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Moonspell - Anno Satanae ( Demo) CD (album) cover

ANNO SATANAE ( DEMO)

Moonspell

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

2.33 | 2 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Nhorf
3 stars Anno Satanae shows Moonspell at its very rawest and it probably is one of the most aggressive things this portuguese act ever put out. Hidden in our very un-metal country, Moonspell released this little demo back in 1993, four years after their official formation and oh my God, does this kicks the arse of every record this act has been putting out since [i]Irreligious[/i]. This is a mixture of gothic metal with some black metal nuances, the whole atmosphere of the album being quite depressing and evil. The artwork fits well with the music, reflecting it perfectly well: listening to this little demo is like taking a little trip to some dark forest, where strange demons live.

Oh well, there are flaws, of course. This demo is far from being perfect (look at the rating) thanks to the very poor sound quality and overall production. At times, the vocals are very hard to discern, the guitars overpowering everything. Surprisingly, the drums are pretty well mixed, being very audible, from the cymbals to the powerful double bass. As for the bass guitar, it is unfortunately buried deep in the mix, and you won't hear it for most of the time, that's for sure.

And this weak sound quality, brings me to a problem: why should you get this piece, if you can download/buy Under Satanae, one of their latest offerings, which contains all the tracks featured on this little demo re-recorded and sounding one million times better, production-wise? Well, sometimes, the energy and sheer ambition of a band is more important than the sound quality, and while on the re-recordings you can hear an accomplished metal act trying to play their old, lost classics, what you can hear here is a very primitive Moonspell, a Moonspell desperately trying to retain one's attention with its dark sound.

A little introduction, filled with some arabian chanting, leads us into "Goat on Fire", the stronger song of the bunch and probably one of the highlights of Moonspell's first era (the one that begins with the Mortuary split and ends with the release of their proper debut album: during this era, the band played a very particular gothic/black/folk metal style, as opposed to the gothic path they would later pursue). Dominated by a powerful, yet not that memorable, riff, this track also contains a fine catchy chorus, which isn't a common thing of this band: indeed, they aren't well known for their memorable refrains and choruses, that's for sure. Halfway into the song, surprise surprise, a fantastic acoustic guitar solo is unleashed, while the rhythm guitar is destroying everything in its path. It kind of reminds me of the outro of Crystal Mountain (with the difference that this song was released later, during 1995), it's just awesome. In fact, at this point of their career, this portuguese act used the acoustic guitar lots of time, which added a nice arabic atmosphere to their early works. It's a shame they had to chage their sound drastically, after their second record.

"Ancient Winter Goddess" folows, and possibly is the least memorable song of the bunch. It begins with a fast drum intro, later accompanied later by Ribeiro's vocals and by the guitar. After the first section, the song gets much faster, with a new midpaced riff and a nice electric guitar solo. Despite being a strong tune, "Ancient Winter Goddess" lacks an appropriate vocal performance by Fernando Ribeiro. While on the first tune, his vocals were still weak and sub-par, his weaknesses are absolutely shown on this track: this tune is a bit more vocal-oriented, and he just can't sing or growl appropriately. Fortunately, he later improved. During the middle section, there's another nice, albeit short, acoustic part, followed by a serie of neo-classical influenced (!) solos, with Ricardo Amorim shredding like a madman. Ah, I've got to say again that it's a shame they changed their sound over the years, I just wish they kept making music like this.

"Wolves from the Fog" begins with a very atmospheric, almost Sabbath influenced riff, played very slowly. We hear a bell and the drums kick in, together with the whispers of Fernando Ribeiro. Later the track gets faster, with a decent main riff. The middle section is filled with another riff which is a variation of the first one, and some atmospheric keyboard sounds. By far, albeit still being fairly complex, this is the simplest song of the bunch, which shows that, at this point of their career, Moonspell carried a lot of progressive elements (well, that's why they are listed on prog-archives, I guess!). A little outro closes the album.

A stunning journey this demo is. Fans of raw black metal, rejoice and listen to this little piece, you'll enjoy it, that's for sure. A gem of the portuguese old underground scene. Historically, this demo also was quite important for the portuguese metal scene to grow... Anyways, a recommended demo for those who like the before-mentioned music styles.

Note: the rating isn't higher because the sound quality really harms the whole listening experience and, at times, it's hard to hear what the musicians are playing. With a better production, this demo could have been Moonspell's early magnum opus.

Best Moments of the CD: -the acoustic solo on "Goat on Fire". -the middle section of "Ancient Winter Goddess", with the short acoustic part and the solos. -the first doomy riff of "Wolves from the Fog".

Nhorf | 3/5 |

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