Portuguese extreme metallers Moonspell mix their metal with a gothic majesty to create music that is high on ambience and grandeur. The band have recently released their latest album 1755, an album sung entirely in their native Portuguese. We had a chat with the band to hear all about the new album and its themes, their recent tour with Cradle Of Filth and touring with Gorgoroth and Danzig, the bands goth and black metal influences and the metal scene in Portugal then and now.
Your new album 1755 is out now, how did the recording of the album go?
Very well. For us it’s a step forward and we’re content that we worked hard enough to portrait a powerful representation of an historical fact that is so essential and symbolic for Portugal. We felt creating something a bit different from our norm and it felt right and good and the fans loved it too. Tue Madsen produced it and he made it sound killer while having a great time in the studio.
Is there any significance to the title of the new album?
1755 is the year and 1st of November was the day when Portugal was grabbed violently by a quake, fires and tsunamis and thrown out of the Middle Ages and placed finally on the late 18th century. Rough but fascinating. We started by learning it on the classrooms and for sure it stuck to me while I grew up until I could come close enough to grasp the many symbols, and the overwhelming societal, political and religious it brought. It’s no secret that Moonspell loves to sing about the apocalypse, the last days on earth and what might follow, and Lisbon earthquake was just that but i our own country, in the city we were born.
Is 1755 a concept album?
Yes it is.
How did you link all the songs together to make them all sound cohesive as an album?
I guess the story helped a lot to be honest. Writing for this album was like writing to a script that must have a coherent line so we tried the songs to have that feeling they all belong to the same album and are chapters to a story, or concept.
The album is extremely atmospheric and features lots of symphonic parts and female vocals. Was it always your intention to have the album sound this way or did it all come together as you were creating it?
People who don’t write music have some trouble with the chronology of events. All I can say it’s that’s both. Arrangements normally come after when the song is structured but these days, you can take a peep at the “final”result or at least simulate it more properly. Moonspell songwriting goes as far as we can in a song and again all ideas, the religious female choirs, the symphonic, they are all telling bits and pieces from the concept.
The album is sung completely in your native Portuguese. Did you decide to do this due to what the album is about?
Yes. To be more genuine to the concept. That was the sole reason and it kinda worked for us. the album is about the great disaster that took place in Lisbon in 1755 and destroyed it. It also tells about what happened after and how Portugal changed the face of Europe and how modern atheism, fro example, was a “positive” outcome from a otherwise destructive cataclysm.
You are toured with Cradle Of Filth earlier this year. How did those dates go?
It was awesome, on and off stage and we look forward to do it again, anytime, any place.
Did you play much new material on the tour?
As it was a support tour, we had just 60 minutes and yes played a lot from the new album, 6 songs out of 10, it was also a small conceptual show every night.
What is your favourite Moonspell dong to play live?
You’ve toured with Cradle Of Filth in the past, how long have you known each other and do you get along well with the band?
Oh yes. Like I said we know Dani and the former line up since the nineties and have stuck together as friends through the thick and thin of our bands and admire each other a lot. it was our first time touring with this line up and they are wonderful, all of them, one of the best line-ups they ever had.
You toured with Cradle and Gorgoroth on The Darkest Tour: Filthfest How was that tour?
One of our best tours ever! The line up was amazing, Septic Flesh was there as well, it was packed everywhere, some drama as Gaahl had just came out of the closet and there was a lot of commotion with the press and whatnot but all bands rocked together and had a wonderful time.
You also played on the Blackest Of The Black tour with Danzig, Dimmu Borgir, Skeletonwitch and Winds Of Plague. How was that experience?
Crazy and good. It was a bit out of our league most of the times but I got to see Danzig every night and that’s a dream come true, to meet him and tou with him.
Who would you love to tour with in the future?
Ghost. I really ove their setup, music and theatrics.
Will you be playing any of the big festivals this summer?
No. It’s hard to get on those bills now and they want you to play almost for free and at a shit slot so we are doing other festivals instead that are also quite good and with lots of fans but not so much confusion as well.
What are your favourite festivals to play, when you get the chance?
Nummirock Finland as it never gets dark! Also Heaven And Hell in Mexico, great hospitality, great bill, Graspop and Alcatraz in Belgium, Summer Breeze in Germany. Festivals are fun.
Moonspell have roots in black metal, is that a style of music you still listen to?
Not really, just older bands mainly, I’m also not into post black metal that much.
What was the black metal scene like in the early 90s when it was at its most notorious?
Creatively great, socially a disaster. many good bands and musicians were lost in violence and they all retreat but also some of the best albums were made in that exact same time. Black metal grew to the point of rupture, stagnated and now is something a bit of the same all the time and many of the good bands evolved as well like Ulver who were a great black metal band but now became like musical geniuses forme with their last album
What are your favourite black metal albums of all time?
The first four Bathory albums, Mayhem – De Mysteris Dom Sathanas and Root Hell Symphony.
You have always had a strong gothic influence in your music too. How did you get into goth music initially?
We always loved dark music and there was time metal wasn’t that dark so we started looking for bands like Dead Can Dance, Sisters Of Mercy and Fields Of The Nephilim. We changed our sound into that direction also because of Type O Negative who did music we had never heard before and took us by storm.
What is the Portuguese metal scene like nowadays?
The Portuguese scene has great talent since the 80’s, bands like Iberia, Joker, Tarantula, The Coven, Thormenthor, to the likes of our Black Metal peers when we started like Decayed or FNI or even the best Portuguese band ever in my opinion Bizarra Locomotiva, a metal industrial combo, that you have to catch live to understand. Talent was never a problem and it went on with newer bands such as Ironsword, Process of Guilt, Quartet of Woah, Rasgo, etc.There’s a big and varied scene and I am myself signing a new Death Metal band called The Okkultist in my label Alma Mater Records. So things are happening even if its too slow for our ambitions as a scene.
You have been with Napalm Records since 2011, that’s a long time especially these days. How is your relationship with the label?
It’s great. there’s a lot of honesty and mutual respect and we get along creatively. that’s all we need. they know our potential, we know our place in the label, and thats how it works so fine.
What were your top three albums of 2017?
Ulver- The Assassination Of Julius Caesar, Summoning- With Doom We Come, Sorcerer- The Return Of The Fire King.
Who were your main inspirations as a musician?
Quorthon from Bathory, Peter Steele from Type O Negative and Nick Cave.
Moonspell formed back in 1992, what have been the highlights of the band over the past twenty five years?
The highlight is still being here. From our career I choose the 1996 when we supported Type O Negative in their European tour for October Rust. They were back then our absolutely favorite band and our number one on our touring wishlist and it did happen.
What does the rest of 2018 hold for Moonspell?
Touring. We just completed Europe, Russia and Latin America. Now it’s festivals and Portuguese dates and then in September it’s North America US and Canada with Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Ominum Gatherum.