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When talking about Portugal, we naturally think of Moonspell right away, an established band in the metal scène since the nineties. Their rather extreme metal draws influences from gothic, death and black metal, while there is always a dark atmosphere going on. Recently ’Extinct’ came out, no less than the eleventh studio album of this top band. A new conversation was our next wish and who else than vocalist Fernando Ribeiro would be perfectly fitting for that mission? We took him out of the tour cadenza for a moment to talk about the current features in Moonspell’s life and career.

By: Vera | Archive under black metal

Hello Fernando, hope you are doing well on your current EU tour with Septicflesh and a new record called ‘Extinct’. Once again we are two and a half years further since our latest interview. So let us have a fine update of things…
Alright, let's do it!

In May 2012 ‘Alpha Noir/Omega White’ came out. It was followed by a lot of touring. What happened in the Moonspell camp since then? Can you resume the highlights and/or special events?
Like you said the main thing was touring for that album. We had memorable shows and travels, but the one that was most out of the ordinary was our trip to Siberia and our first show in China, Beijing. For the rest of the time we were thinking about a new album.

When did you actually start thinking about new songs and can you tell something more about the writing process this time? Was there a initial decision made qua approach, style, sound or anything else?
Nine months ago. We were still considering more tours yet this was this kind of album that one gets in the studio, with a heavy heart, finally laying the weight on what we do best. That is music, new albums, creativity in general. There was no agenda, conscious decisions or pick up a direction. All was natural and spontaneous.

At first I had the impression that ‘Extinct’ is a more gothic styled (yet dark and deep draught) album, less aggressive than some of its predecessors. Do you agree with that?
Yes. It's not so much an in your face album, but more a musical experience. We don't care about heavy or soft, people might have noticed that already. We are about delivering good, if possible great music.

Another feature is its great accessibility, more than ever you succeeded in writing catchy choruses so that the songs haunt you pretty soon. Well, it is an art itself to amaze without intricacies. What are your thoughts about that matter?
The idea behind was to have songs that capture an atmosphere. We wanted something crystal clear yet powerful and meaningful, songs that could endure the test of time, something ambitious yes but something we could also lie up as musicians and songwriters. We think we have given a good step towards evolving on that chapter and I believe these songs are an example of what we can do, twenty years after ‘Wolfheart’.

Why the title ‘Extinct’ and can you go deeper into the lyrical contents this time?
I first looked and found the word extinct to color some events, impressions, feelings that I have been through last few years. A lot of things, places, feelings, love, talent, animals, species… have gone from my life, from earth, from existence. That is a deep emotional experience. I have talked with a lot of professors, authors, and I learnt with them then just talking poetically about extinction, there is also a lot worth fighting for. A dying breed are the ones who gave up. This album is as much about things going to extinct as it is about survival.

I think it is important to mention the video now you just created for the title track. This should be something special with focus on the awareness of humans for other species on earth. Am I right? Please explain a bit…
Yes but not only. Extinction happens also from prejudice, from a great difficulty in accepting the difference and the imperfection. And that goes for when people hit and run a wolf; or when they think a handicap has no worth. The video focuses on that aspect; that we are still just way beyond accepting new species, respect the old ones and to treat people and animals as shit. We are for sure not driving into harmony and acceptance and including the so called outcasts in our reality. We live in fear, thus we destroy difference.

Are we a dying breed itself?
No doubts about that.

’The Future Is Dark’ is addressed to your son. One year ago you became father. How did it change your life, your view on the world and the future and your spiritual awareness?
Three years ago actually. My life changed completely and so have I. Fausto, my son, made me a better person, a more complete man, a father and an adult. Of course this didn't come without pain. I had to face my own egoism that I was not aware of. Also so much happens in the life of a first time parent. The world do not stop for you to enjoy the experience… Anyway the future… is a song to him, teaching him about the dark but also to give him the weapons to fight against it.

