Re-releases and re-recordings are iffy sometimes, as many of them reek of money making schemes, but then there are the exceptions, where it actually makes sense. MOONSPELL's "Under Satanae" album is one of these, for various reasons. The first and most obvious one is that the legendary "Under The Moonspell" EP from 1994 (released via now de-funct French Adipocere Records label) is utterly unavailable anywhere these days and I will not even start with the preceding promo and demo tracks. Also the sound quality had not been bad, but was nowhere near today's standards, so instead of just slapping the same old masters together for a quick buck, Steamhammer/SPV and MOONSPELL came up with the plan to completely re-record the whole thing (with the exception of one song) in Tue Madsen's Antfarm Studios and give the fans the full experience of early MOONSPELL.
In my case "Under The Moonspell" had been my second contact with the Portuguese after their brilliant "Wolfheart" album, so it has a spot in my heart and I was happy to read about being able to hear the old songs in a new production and it definitely has done them good, a lot of good actually, because they now have the clarity and power they had been lacking over 13 years ago. The foundation was melodic Black Metal, but far removed from the usual blastbeat with keyboards orgies, but with a lot more rhythmic variety, more expression, far less speed and with some Arabic melodies woven into the songs, garnished with Fernando Ribeiro's unique trademark growl and his deep, expressive clear voice (often also used spoken), as herald of the grand deeds that were still to come. For more in-depth information on the first six songs of this release, please refer to my review of "Under The Moonspell".
Three of the remaining four tracks are taken from the "Anno Satanae" demo and they stand in full tradition of the EP and it is very good to hear that these songs are now also regularly available, "Goat In Fire" is the probably strongest song, while "Ancient Winter Goddess" is somewhat faster overall, with a stronger Black Metal feel to it, and at the very end there is an even bigger jewel in form of "Serpent Angel", which even precedes MOONSPELL and harks back to their MORBID GOD days, being the most Black Metal-influenced song of the whole compendium.
Musically the old and new MOONSPELL have grown quite a bit apart and many people would enjoy a step back towards their early days again, you never know maybe redoing these old songs might have ignited some old sparks again ;)
(Online January 15, 2008)