Moonspell - _Under Satanae_
(SPV / Steamhammer, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
After last year's masterful and oh-so-well received "comeback" effort, _Memorial_, eager fans awaited word on what the band would do next: would they follow through on the blacker goth musings or revert back to a cleaner "rock" sound (or something altogether different)? Time will tell, as this year's _Under Satanae_ consists of re-recordings, but considering this is all material predating their first album, the much loved _Wolfheart_, fans of the "back to their roots" aspects of _Memorial_ will be well pleased with the forward momentum.First off are the five tracks comprising 1994's debut MCD, _Under the Moonspell_, here with an additional interlude. The re-recordings benefit greatly from the additional clarity, with the choral and symphonic elements more to the fore and Fernando Ribeiro alternating deftly between death and clean vocals. The enhanced quality highlights the early EP as one of the band's strongest and most lasting efforts, with the "Tenebrarum Oratorium" pieces especially holding up well.Next up is the _Anno Satanae_ demo sans the intro and outro, paring it down to three reasonably lengthy tracks. I'm not sure this all flows gracefully from the first half of the album, comprising almost entirely their most blackened material. It remains majestic and epic, yet it lacks the extra-instrumental refinements of the EP; but damn if that demo couldn't have used a re-recording. Recording quality aside -- and I've never heard _Anno Satanae_ without drop outs and the usual mangled tape problems -- the versions on _Under Satanae_ (yeah, I know, the titles get confusing) are instrumentally superior in every way. The demo showed a promising young band with good songwriting prowess, but also one that wasn't especially nimble on the fretboard, botched triplets and missed solo notes absolutely abounding.Wrapping up this affair is a little ditty the band recorded back when they were still called Morbid God: "Serpent Angel". This one takes the cake for the most black metal-like of all the re-recordings, although it too has its share of typical Moonspell moments, such as the acoustic break, occasional death riffs and choir backing vocals. All in all, a very worthy addition to the catalog, and one that bodes well for future endeavors.
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