Originally written by Tim Pigeon
As I was in the process of writing about how I enjoyed this new turn that Moonspell had taken, I decided to dig a little, and realized that this release is a re-recording of very old demo and EP tracks. So apparently, Moonspell was doing things right from day one before taking a mid-career diversion into very gothic stuff that I didn’t care much for, but they have since righted the ship. The sound of these early works is definitely rooted in black metal, but there is a strong folky influence.
The demos and EPs represented are Anno Satanae and Under the Moonspell, from the 1992-1994 period. But when recorded with modern-day, quality production, these songs don’t sound dated at all. The first part of “Tenebrarum Oratorium” is a rocking track, with a symphonic black metal edge early on. Organ-like keys are used to good effect, although rare female vocals give the song an odd Cradle of Filth-like vibe. The riffage is pretty thrashy, although they work in some ethnic string instrumentation late in the song. There are a few short acoustic instrumentals between the more substantial songs, and they are somewhat interesting. The next real song is part two of “Tenebrarum Oratorium”, and it too rocks. They lean on the tremolo picking, but the songwriting is varied enough to hold your attention. The song slows right down after about two minutes, ever-so-slowly building back up through acoustic guitaring, a noodly solo, and an eerie chanting section.
The latter half of the album is from the Anno Satanae demo, and they have a different feel to them. The tempo of “Ancient Winter Goddess” is a little more upbeat – has anyone coined the term “Black’n’Roll”? Meanwhile, “Goat on Fire” and “Wolves from the Fog” have a darker, slightly doomy atmosphere, but with plenty of standard, haunted black riffage.
Under Satanae may be comprised of older songs, but I’m sure most have never heard these demos before. The songs chosen stand up well against their current output, so interest should not be limited only to the life-long Moonspell followers. Check this album out for an interesting twist on a familiar blackened sound.