Portuguese dark metal veterans Moonspell show who’s who and what’s what on their latest release, ’Under Satanæ’, the potent re-recording of their debut EP as well as the ’Anno Satanæ’ demo.
One of the masters of darkness, drummer Nisroth (Mike), tells Powermetal.dk’s Thomas Nielsen what is going on in the world of Moonspell.
Mike, congrats on the successful remake of your first material! What possessed you to venture into this project?
The whole past for some reason was on our minds for a while. The last year or so. We had played Morocco and the fans down there for obvious reasons love Under The Moonspell! The show it self brought me to think of the image of our cover if it would be real. I felt like was in the cover of Under The Moonspell! Very eerie!? We also found many strange releases we did not know of. Like picture disc and normal vinyl. Not to mention all the bootlegs! The demo was also something many fans were curious about. SPV gave us the support we needed to bring this back into one great release! At first we thought we were nuts and it would be just another stupid remake from the past - but to our surprise it has brought us a lot of good fortune! I’m proud and so is the rest of the band! 15 years of the best dark music ever!
My fellow countryman Tue Madsen has become a household name over the past couple of years. What convinced you that he would be the right man for the production task this time and did everything work out well for you?
We heard of him through the Haunted. We are friends for a while and also toured with them in the past!! We knew of his talent but never really paid that much attention. When we wanted to do this we had a tight budget and little time to get it all reconstructed and ready for studio. We only had 2 weeks to do it all! Tue was the only man up for the job! Going into the unknown! New producer, new country - it was all a first experience kind of thing! We always know what to expect these days after so many albums. So for the spirit of these classics we found it was important to keep it exciting! We were kids again! It turned out to be the best experience ever! Tue is a true gentleman. He gave us a lot of confidence and the comfort we could only dream of!
The re-recording clearly shows that you have become a much more focused and professional band over the years. Where do you see the most important changes when you compare the original recordings and this new version?
Well, it’s a whole different world really. When we did it in the past we were in Portugal with the shit mentality. Metal is still not understood and producers, studios, even musicians just don’t know what the hell they are doing! Wolfheart was our first international recording and the difference is huge! And we weren’t that much older, maybe just a year or so had passed from Under the Moonspell. And the result was already enormous! We think that if these old songs had had the same opportunity that they also would have been classics. Finally now Moonspell have all the songs we ever did in the best quality and playing to our ability. We have worked hard and have our own studio. We work from Monday to Friday and even weekends when needed. Not to mention when we tour. I find all this to have made us a tight outfit and ready for any mayhem out there! Let’s tear it up!
What would you consider your biggest personal success with Moonspell?
For me I have to say if not for the band and all the people we have worked with I would be for sure another frustrated drummer that never got to see his dreams come true! And I have past that long, long time ago! In 94 we were underground with small gigs in the worst conditions possible. In 96 we toured with Type O Negative with Irreligious in the German charts! The biggest tour they ever did in Europe - we had up to 5000 people a night! We were the second band on the bill direct support to the headlines and we were having fun all the way. We played our hearts out! Not bad for a small band from the south, hee hee.
You have created dozens of tunes with hit potential, but ‘Irreligious’ was your greatest commercial success thus far. Why do you think that is this is the case?
That album was magic! Wolfheart is by far the album that our die hard fans love the most, but our second was just so refined, eloquent, beautiful, elegant! Words that was not so common in the Black metal extremes. But that is what caught the people. The lyrics were so popular and meaningful. Also the times were like that. That’s what the 90s was about really - Bringing the best tunes from the 80s mixing to the hard realities of the 90s and thus this style was born. Gothic Metal! Many bands were in the same vibe; Anathema, Tiamat, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Samael. This was our generation we helped build it and these are our friends. May we all burn in hell for what we have done! Hee hee… Just to add Ricardo was a big step on this album! It was his first recording with the band and he brought so much more melody and musicianship to our music. We even call him Irreligious some times, hee hee.
This summer you played the Wacken festival for the first time. How did you experience the day? I thought it was a shame that you were billed during the day – some of the drama and gloom of your act disappeared a bit in the sun, although the strength of your songs was undeniable as always.
That is always the problem when we have to play at day time. But Moonspell have gotten use to these for a while now. We couldn’t say no to some of the best festivals in Europe just because we insisted on the night time! So we worked at being more rock n roll. Getting everyone into the show with our raw energy and passion for our songs. Not easy at some moments but sure has paid off! The audience was on our side and there were so many! I felt as if I was back on The Dynamo open air back in 97 when we played. Great memories! And all the countries that travelled to be part of this great metal festival is so overwhelming! We had a great day and night! The backstage was full of great bands and friends. I was having a ball!
Have you ever considered reviving the Dæmonarch project or are all aspects covered by Moonspell these days?
No, that was a one time thing. I think Moonspell has become a bit Daemonarch and we like it that way?
Wolves seem to be a returning theme for Moonspell. What does the wolf represent for you?
Well, it was at first the spirit of the pack. The hunting together during the nights. The six wolves on the original Wolfheart cover represented each member. But from those wolves only 3 remain: Pedro, Fernando, and me. I see the wolf as a strong and powerful spirit that is always on our side. The struggle and pain that it feels when lost in the Moonlight. We too feel the same at times! Sad wolf eyes when all is lost. The anger and destruction in its battles. The blood on its wounds. The care for his pack and children - we are the same!
Fernando always had a poetic vein. Did he manage to publish any of his work – or is he planning to?
Fernando has been very busy with his books! He has already written 3 poetic releases! All in Portuguese, mind you. But very searched for - not only by our fans but many other dark souls. He has translated Lovecraft, a comic book version of his darkest tales! And at the moment he is translating the book Legend, which is also a movie with Will Smith that will be out soon. It’s about vampires! We are all very proud of him - few metal vocalists have done what he has! A great example for those who say metal heads are stupid, hee hee!
What is the music scene like in Portugal? I can hardly remember having even heard about other Portuguese metal bands?
It’s pretty sad I must say! We have no rock history. Only Fado, our traditional music, is a bit known around the world. It’s part of an elitist world music scene. We are the only ones for years who have done something for this style of music. We wished for many others to come like you see in Scandinavia! But the mentality and attitude is far from yours. So maybe it will be still a long time until we see another international act. Hope I’m wrong!
Who were the first bands to inspire you to get into music?
Van Halen, Motley Crue, were the first for sure! But when I was 13, all I wanted was good death and black metal! Bands like Bathory, Celtic frost, Morbid Angel, Death, Samael, Tiamat, Obituary, Carcass, Darkthrone , Paradise Lost and so many others. The 90s were full of them! OH, and the mighty brothers Sepultura! We feel like them sometimes. Same language, weird country for metal - and many problems, hee hee. We love them and respect them for what they did for Brazil! Do Caralho Mesmo!
Name the five albums that the world couldn’t have existed without and why.
Dead Can Dance-Into the Labyrinth
Morbid Angel-Blessed are the sick
They all represent times of my life when I most needed them. To explain why is sometimes hard. It just touches my heart full of great memories when all felt lost!
Mike, thanks a million for answering my questions. Any rants for our readers?
Mike: Thanks a lot for the interview! It was really cool! Loved the questions!
We will be back in Denmark for our new album with Tue - we love it there! So many nice people that love music! The food and beer is great! What can we ask for more!? Denmark rocks!
Stay Under The spell!