Tragic Idol – Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell

moonspell extinct


We live a very intense life. Not just with the band, but keeping together families and things like that.” The deep, dulcet tones of Fernando Ribeiro are unmistakable, coated in this thick Portuguese accent, it is little wonder the forty year-old front man of Moonspell still attracts much attention from swooning nubiles. These days the Goth Metal lothario has a young son to raise which is perhaps a factor on the more mature direction Moonspell have adopted on new opus Extinct (Napalm Records). “We like to delve into the unknown. It is important to be creative when we feel inspired to do so. We had six months of touring left for Alpha Noir and Omega White, but we needed to write when we felt the need to express ourselves, to feed that hunger!”

One thing that immediately noticeable about Extinct is the concept is rooted in reality both on a global and personal scale. As Ribeiro explained, the concept came together relatively quickly. “We did not want to split our direction as we did on the preceding albums. The concept came out very early. I was thinking of extinction on a global scale which affects animals but also how human beings place a higher value on their own existence and will often sacrifice other species and the planet to serve our own selfish needs. Sonically, we have been influenced more by electronic music and used more clean vocals. It is a very desolate album.”

Extinct is indeed a dark affair, not least for the shocking image of a mutilated amputee which adorns the cover which is the work of Septicflesh bassist and frontman Spiros Antoniou a.k.a. Seth Siro Anton. “He worked on ‘Night Eternal’ for us.” Ribeiro mused on this comrade’s work. “We feel an affinity with Septic Flesh and look forward to touring with them this year. His work recalls that of Francis Bacon or Joel- Peter Witkin to me. ‘Extinct’ is an album about imperfections. That figure on the cover looks raped and mutilated but it is about the fear of what could happen and the damage that has been done. Amputee’s feel their limbs long after they have had them removed so it seemed to fit with the concept we had.”

moonspell pic

In addition to its gruesome cover art, Extinct also has some of the most personal lyrics Fernando has ever penned. “Gothic metal has always been very fictional but we have gone through many changes in our lives. ‘The Future Is Dark’ is one song which exemplifies this. Jens and Pedro opened the studio up specially one night for me to do the vocals. It had been a difficult night at home for me and I wanted to get the lyrics on the track straight away.”

The track in question see’s Ribeiro addressing his son with the brooding chorus refrain ‘Without you there is no tomorrow’ it’s a touching moment. “Jens told me it was one of the best personal songs he ever recorded. He is a workaholic who never gave anyone a day off but he was a real team player and supportive of everything we did.”

Adding further depth to the seductive melodies on ‘Breathe (Until We Are No More)’ and ‘Medusalem’ is the use of a Turkish orchestra. “It was a big challenge to get them involved because they do not speak English nor I Turkish so we had to have a mediator in between! Portuguese music has always been influenced by the Arabic scales so we wanted to incorporate that. We didn’t go for these big Wagnerian arrangements most Metal bands use we wanted something more seductive.”

Another highlight is album closer ‘La Baphomette’, a track which sounds positively vaudevillian with its swing feel and elegant piano. “Our bass player Aires wrote this piece with the brass section but Pedro helped with the arrangement. When I listened to the melody I thought of Burlesque and Tom Waits – I love French poets like (Charles) Baudelaire. I was at the French quarter in New Orleans on our last tour and I wrote the lyrics about a burlesque dancer who evokes cosmic chaos. It is a very romantic song and a great way to end the album.”



Septicflesh – Titan


Being a fan of early Septicflesh, I’m keen on the Tim Bricheno-style emotive leads – less evident from their middle period onwards – and I fell away from the Greek ensemble after the bizarre, Big Top like noodlings of A Fallen Temple (Holy) which verged on lunacy and alienated many. Though new full-length Titan (Season of Mist) displays much pomp and grandeur, the seamless blend of death metal and orchestral effects is a throwback to their salad days.

Opener ‘War in Heaven’ begins with the duelling of sharp, buzzing riffs and symphonic keys, and when both blastbeats and Seth Siro Anton‘s alarming growl kick in, it portrays the impending cataclysmic battle well. Its centre-point sees chopping rhythms augmented by complex drum patterns, and this explodes and ebbs in fiery fashion to the Gregorian coda. It is a powerful, dramatic beginning that sets the album’s tone. Elsewhere, the death brutality of ‘Burn’ and ‘Ground Zero’ are countermanded by softly intoned choruses, symphonic swells and a brief appearance from those mournful leads. The orchestra is here in force as horns, strings and bass drums decorate the mildly odd ‘Order of Dracul’ and ‘Confessions of a Serial Killer’, the former seeing a harpsichord also absorb the angry pace.

The drama and intense passion reaches a zenith in ‘Prometheus’ with the growling passages quieted by choral breaks reminiscent of ‘Carmina Burana’, whilst the centre break of flute and harp adds the power of emotion. This continues into the heavy-as-hell title track, with galloping strings and more Orff-style choruses augmenting the blistering power and a most addictive chant-a-long refrain. The euphoric closer ‘The First Immortal’ skirts with that kitsch “metal musical” trapdoor but this time retains its strength and brutality amongst the moments of pomp and beauty to create a meaningful and stirring end piece.

There can be few more divisive bands around than Septicflesh at present, but whichever side of the fence you’re on, you can’t deny they’re bloody entertaining. Those of us with a fondness for them can only breathe a sigh of relief at another show of form.

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