Irreligious Inquiries
Metal Speak with Moonspell
by: Gino Filicetti
Intro and write up by: Steve Hoeltzel

If any band currently seems poised to make the leap from underground obscurity to international big-name status in near record time, the Portuguese goth-metal five-piece Moonspell is it. In just a few short years, this quintet has displayed remarkable musical development, beginning with the fairly raw 1994 EP, _Under the Moonspell_, progressing through the inventive gothic-black metal blend of _Wolfheart_, and culminating in this year's highly anticipated _Irreligious_. This work showcases a band masterfully fusing pure metallic power with the lush textures, somber ambience, and dynamic arrangements of the best gothic rock. CoC recently caught up with bass player Ares to talk about the new album and the group who put it together.

CoC: What has the band been up to since the release of _Irreligious_?

Ares: We've been busy with promotion: we did a promotion tour in Germany, and we did two release parties, one in Lisbon and another in Dortmund. After that we did one more show, the Pop Kom festival in Germany, as special guests at the Samael release party. In the meantime we have returned to Portugal, and I've tried to enjoy two really short weeks of holidays, since we spent the entire month of August in the rainy Germany. In between, there have been lots of interviews and other promo activities and obligations. We will now start practicing, because on the 12th of September our first European tour for _Irreligious_ will set off, this time with Samael and Rotting Christ. I'm particularly excited to go on tour, because this album is way more pleasant to play live than _Wolfheart_, and because we've been hitting some of the European charts, which means that the response might be good.

CoC: Let's talk about the new album. How long have you been working on it?

A: As far as I can remember, we made most of the songs between July, August, and September last year. We were about to leave the Morbid Angel tour and we wanted to record the basics, since the tour was a long tour and we wanted to work on the songs on the road. In fact, during our third tour - the one with The Gathering - we already played two or three new songs. We took all the free time we had between all the touring to compose new stuff, and we would even try some of the new ideas on sound checks. We usually take about one year in between every new recording: it's about the exact time needed for us to compose and record it.

CoC: When did you enter the studio to record the album and where was this?

A: Once again we recorded in the Woodhouse studios in Germany, with Waldemar Sorychta (Tiamat, Samael, Grip Inc.). We recorded the album in May and July. This time we had a bigger studio budget and more time to do it.

CoC: This album seems to show many more elements to it than _Wolfheart_ did. How do you think you've grown since the last record?

A: We have grown in a natural way, learning, accomplishing and working very hard. We are young people, and we are eager to always achieve what we want as our goals, so we learn, develop, and progress. That's the only way to satisfy ourselves: doing what we like in the best way we can.

CoC: How is the chemistry among band members?

A: Not so good anymore. Right now, I'm not getting any friendly vibes from the other members. There have been some different opinions, and we've been discussing all that, but I don't know about the future. I wish we could be the best of friends again.

CoC: Is there any one member who contributes more to the music than any other?

A: Probably me, the keyboard player, and the guitarist. Fernando writes the lyrics, and Mike helps with the arrangements. Usually we all need to like it, and we all suggest several different ways to do the song, but the music is mainly composed by the three of us.

CoC: What themes do your lyrics deal with?

A: Women, decadence, misery, life and death, hate and love - all of this, mixed with a bit of fantasy. We are going toward a more personal and realistic kind of lyrics, but we'll always involve our lyrics with a veil of mysticism. I guess subtle is the word.

CoC: You seem to draw from many influences. Can you name some of the things that have inspired you during the writing and recording of _Irreligious_?

A: Hunger, despair, anguish, desolation, misery, ruin, depression, pain and wrath!

CoC: How is your local scene in Portugal?

A: Lots of demo tape bands and lots of joke bands - but I would recommend Heavenwood and Inhuman. Both are pretty much atmospheric, melodic, and keyboard oriented.

CoC: Not too many bands emerge from a country like Portugal. Why do you think this is so?

A: Probably because most of them simply lack knowledge of what's needed to promote themselves, and to know what's really happening outside Portugal. Until one or two years ago, 90% of the bands didn't know that there is a huge, sophisticated underground scene abroad. They'd rather occupy their time doing something else besides practicing, so...

CoC: Are musical pursuits encouraged or discouraged in your country?

A: It depends. If we were a pop, politically correct and easy-to-listen-to band, we would be supported and fed for the rest of our lives. But since our music is somehow subversive and defies many taboos, they try to make our progress difficult. We are not accepted in the Portuguese charts, but we sell more than half of the bands there.

CoC: How has Century Media been as a label for you?

A: So far so good. We can't complain: everything we have asked for they have given us - but I just wonder about the future. We have been doing well, sales-wise; therefore they are fine with us - but I can't stop thinking if in the future we don't sell as much as nowadays or even more will they still support us? The deal we have is for six albums and is better for the label than for us, so no matter how much we sell we'll never see a penny. It's not such a generous deal, and despite all our good and increasing sales we are not rich or rock stars. We're in the Austrian, Finnish, German, Italian, and Portuguese charts, but we are still poor people and we just want to be pleased with what we do. Maybe we can change the situation, but it will take some time before we can do it.

CoC: What are some of your most memorable moments from being on tour for the last album?

A: Getting robbed in Rome, watching the crowd enjoy us more than any other band, driving around the Scandinavian landscapes, and shitting in the Norwegian woods. Usually I think the only good thing about touring is going on stage every night and feeling the magic moment of playing. Anything else simply disgusts me - I hate touring and I hate being away from Portugal.

CoC: Why do you write/play music?

A: Simply because it's the art form I've found where I can express better what I think and feel about certain things. This is not a permanent state: I can drop music and start drawing or writing, which is something I used to do before I got into music. Everything started as an experiment, and now we are engaged with this lifestyle. I try to be careful in order not to let me get dragged down too much by the business side of it.

CoC: What is your dream in life? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: To make my mother come back to life; to give my little sister all she needs to grow strong and wise; and to build a secure present for me and my girlfriend. These are the only persons I care about. Anything else just doesn't matter to me.

(article submitted 11/10/1996)


CHATS
1/25/2004 J Smit Moonspell: Under the Spell of the Antidote
ALBUMS
6/22/2008 K Sarampalis 9 Moonspell - Night Eternal
12/2/2007 J Ulrey 8.5 Moonspell - Under Satanae
5/15/2006 J Smit 9.5 Moonspell - Memorial
9/21/2003 J Smit 9 Moonspell - The Antidote
8/12/2001 C Flaaten 7 Moonspell - Darkness and Hope
3/10/1998 P Azevedo 6 Moonspell - Sin/Pecado
12/13/1995 G Filicetti 8 Moonspell - Wolfheart
GIGS
8/12/1997 P Azevedo Scorpions / Megadeth / Moonspell / Cradle of Filth / Anger Porto's Own Metalfest?
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