An Exclusive Interview with Dark Metal Pioneers Moonspell!

The Portuguese wolverines are back!
The Dark Metal pioneers Moonspell are considered as one of the most respected and most influential bands of the genre for more than 20 years, and one of the things this band has always been good at is creating musical experiences that keep the focus and the intensity for the course of their albums, music that is high on ambience and grandeur.

The band’s latest studio record, “1755”, outclasses all standards you have ever heard from Moonspell before, sung in their native language it’s the musical version of the year of horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon and this tragic event still belongs to one of the disastrous catastrophes in European history and nature.

This album is a dark adventure, breathtaking and completely earthshaking! With their performance, arrangements, and ability to capture the magic on “tape” the band has painted a world that embraces the listener with its intensity and ambiance. From the first second, the conceptual dramaturgy of Moonspell’s “1755” feels like a detonation of the mind. A musical masterpiece and the dark adventure into medieval times. “1755” is available to pre-order – HERE!

The band’s biography, written by Ricardo S.Amorim, with a foreword by Dani Filth, is available in Portuguese via Saida de Emergencia (one of top Portugal’s publisher) and will be translated to English and Spanish for a late 2018 release via Alma Mater Books, Fernando Ribeiro’s (lead singer) own publishing house. His poetic anthology Purgatorial is now available in English.

Today we’d like to bring to your attention this interview with these masters of the dark art! The following interview is taken exclusively for Rock Arena. Enjoy it!


– Hello, Guys and welcome to Rock Arena! Moonspell has been one of the leaders in Gothic/Dark Metal for over two decades… What has inspired you to compose such beautifully dark music consistently through the years? Looking back at the career, how do you view the legacy?

Fernando Ribeiro: Thank you, Toni. Many bands have inspired us, especially in the way that they set the genre and then evolved and experimented as well inside it. Bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, Type O Negative, Sisters of Mercy, Fields on the Nephilim were all important in conjuring Moonspell up. I never think about Moonspell in terms of legacy for anyone, that’s far-reaching. I only hope that to some people, that proverbial grain of sand we left a mark and gave them good and important times.

– You have had many good albums but the new one titled ‘1755’ is a culmination of everything that makes MOONSPELL a great band. What is the idea behind the concept and what do you say in this particular album?

♦MOONSPELL: The 1st of November 1755 was the very day that the destruction of Lisbon allowed Portugal to catch up with Europe, in terms of a more fair society and a less oppressing religion. This day was like if Portugal was grabbed violently by the earthquake, fires, and tsunamis that happened that day and thrown out of the Middle Ages and placed finally in the late 18th century. Rough but fascinating.

We all learn this history of death and rebirth in the classrooms of the country and for me, it always struck me as a great concept. I confessed I waited for a few years but it seems that now, especially in a Portugal that was punished by violent fires and bad political decisions, everything around us brought this album together.

The earthquake is ultra symbolic but the true story is nothing but Lisbon falling down and rising from the ashes through hope, effort, true faith that was once wasted in fearing God. The idea was to tell this story to the world musically speaking, adding epic, symphonic elements, classical choirs and whatnot.

– Who writes the music and the lyrics, who’s the producer? What were the biggest challenges of this dark musical adventure, and what is the main difference between ‘1775’ and the previous albums of the band?

♦MOONSPELL: I wrote all the lyrics and search for all stories and concepts e find worthwhile to write music about. The biggest challenge is o stay creative and not to offer exactly to thefts what they expect but to take some twists and turns, it’s more dangerous but allows us the freedom to come up with an album sung in Portuguese, for example, as it is the case with 1755. Also compared to Extinct is a more metal oriented album, faster and more aggressive simply also because it tells the tale of a great disaster.

– For the first time ever, MOONSPELL’s album is sung in Portuguese…tell us more about it?

Fernando Ribeiro: I believe that was the fair choice to do. With an album about an event that took place in Portugal, we thought the use of our own language would lead us closer to the concept. To our surprise, it adds to the experience of the non-Portuguese speaking fan, and that really made us happy because it meant, regardless the language, you can tell a good story and people can understand it.

