Long running Goth metal masters MOONSPELL have an ambitious new release which is the double album Alpha Noir/Omega White out on Napalm Records. Drummer Miguel (Mike) Gaspar caught Metal Army up to speed on why it took so long to make the new record, how the band approaches recording, their love of Peter Steele (RIP) and TYPE O NEGATIVE, other influences- metal or not and the state of the metal scene in the bands’ native home of Portugal.
MAA: Please tell us about the writing and recording of Alpha Noir/Omega White?
MG: Many thanks for the interview let’s do it brother ! This album was very different from all albums in the past due to the time, four years apart from the Night Eternal. We never took so long to put out an album. The success of the previous album also kept us on the road quite a bit. So we did not want to rush things and just let things flow naturally. In the begging process we had no idea we would release a double album. In reality this was more of a concept that would enrich our composing skills dividing them in half. We would write heavy songs on some days an others would go more into the Gothic style more melodic elements. Benny Ritcher came from Germany three times during the four years to help us out with all arrangements. Never had worked with him and found a new understanding. He really felt like a member of the band with a lot of enthusiasm to work until late hours just to get the songs right. It was strange to work with someone younger than us never happened before. He was like a little brother full of talent and skills that impressed us and contributed a lot to this magnum album.
MAA: What is the concept behind each part of Alpha Noir/Omega White?
MG: Alpha is more like a battle until the end in an arena full of blood, passion and determination. In the arena there is no time to play around our you’ll be killed. You fight for your honor and family paying respect to all those that have fallen before you. This was inspirational for a heavy dark album we wanted no compromises, just the best metal that we could accomplish. With Omega it’s a different story it is the time for the warrior to recover his mind and body. To bathe cleaning the wounds and the soul. To eat and drink celebrating the victories. A time to think and remember one’s family and loved ones, to salute all good things and pleasures so that one day we shall fight again.
MAA: Was the wealth of material the reason of the four year break between albums?
MG: Many reasons took us to have this decision. For one the Night Eternal tours were crazy we travelled all over the word making new fans everywhere and also welcoming back the old. We just had to do all the shows it is for us the main reason bands should exist! You have to do the best shows possible, it is the ultimate experience like no other. There was also the question of which label we would end up on but that became something that we did not want to worry about and just did the albums freely until the end before signing to anyone. We were confident and just wanted to release our best work to date. The acoustic project we did in Portugal called SOMBRA also took a bit of our time. We were 13 people on stage with Cellos, female vocalists and percussionists. It ended up even giving us a push for the Omega White album. One other reason that come to mind is just the fact that we make twenty years of MOONSPELL this year and it would be our ninth full length album. There was no reason to rush things the music could not be compromised so we said the hell with it just take our time.
MAA: It’s been said that the Omega White album was in part inspired by TYPE O NEGATIVE. What about them is particularly inspiring for the band?
MG: Everything we were huge fans from the begging of our career. They were the few bands that incorporated different styles in their music. Going from Hardcore, to Gothic sounds. The deep vocals would make your knees tremble and the lyrics were so intense and dark. They were everything from the street attitude with violence to romantic and sensual atmospheres to emotions that would comfort you on those terrible days that you, yourself wanted to slash your wrists. The identification with this band was brutal in the early years and to our luck did one of their biggest tours in Europe in `96. We became good friends and especially Pete was always on our side, helping us out in everything we needed. He left a deep mark in us. The tribute to him and TYPE O will always feel weak compared to the reality of what a divine band they where and the many that followed them. They will never be forgotten in hearts and in our music. Salute Pete, he was a true gentleman, we miss him a lot and having a song dedicated to him and the past just helps us cope with this tragedy. Hope he´s smiling somewhere and we will jam one day!
MAA: The band worked once again with Tue Madson producing and mixing. What does he bring to the process that appeals to the band more than another producer or producing yourselves?
MG: The pure calmness of his persona is so important to band that is from south Europe and can get a bit edgy and confusing at time. We have no real tradition of metal in Portugal so we had to learn for our selves and many times the hard way. Tue understands us very well and always gives 200% to make sure we are comfortable and satisfied with the results. He has no big ego and really just wants to get the bands idea and sound to the fans. He himself is a huge Heavy Metal fan and played guitar in his own projects. Also, a little bit older making him more like a big brother. Family is the key word when we feel that kind of environment I think we do our best stuff at least at this time in life. We have enough chaos and excitement all year round on the road. Can´t wait to see what we do next together. He just is a wizard with the sound and mixes all our elements without it getting confusing, he can make everything just sound spot on!
MAA: Who are some of the heavier bands inspiring you these days?
MG: For me personally I’m just a huge fan of the 80s. As a kid VAN HALEN and MOTLEY CRUE were bands I loved but as a teenager I got into bands like MORBID ANGEL, BATHORY, KING DIAMOND, SLAYER, METALLICA, DARKTHRONE, EMPEROR, ROOT, CANDLEMASS, but also Gothic stuff like SISTERS OF MERCY, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and of course, TYPE O NEGATIVE. So really from Hard Rock to Death and black metal to avant-garde, the name before Goth. I just absorbed so many dark styles of music it just showed with our era in the 1990s were bands like us mixed the styles. TIAMAT, SAMAEL, MOONSPELL, AMORPHIS, PARADISE LOST, LACUNA COIL, THE GATHERING we were all fans and at the same time influencing each other. The use of keyboards and female vocals or just poetic song writing was all a bit new for us and that what excited us the most. It was new and part of our generation. DEAD CAN DANCE was also a band that had so much world music involved it just touched us in a special way, incorporating something so distant in a new form of metal. So I still listen to all this these days, it´s our core inspiration and I think always will be! I have a hard time listening to new stuff, I think this is normal. I will always give a listen to new material from friends or even fans, but it never really sticks like the bands you heard when you were young!
MAA: At twenty years-old, is their a moment in time that stands out to you as the biggest highlight for the band so far?
MG: I would have to say the release of Irreligious in 96. It was our first taste of mainstream success . That album opened many doors in our career and to think that only three years before we released our first demo called Anno Satanae! It was all to quick to even understand and still takes us a bit to recall the reason for so much attention from a band that played very underground black metal from the south of europe. The odds of us being on tour with major bands our album in the German charts, winning new comer of the year in Finland the massive record sails, promotion fans going crazy at shows for us was just unbelievable! It really feels like your living a dream. It all took a lot of work, sweat, pain tears and blood to get there but when we were on the Dynamo main stage back in 97 , before there were Wacken’s, Hellfest etc. playing for 80.000 people, we new that we came a long way and it was all worth it! We even did shows with KISS during there reunion tour with the make up in the 90′s. Their production was insane and we got along really well, they gave us all the conditions to do a good show! But KISS fans are tough so are SLAYER’s’ to that matter, but for some reason we always win them over!
MG: Many thanks, hope to see you soon on the road! Keep it Metal!
(Thanks to Mike Gaspar, MOONSPELL and Napalm Records)
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes