our great goal with the butterfly album which was to come closer to an unique style, conciliating the soul of Moonspell with his contemporary presence and artistic context. At Trident Studios we think we achieved it, creating a powerful and different album, that is being welcomed with respect above all. Shortly before and after we had always live experiences from which I?d detach the travel to Istanbul and its peculiarities and the headlining at Printemps de Bourges festival in France, country that delivered us an unexpected but very welcome attention since the release of Sin, that accounted 12000 copies sold only on that territory ! Also relevant were the several headlining experiences on Portuguese festivals, with the bad note of a cancellation already explained to the ones who care.
With the butterfly release, lot of stuff happened and still is occurring, but I guess the highlight goes to our very first North American tour (details in here), where we finally encountered long time fans and paid a long due debt of never playing there. This time we co-headlined with the Swedish In Flames.
With an European tour already scheduled, little is left to be said, except that in the eventual case we survive the Great disaster, I do hope to see or perceive your faces on a crowd somewhere and that 3 years from now I can write down some more of this biography that nobody still knows the end of. The downs of writing about things that are alive and quite well to say the truth!
- Wolfheart (1995)
- Irreligious (1996)
- Sin/Pecado (1998)
- The Butterfly Effect (1999)
- Darkness and Hope (2001)
- The Antidote (2003)
- Memorial (2006)
- Under Satanæ (2007)
- Night Eternal (2008)
- Alpha Noir (2012)
- Extinct (2015)
- Anno Satanæ (1993)
- Under the Moonspell (1994)
- 2econd Skin (1997)
- Goat on Fire / Wolves from the Fog (1994)
- Opium (1996)
- Sin / Pecado (1997)
- Butterfly FX (1999)
- Nocturna (2001)
- Everything Invaded (2003)
- Finisterra (2006)
- The Last of Us (2015)
- Extinct (2015)
- Mortuary Vol. 1 (1993)
- Under The Moonspell / Dark Opera Of The Ancient War Spirit (Or Search The Light) (1995)
- Anno Satanæ (2012)
- Lusitanian Metal (2008)
- Live in Kracow '96 (1996)
- The Great Silver Eye (2007)
- Original Album Collection (2015)
- Lusitanian Metal (2008)
Miguel Gaspar - Drums (1992-present)
Pedro Paixão - Keyboards, Guitars (1992-present)
Fernando Ribeiro - Vocals (1992-present)
Ricardo Amorim - Guitars (1995-present), Keyboards (2006)
Aires Pereira - Bass (2004-present)
Ares - Bass (1992-1997)
Mantus - Guitars (1992-1995)
Malah - Guitars (1992-1993)
J.M. Tanngrisnir - Guitars (1993-1995)
Sérgio Crestana - Bass (1997-2003)