’La Baphomette’ is a different track in French theatrical avant-garde style. Can you tell a bit more about this song and affinity with that genre?
You got it. It's really a burlesque song even. It's a about an exotic dancer, really. Her stage is the world, one of a kind, and when she dances it is cosmic chaos. I am a big fan of stuff like Piaf, Lennya, Tom Waits and we thought this would wrap up the album beautifully.

band image

When thinking about Moonspell we always see Tue Madsen coming in sight in the recording process. However, not this time. So please tell us a bit more about the recording time and the decision to work with (also famous) Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios?
We wanted Jens to do something crystal clear, but powerful production wise. Something that could be fragile yet strong at the same time, to capture that contrast was only possible also to the great work Jens did for this record, not only at a pro level but also at an absolute up close and personal level, which influenced the mood of the record, making it more private, epic but with an amazing human factor about it. When I listen to this record I listen to something plainly musical, not with the brain, but with the heart. We had nothing against Tue or the past producers but we did catch up with Jens at a time where he wanted to do something different and so we did! As a joke we used to say that this album is not for the fans of bands he produced before hahaha.

There will come a mediabook and this should be a very special one. Please explain us what we can enjoy when purchasing this?
Yes. There are bonus traces plus a full length documentary where you can find much more about the band, our day to day in the studio, but also a narrative about extinction, interviews with authors, professors, etc. If you got the time it is the perfect complement of the album.

Can you give us some thoughts about the intriguing artwork, once again made by Seth?
Seth is an incredible artist and one who is not afraid of mixing beauty with horror in his works. When I first came in contact with his Art (I knew his great band before) I was blown away by it, by the Witkin and (Francis) Bacon reference but also by his own merit. He always has carte blanche to do whatever he feels like, after listening to the music, read the lyrics and a lot of cyber talks about his work in progress. I really think he captures the horror behind the dreamy soundtrack of ‘Extinct’ The mutilation that extinction represents. A lot of people were disgusted about the cover but the message is for me clear. That was the mood, to make people react and to lead them into other ways of perceiving the album. It would be impossible to achieve that if we put up a band photo or a logo on the cover. Not everyone can like yellow and in my opinion this is an absolute great cover that provokes a reaction.

You are now on a EU tour with Septicflesh, with Seth in their ranks by the way. What is going on and what can we expect of the shows this time?
We are in Barcelona and had already some incredible shows in Holland and Belgium where we started the tour. Night after night we are getting better performing our songs and night after night there is more people, more enchantment. The shows are incredibly emotional and visual and I believe it's the best Moonspell you have seen in years.

Are there guests on the album? (question inspired by slightly different chants in ‘Malignia’)
‘Malignia’ are ALL my vocals. Another one singing on the album is Ricardo, our guitar player. We had Mahafsoun as a guest for ‘Medusalem’, doing the speech. And also Mumim Sesler string orchestra and Yossi Sassi ex Orphaned Land played the electro bouzouki.

In 2012 you released the autobiography ’20 Anos/Years’. Can you tell something more about that book?
It's a photo biography. Twenty photos, twenty texts, twenty testimonies of that much years and everything that happened. It tells the story of Moonspell through images and pics and it is an honest account of what we were, are and will be as a band.

In 2015 ‘Wolfheart’ came out twenty years ago. Are there any special plans to celebrate this?
Indeed! We really have no time to celebrate it properly, yet we are always throwing some songs from it on our setlist, to celebrate it. We would love to make an Euro tour, in different capitols around the world but it is going be hard. Maybe next year we catch up, ‘Irreligious’ will be twenty years as well so maybe a full vintage tour will be on order.

What are the further plans for touring after the European trek?
More tours!!! hahahah!. We are going to Mexico + Canada + USA in April, May and then Summer festivals and then Rock in Rio Brazil and a second Euro tour, more to the East, Scandinavia etc.

If there is anything you want to share with us to occlude this interview, feel free to do so…
Thanks so much for your support, thanks to the Dutch fans for the great nights on tour and for putting us on the charts again! Until we see each other again, be safe and don’t let yourself get extinct!

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