– Let’s talk about the new tracks ‘Evento’ and ‘Todos Os Santos’…Who wrote these two songs, and what’s the story there? What captures your attention and makes you write a song?

Fernando Ribeiro: We all write together in a way but I believe that ‘Evento’ started off a bass line from Aires and Pedro and Ricardo picked up the pieces and made a great song even to is one of the lyrics of the second half of the album where people are resigning to what happened to them and feeling God forget them.

‘Todos os Santos’ was written by Ricardo mostly and it was a well-done collage of many parts. I wrote the chorus with Pedro and Ricardo, and that really developed the song to another level. It’s a song about the hypocrisy of saints as we’re all made form the same shitty clay and unable to save each other. My attention is captured when we play it all together as a band, that’s the final test to yes or no.

– Each album is something different; you’re always trying to do your own unique things. What is the one most powerful element that drives you as individuals and as a band to master your Metal creations with endless fever and euphoria? Is it the live fury – the energy around, is it the philosophy in your lyrics, telling tales from eternity or…?

♦Fernando Ribeiro: Nothing but to be creative while telling a story that matters, historically or poetically. I grew up with Metal fascinating me. It was either Celtic Frost picking up Baudelaire or Morbid Angel evoking the Necronomicon. There was always novelty up to 1998 when things changed and Metal bands started writing about Vikings and dragons and pseudo-science fiction and war and it was all dungeons and dragons again, which left me shocked and cold.

So I try, with Moonspell, to keep things smart and worthwhile for both sides. Nobody needs a new folk metal band or a band singing about Odin, so maybe there’s still some room for dark fantasy like the classic authors liked it: deep and scary.

– Do you have new ideas and intentions of experimenting with other genres in music? If you are asked to write music for a movie soundtrack, what would be the perfect genre in cinema that would create the most powerful Cinergy with your music?

♦Fernando Ribeiro: I think that’s the wet dream of any musician which aspires to visuality is to write for the movies or games. But we never had that break and for sure never will, I am that dead sure. Of course, I have big ideas and there are so many stories and series about possibly everything that I could write the script to a navigators series, and my band could do the soundtrack, Metal or Ambiental, that would be so nice. but at the age of 43, 26 years in a band, it’s time to start packing and maybe burying some of your dreams.

– You toured and played almost all around the world and I wonder which is the band that made you feel like home… What has been your most memorable touring experience so far?

Fernando Ribeiro: Yeah we tour almost non stop since 1995 and of course the memories are many, some better, some best forgotten. I have to be honest, I toured so much that sometimes, some years are like a blur of instability. I don’t or I can’t remember everything.

My best tour memory was when we were carrying our equipment to a Finnish hall, in 1996, supporting Type O in Europe, and some fans go to Josh Silver, keyboard player and ask him: are you Portuguese. We look at us carrying stuff and he says: unfortunately not and he comes by and gives us a hand. That was great humor in a private moment with one of our musical heroes.

– Is music the voice of the Soul or instrument for control? What’s the difference between the time of the 70’s – 80’s and now?

♦MOONSPELL: Big question. People were way more naive and less cynical in those years. That contributed to the great love and mysticism artists could create. Now that is dead. Fans are divided and confused if they are fans or clients to a band. Same here. Music is just music. It heals, it provokes, it entertains, everything is legit except when you start feeling better than your fellow because you listen to a different genre. That’s the death of it all.












– MOONSPELL is a Portuguese band, what’s the music scene like there at the moment? What was your starting favorite musical style and what came later as musical inspiration and preference?

♦MOONSPELL: 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 (imo) Bizarra Locomotiva, a metal industrial combo, that you have to catch live to understand. The 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 on my label Alma Mater Records. But aside from that, there is a giant community of bad bands, frustrated musicians, doomsayers who are truly responsible for many things gone wrong and for always trying and killing bands which enjoy some form of success. Those people hate themselves, know perfectly their limitations but they are still unfortunately very powerful in our scene.

