Under The Moonspell (The Early Years Collection)

Alma Mater
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

Anno Satanae
01. Intro
02. Goat On Fire
03. Ancient Winter Goddess
04. Wolves From The Fog
05. Outro
06. Serpent Angel
07. The Fever

Under Satanae
08. Halla alle halla al rabka halla (Praeludium/Incantatum Solistitium)
09. Tenebrarum Oratorium I (Andamento I/Erudit Compendyum)
10. Interludium/Incantatum Oequinoctum
11. Tenbrarum Oratorium II (Andamento II/Erotic Compendyum)
12. Opus Diabolicum (Andamento III/Instrumental Compendyum)
13. Chorai Lusitania! (Epilogus/Incantatam Maresia)
14. Goat On Fire
15. Ancient Winter Goddess
16. Wolves from The Fog
17. Serpent Angel

Under The Moonspell
18. Allah Akbar! La Allah Ella (Praeludium/Incantatum Solstitium)
19. Tenebrarum Oratorium I (Andamento I/Erudit Compendyum) (Interluduium/Incantatum Oequinoctium)
20. Tenebrarum Oratorium II (Andamento II/Erotic Compendyum)
21. Opus Diabolicum (Andamento III/Instrumental Compendyum)
22. Chorai Lusitania! (Epilogus/Incantatam Maresia)

MOONSPELL's earliest works are revered for many reasons, but principal among them is the sense of otherworldliness and dark romance that permeated every primitive note. By most agreed standards, the Portuguese legends were a more sophisticated and poetic bunch than the black-hearted average, and with an unpredictable streak that stood out from the start. 30 years on from their now legendary demos, MOONSPELL have generously remastered and reassembled them, with the added bonus of 2007's re-recorded "Under Satanae" compilation (also remastered) to demonstrate how these tentative compositions easily stood the test of time.

One of the most consistent bands around, MOONSPELL have been on particularly imperious form in recent years, as showcased on 2021's miraculous "Hermitage" full-length. But even as they continue to evolve and mutate away from their humble origins, they have always retained strong atmospheric and musical links to the material on "Under The Moonspell" and "Anno Satanae": the two recordings that first established the band's sumptuously gloomy aesthetic. Returning to them now, the surprising and adventurous trajectory that MOONSPELL later took now makes a great deal of sense. Whether through rich orchestrations, nods to the avant-garde or an overall sense of irreligious profundity, songs like "Goat On Fire" and "Serpent Angel" struck the perfect balance between the ugliness of late '80s underground metal and the lugubrious affectations of dark, gothic art. Whether in its original or re-recorded form, the majestic melodrama of "Ancient Winter Goddess" elegantly sums up the band's early years precocity. Similarly, the original, newly remastered "Under The Moonspell" has weathered the last three decades incredibly well. MOONSPELL would become more adept at hiding their most obvious influences (CELTIC FROST among them),  but the breadth of their ambition was always abundantly clear, and meandering epics like "Tenebrarum Oratorium I" were tangible proof. Having been cleaned up and imbued with a little contemporary sonic oomph, all of these songs are now sounding at their absolute, crystal-clear best (which may still annoy old-school purists who prefer listening to everything on cassette, but you can't please everyone).

Recorded at a time when black metal was tightening its grip on the underground, MOONSPELL refused to be shackled to someone else's way of doing things. As "Under The Moonspell" shows, these shadowy immortals were following their own, unique, left-hand path from the very beginning.

Author: Dom Lawson
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