BW&BK Interview: MOONSPELL – Into The Arena

By Carl Begai

Folks on this side of the music industry desk will tell you that the vast majority of press releases and band biographies are loaded with hollow bullshit. Many of these essays are too bloated with adjectives, mixed metaphors and blatant flavor-of-the-month ass-kissing to be taken seriously, often peppered with keywords and band names popular at the time and space in question, or yanked from a Wikipedia heavy metal page. These things raced through my head while scanning the bio for Moonspell’s newest outing, Alpha Noir, wondering out loud more than once if the newbie dweeb hired to write it had ever heard of the band before. Dropping names like Bathory and King Diamond as influences to describe an act hailed as one of the few and true remaining old school goth metal bands was absurd to the point of insulting.

Give Alpha Noir a spin and you’ll discover the description is dead on.

“I’ll let you in on a little secret,” frontman Fernando Ribeiro grins. “I tend to write those things myself. It’s not that I don’t trust someone else to do it, but I like to write and I think that sometimes the people at the record labels kind of miss the point. A lot of labels have many bands, and sometimes the people that write the press releases have to do it in a rush. I’d rather make things a bit more personal by doing it myself, so I’m glad you found everything in the press release to be true (laughs). With all the metaphors and poetry and personal notes that we put into the press releases, it’s good to know that people check out the new songs and realize that we’re not just blabbering and self-praising. We really tried to give people a clear view of what’s going on with Alpha Noir.”

For fans of Moonspell’s previous efforts such as Night Eternal (2008), Darkness And Hope (2001), or the legendary Irreligious (1996), actually hearing strains of Bathory and King Diamond within new songs like ‘Opera Carne’ and ‘Lickanthrope’ is downright disconcerting. Moonspell is supposed to be a goth band.

“You know your metal,” Ribeiro laughs, unapologetic for the scare.

In actual fact, Alpha Noir is two albums in one, splitting the Moonspell personality down the middle. Where Alpha Noir is full-on metal – because no other label does it justice – the gothic stamp is definitely on the second part, dubbed Omega White. The package as a whole continues the band’s tradition of diversifying themselves with each release, but there was no way anyone could have expected Moonspell to go as far as they have in both shedding their gothic sound and embracing it simultaneously.

“This probably isn’t the logical sequel to Memorial (2006) and Night Eternal,” Ribeiro agrees. “I think there are some really intense headbanging moments on Alpha Noir, but like every Moonspell album we treated this one very seriously. When we put a new album out we have to consider the novelty of it at all times, which has to do with the fact that Moonspell was born in the underground at a time when metal was really expanding. The bands and the fans were willing to take chances with new music. As that metal scene has gotten older, sometimes I find it hard to be surprised by new bands. I think that there’s a restlessness or something that can’t be predicted that is a characteristic of Moonspell.”

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