As far as Moonspell goes in Portugal we are very loved, but also very hated but our skin and our music is thicker than all our fellow countrymen bands and we keep it true no matter what. I started with rock and metal but rapidly evolved into the more underground vibes of Bathory, Celtic Frost, loved King Diamond as well, Merciful Fate was a later discovery, and then came Type O Negative which changed my view of music as well as many other bands like Samael or Tiamat and also Ze Cardoso.

– How important is the graphics side of the band? How much thought goes into artwork etc…

♦MOONSPELL: The artwork is like the cover of the program you are about to watch. It has to be meaningful, challenging and makes you want to look back at least twice like an abyss. We have been lucky enough to work with many artists that make this concept true.

– What more should we expect from the band and when can we hear MOONSPELL live in the UK? Where can everyone get your music?

♦MOONSPELL: We still haven’t had the chance to go to the UK with this album or tour but we look forward and have plans to visit still in 2018, I hope it happens. we had a great time on the last tour, more people coming, so let’s keep it up. our music is out via napalm records and of course you can find us on social networking and learn more about the band.

– Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview! Your final words/wishes for the fans? Maybe with some part of the lyrics of your songs?

♦MOONSPELL: “Got to breathe in, got to breathe out up on your feet, you got to think twice the future is dark, but it’s all that we’ve got without you, there’s no tomorrow…” (“The Future Is Dark”)
Cheers for the interview. The future is Dark! \m/

European Dates:

19.05.18 PT – Damaia / Cineteatro D. João V
14.06.18 PT – Régua / V Concentração Motard do Douro
27.07.18 PT – Gerês / Rock’Fest
29.07.18 GR – Crete / Chania Rock
03.-05./08.18 DE – Gossnitz / Live’n’Loud
10.08.18 PT – Vagos / Metal Fest
03.-04.08.18 CZ – Ostrava / v Plamenech 
North American dates:
w/ Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity, Omnium Gatherum
07.09.18 US – New York, NY / Gramercy Theater 
08.09.18 CA – Montreal / Cafe Campus 
09.09.18 CA – Quebec City / Imperial de Quebec 
10.09.18 CA – Toronto / Opera House 
11.09.18 US – Ft Wayne, IN / Pierre’s 
12.09.18 US – Detroit, MI / Harpo’s 
13.09.18 US – Joliet, Il / The Forge 
14.09.18 US – Minneapolis, MN / The Cabooze 
15.09.18 CA – Winnipeg / Park Theatre 
17.09.18 CA – Edmonton / The Starlite Room 
18.09.18 CA – Calgary / Dickens 
19.09.18 CA – Vancouver / Rickshaw Theater 
20.09.18 US – Seattle, WA / El Corazon 
22.09.18 US – Berkeley, CA / The UC Theatre 
23.09.18 US – Anaheim, CA / City National Grove 
24.09.18 US – West Hollywood, CA / Whiskey a Go Go 
25.09.18 US – San Diego, CA / Brick By Brick 
26.09.18 US – Tempe, AZ / Marquee Theatre 
27.09.18 US – Las Vegas, NV / House of Blues 
28.09.18 US – Salt Lake City, UT / Liquid joe’s
29.09.18 US – Denver, CO / Herman’s Hideaway 
01.10.18 US – Dallas, TX / Trees 
02.10.18 US – San Antonio, TX / Rock Box 
03.10.18 US – Houston, TX / Scout Bar 
05.10.18 US – Tampa, FL / Orpheum 
06.10.18 US – West Palm Beach, FL / Kelsey Theater 
07.10.18 US – Atlanta, GA / The Masquerade 
09.10.18 US – Louisville, KY / Diamond Pub and Billiards 
10.10.18 US – Durham, NC / Motorco 
11.10.18 US – Baltimore, MD / Soundstage 
12.10.18 US – Philadelphia, PA / The Trocadero 
14.10.18 US – Clifton Park, NY / Upstate Concert Hall

More information at:

Interviewed by Toni Rock