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The past is alive - 97%

RedMisanthrope, December 7th, 2007

I'm not going to use my usual bag of tricks to disguise my incompetence as a reviewer (humor, a brief history of the band, etc.). I'm just going to tell you that "Under Satanae" is a re-recording of Moonspell’s ancient works from "Under the Moonspell", "Anno Satanae", and their only track under the moniker Morbid God, "Serpent Angel". And it's fucking awesome.

Any devout Moonspell fan, such as myself, will tell you that they almost never repeat themselves between albums. The same goes for this one, except they almost never between SONGS in this one. Variety is the key word here folks. Moonspell has crafted and brought together an absolute hodge podge of an album, covering a huge amount of subjects, instruments, and even "cultural feels". I'll elaborate on that in the next paragraph.

The opening instrumental "Halla alle halla al rabka halla (Praeludium/Incantatum Solistitium)" is straight out of the middle east. It'll make you want to get up, strip to your birthday suit, and dance around a camp fire. This is all before the sudden appearance of the epic "Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento I/Erudit Compendyum)", with keys so majestic it would make a Bal-Sagoth fan take notice. Herein lies the beauty of the album. One minute you're dancing by a camp fire, the next you're in the deepest parts of a mysterious jungle preforming some weird ritual, then you're in stuck in a creepy bog surrounded by wolves, then suddenly a slithering acoustic chord takes you deep in the heart of Egypt. Exciting isn't it?

Every instrument in this album plays it's part. The drums are stronger here than in any Moonspell release in my opinion. They're tribal, swift, and crushing when they need to be. The guitars hold everything together very nicely and just about every song has a riff that will drive you into a savage, metal frenzy. The serpentine bass, while inaudible at some points, has an almost jazzy feel to it and has more than one shining moment. No matter what the mood or feel of the song, the instruments always conform to fit it. This includes Fernando Ribeiro's voice.

Wheather it's the shouting vocals in "Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento II/Erotic Compendyum)", the haunting croon of "Opus Diabolicum" (which could pass as doom metal), or his straight up black metal shrieking "Goat on Fire", his voice never fails to disappoint and is in absolute top form. His lyrics are fascinating as always and cover various occult topics, fitting the very "obscure" feel of the songs.

Overall I'd have to say that the "Anno Satanae" section of the album is the best. It's full of vitality, aggression, and fire. If you aren't headbanging by the first minute and a half of "Ancient Winter Goddess", there is something very wrong with you. It's almost as if Moonspell's 18 again, straight out of Bathory Worship Camp with that original passion that every band loses eventually. "Serpent Angel" is a remarkable closing track as well, wherein Fernando begs "Father Satan/Send the serpent" behind demonic choirs old school black metal riffing. It's a notable way to close such an experience.

This is a must for any Moonspell fan, new or old, who wants to see what the band was up to in the early days, or who wants to hear some classics injected with new life. This is also highly recommended for anyone who's looking for anything "different". Either way it's an album that's worthy of a look, no matter what kind of metal you're in to.