ALBUM REVIEW: Moonspell – From Down Below – Live 80 Meters Down


Portugal’s finest mercurial sons Moonspell‘s knack for reinvention while still holding true to their core elements is scarcely paralleled in all of dark music; a master class in constant growth. They have always deserved to be considered one of the most important world metal bands. “Metal” however is also too limiting a boundary for them, even though it is in the blood which beats through their lycanthropic hearts.

From Fernando Ribeiro‘s peerless croon to his penchant for literature or crafting poetry, there was always something more to them that made their ritual and bacchanal abandon all the more intoxicating. Interesting now that one of their most captivating moments in a career full of them finds the band performing far from where moonlight even shines!


Only Myrkur’s truly stunning and hard to top ‘Mausoleum’ release or Jørgen Munkeby‘s Shining‘s video atop Trolltunga come to mind as comparable feats of a band using their surroundings to such great atmospheric affect. Well, that and Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii. Floyd also seem to have really affected Moonspell’s signature bite recently, the songs from Hermitage more expansive and prog adjacent than ever. It is staggering to think of how much craft has been displayed to refine and tweak the group’s sound in just the last few releases!


Between the grim and scowling ‘Extinct’ to the awe inspiring historical orchestral-augmented majesty of ‘1755’ to the restless introspection of ‘Hermitage’, there is so much to explore. The band are also navigating the recent post-Mike Gaspar (who has his own rad new band Seventh Storm) era well, despite initial concerns.


From Down Below (Napalm Records) is a subterranean delight, recorded live at Grutas de Mira D’Aire – one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders. The set is basically all of Hermitage, so fans hoping for classics like ‘Moon In Mercury’, ‘Alma Mater’ or ‘Opium’ are just gonna have to get with the times. That said, the new material is incredible and you can tell the audience are extremely psyched to be part of this special moment despite (or especially more because of) Covid shell shock. It really feels like coming alive, all due respect to Peter Frampton.


‘Common Prayers’ is a standout, churning from tribal drumming to catchy flourish to chugged, mid-tempo purpose. Ribeiro shines the most on ‘The Hermit Saints’, a song that showcases his mournful melodies and bellowed, beseeching cries marvelously. The ease of Ricardo Amorim‘s intricately woven leads dancing through keys and thundering bass is something to behold. The results of this concert feel, dare I say, religious. It is ironic for anyone who knows the title of their most classic cult album.

The searching lyrics of ‘Apophthegmata’ describing a trek through a vast desert (I imagine stalactites serving as inverted dunes) underscore the feeling of a momentous and ongoing journey through the long, dark night of the soul. This concert is evidence that it really doesn’t have to be taken alone after all.

Buy the album here:


8 / 10