Amorim, Ricardo S.- Wolves Who Were Men-The History Of Moonspell (Book Review)

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Author: Ricardo S. Amorim
Title: Wolves Who Were Men
Publisher: Crypt Publications/ Cult Never Dies
Released: 2019
Reviewed: Jan, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

It was another great year for Metal literature, publishing and reading.   I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing 45 books about Hard Rock and Heavy Metal in 2019. Despite the large number of books about Metal being published every year, still very few books are about the more extreme genres.

There are a number of reasons for this situation. ‘Extreme’ Metal, using a very broad definition of say Black and Death Metal is still one of the younger sub-genres.  Even the earliest extreme bands (ie. the longest running veterans) are still quite young. Many of these bands are just hitting their own 20thor 25thanniversary milestones, and that is often the time when a band might have a book written about them, or by them. In addition, fewer bands overall in the ‘extreme’ genres by nature and they are often too young to ‘deserve’ or warrant a book.  One man and one publishing house aims to change this situation by focusing on the heaviest genres and that is Dayal Patterson and Crypt Publications/Cult Never Dies.

Late in 2019, Crypt/CND published the biography of Moonspell called WOLVES WHO WERE MEN-THE HISTORY OF MOONSPELL.  This nice looking oversized paperback comes in a deluxe edition as well, which looks pretty sweet. Check it out on-line.   I reviewed the standard edition, which is soft cover, is about 450 pages long and is loaded with ‘bonus features’ that caught my eye for a specific reason.    Back in 2012, Moonspell vocalist Fernando Ribeiro wrote a partial autobiography called ‘XX’ for the 20thanniversary of the band.  In 2018, on this site I reviewed that book. In that review I said,

“In fact, if anything that may be the only shortcoming of the book, the lack of concrete technical detail.  One day a super-fan will write the ultimate authorized biography of Moonspell and cover all the stuff that is not here; like lists of tour dates, line-up changes, what gear they play, a comprehensive discography, and all that awesome trivia that is faithfully collected by the loyal members of the Moonspell wolf-pack.”

Well, at risk of sounding egotistical, I predicted that one.  Nailed it!  That super-fan I predicted who would one day write the ultimate Moonspell book is here and his name is Ricardo S. Amorim and his book is WOLVES WHO WERE MEN.  He has added all the stuff I had hoped would be in Ribeiro’s book.    We get a family tree, photos of all the albums, way more technical information about the band, and lots of stuff in the appendix; letters, notes, ancient manuscripts, lyric sheets, sketches, ‘zine articles and interviews that really dig into the history of the band.  I didn’t recognize the profound impact that Quorthon’s (Bathory) visit to Portugal had on the lives of the young members of Moonspell!   Dani Filth is kind enough to write the foreword and Fernando Ribeiro himself get the final say and pens the afterword.

For the record, the author, Ricardo ‘S’ Amorim is not the same Ricardo Amorim who has played guitar and keyboards in Moonspell since 1995. It is just a weird coincidence!

The only logical way to write a biography is start at the beginning and so it goes, to the earliest days of the band, a bunch of Metal fans in Portugal, not exactly rich, not exactly poor but getting by and like so many before, pick up a guitar, buy a case of beer and start a band. WOLVES WHO WERE MEN follow the band from essentially Day one and chapter-by-chapter, album-by-album, we get deep and meaningful insights into the band, the various members.  The author was allowed full and intimate access to the band, becoming ‘entrenched’, and even hanging out with the band, and being allowed into the inner sanctums of the bands home and rehearsal space.  One might think that a super-fan and friend of the band might not have the journalistic distance or impartiality to write an accurate story, but I feel that Amorim did a superb job.  Yes, certainly it is positive account of the band, but in retrospect the band has had largely a positive and successful career.  Yeah, sure there were occasional fights, the usual drinking and drug problems, arguing with record labels, a lawsuit or two but overall the band is truly a wolfpack and have had had very few membership changes over the past, almost 30 years.  The story is balanced, fair and detailed. The author talked to many people involved with the band in one form or another; ex-members, producers, wives and more.

There is really not much negative I could say about this book. Perhaps there could have been a full discography with releases dates, singles, catalogue numbers etc that seems like a no-brainer to me, but I guess that is what the internet is for.   A tour history would have been neat and there could have more info about all those cool videos the band has shot over the years too!  The book sort of ran out of steam by the time he was discussing the newest album 1755, the latest details seemed a bit thin but overall AMORIM has provided a deep, insightful, rich and resonant history of this unique and intriguing band.

I’ve always associated Moonspell and Rotting Christ in my mind.  Why?  It could be that they were both evolutionary, pioneering bands in the their respective nations. Both came from outside the conventional Northern European breeding ground of extreme metal, both were signed to Century Media, both are respected and musically innovative.  Overall, they have had someone similar career arcs so I often think of them as a pair of titans.  It perhaps comes as no surprise that Crypt / CDN also published the excellent Rotting Christ biography late in 2018. Feel free to check out my thoughts about of NON SERVIAM:THE ROTTING CHRIST STORY, that I reviewed earlier this year.   Buy them both and draw your own comparisons!