Moonspell @ The Underworld Camden, London

Spread the metal:

Moonspell + Der Weg einer Freiheit + Volker

@ The Underworld Camden, London

13th December 2016

Review by Demitri Levantis

Photos by Oliver M.

I cannot recall if the moon rose high above the city of London on Tuesday December 13. It’s unknown if the beams of light from our closest cosmic neighbour were casting a spell upon the people as they went about their daily lives – but in one of the world’s most famous music venues in Camden Town, a wholly new spell from a wholly new moon was working its magic.

Moonspell – Portugal’s internationally renowned act in the world of Gothic Metal was on tour celebrating 20 years of their most famous albums: Wolfheart and Irreligious. Two albums welded finely into the codex of European Gothic Metal. Now it was time to honor such achievements.

Tuesday 13 December was the day of celebrating Irreligious – the album which changed Moonspell from a Melodic Black Metal act to the Gothic Metal flagship that has them up there with the likes of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.

First up on the bill, in support of the Gothic veterans, were the French band Volker. An interesting act who are best described as a group who fuse Horror Punk with elements of Hard Rock and some riffs that reminded me of classic Sludge Metal.

Their performance began with some catchy instrumentals but I think the whole crowd were simply blown away by the charisma and appearance of vocalist Jen Nyx. The way she looked and how much passion was oozing from her vocals as the band crashed through tune after tune made me watch in awe as I now knew I’d found another band I was going to be listening to regularly when I left the venue. This was certainly one band of angry kids who certainly meant business.

Guitars and drums were of a basic variety and it was pleasing to have something reminiscent of the Horror inspired Rock music and Punk anger that inspired the Gothic music Moonspell has given a metallic appreciation for. Volker’s act gave nothing more than the confirmation that the worlds of said Rock music hasn’t mellowed and is still there in all of its horrific sexiness – especially with such talented guitarists and vocalists at the helm.

An excellent job from the French there. Keep it up Volker.

Up next was a young blooded group from the German Black Metal scene. Der Weg Einer Freiheit (The Way of a Freedom), arrived to give a rendition of the music Moonspell began with before becoming the band they are now.

I am a huge fan of Black Metal and have been for the best part of seven years – the length of time this German act has been in existence. And I can safely say that for all its glory there are bands within the Black Metal world who are capable of making it sound stale or lacking of substance.

This group, sadly, did not perk my interest. They certainly had the ferocity of blast beats and tremolo picking guitars that marked them down as BM, but the tempo and atmosphere they created wasn’t quite fitted to how intense I watched the drummer work.

I had this band down as an atmospheric group, or at least one bordering on that genre. And Black Metal is generally deemed a music best played indoors, but even here in the bowels of the Underworld, Der Weg Einer Freiheit just didn’t seem to pack much of a punch.

The length of tracks also felt a bit out of place. That’s not to say they are a generally bad move, long songs can be excellent, but for this kind of concert I felt the band droned on and on a bit too much so they were, unfortunately, the most forgettable band of the night.

Sorry guys. I know there were people in the crowd who really liked you but not quite my taste of BM.

But the night was then taken to a whole new level of audible bliss, for now was the time for the Portuguese governors of all things Goth Metal to arrived and represent everything European about one of the most incredible Metal genres ever concocted.

And what a show it was to celebrate such a work of contemporary art. Irreligious, 20 years old and in my opinion, an album that has matured like a sumptuous spirit drink or fine wine. It just kept getting better with age.

And so too could be said for the band. Twenty-five years on the road and they still sounded as gloomy, dark and ferocious as the early days.

Moonspell took to the stage with applause from loyal fans who were as hyped for this as I was. And I have to say, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro is one of the happiest and cheerful metal vocalists I think I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been going to metal shows.

When a band looks as if they’re having a great time on stage, that usually means the music is nothing short of grand. And here it was just so. The amps were all giving off pristine riffs and the drums rang with the same level of production as the album. It really felt as if I had my headphones in and was bopping along to Irreligious as I’ve done on many occasions – so an album that sounds just as good live as on CD really has stood the test of time.

Moonspell’s presence was as tight as hell and I can definitely call them a band who have worked themselves to the bone in making sure Portugal has a sound the international metal community can remember and relate to when it comes to studying each scene and its exports. This is the band whom most Portuguese music fans can name even if they don’t listen to metal, so that is one achievement I applaud them for. And what a show to explain why.

Flags bearing the classic Moonspell pentagram were flying around the stage. That’s true loyalty in my opinion. And it wasn’t just Irreligious that was played in its entirety, several other classic tracks made an appearance which the fans were more than delighted to hear.

An amazing show all round and easily the finest Goth Metal show I’ve taken in this year. Obrigado Moonspell! Keep the awesome albums coming and I look forward to seeing you again in the fairly near future.