Early days (1992–1994)
Although they had been playing since 1989 under the name of "Morbid God", the band became Moonspell in 1992, the same year they released the promo track "Serpent Angel".
After the release of mini-album Under the Moonspell, Moonspell signed with Century Media for six CDs. Wolfheart was recorded in Germany with producer Waldemar Sorychta and was released in 1995 and was followed by a European tour. Although the album had little or no recognition at the beginning. During the tour, guitarist Mantus quit the band and was replaced by Ricardo Amorim.
For 1996's Irreligious, the band again recorded with producer Waldemar Sorychta. While the previous album was considered black metal, this one fell into the genre of gothic metal. The song "Opium" became the first Moonspell single. It quoted one of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa's heteronyms, Álvaro de Campos, on his poem "Opiário", and its music video featured the character of the poet writing in a bar with the band playing. Along with the release of the album in a convent, the Convento do Beato, there were factors that helped the band sell 10,000 copies of the album in their homeland.
After conflicts with the band involving lawsuits, bass player Ares left the band and was replaced by Sérgio Crestana.
Sin/Pecado ("Without/Sin" and Pecado means "sin" in Portuguese) was released in 1998. It had a bigger experimental nature than its predecessors. The song "
2econd Skin" was released as a single. At the time they released the one and only Dæmonarch album, Hermeticum. Dæmonarch was a side project composed by all Moonspell members except drummer Mike Gaspar. The album was seen as a return to their black metal roots and its lyrics were all written by singer Fernando Ribeiro between the age of 14 and 16.
Sin/Pecado was followed in 1999 by The Butterfly Effect, recorded in London and produced by Andy Reilly. This album is considered to be very experimental in nature as well. Featuring "down-tuned guitar riffs, eerie synthesizer passages", the album was mainly composed by guitarist/keyboard player Pedro Paixão and was not very well received by metal critics.
Darkness and Hope and The Antidote (2001–2005)
Fernando Ribeiro during a live show in Spain in 2006
Darkness and Hope was released in 2001 and was produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa, producer of Sentenced and HIM. The album reached 79th on German charts and special editions included covers of Madredeus, Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" and Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". "Nocturna" was released as a single and music video.
In 2003, the band released The Antidote, with Niclas Etelävuori from Amorphis playing as a session musician on the bass guitar. The album was released with a book with the same title written by Portuguese writer José Luís Peixoto. Both the CD and book share the same concept and story and each song in the CD is sister to a chapter in the book that enhances the story in the lyrics. "Everything Invaded" was released as a single and music video. The band toured extensively around the world, playing at Rock in Rio Lisbon in 2004, a concert that brought them to more mainstream attention in Portugal. From this album on, the tours feature Aires Pereira on the bass.
During 2003 the band recorded a cover of the jazz standard "I'll See You in My Dreams" for the soundtrack of the Portuguese short zombie horror film of the same name. There is an official music video which was filmed in one day during the production of the short and under a €2,000 budget. The song was also issued as a single in 2004, featuring the full and edited versions.
Memorial, Under Satanæ and Night Eternal (2006–2009)
Memorial was released in 2006. Recorded with the producer of their first three albums Waldemar Sorychta, who also recorded the bass guitar parts, it was the first to be released under their new label SPV Steamhammer. The album topped the Portuguese album chart on its first week and also broke into the German Top 100 at number 68. Memorial achieved gold status in Portugal after selling 10,000 copies, making Moonspell the first Portuguese doom metal band to achieve that.
Although the album is heavier than the previous, it was very well received and its release was featured in various Portuguese news broadcasts. A new release of the album was released in December 2006 and featured a DVD with live performances and the music videos made for the album. Music videos for "Finisterra" and "Luna" were released.
The band then worked on releasing a DVD originally entitled Lunar Still/13 Years of Doom, but had some issues of a legal nature and was forced to delay the release, originally expected in September 2005. It was pushed later to 9 December 2008 with a new title: Lusitanian Metal.
On November 2, 2006, Moonspell won an MTV Europe Music Award in the category of Best Portuguese Act.
The Great Silver Eye, a best-of album, was released on June 26, 2007.
In 2007, Moonspell released Under Satanæ, a re-recording of early songs.
Night Eternal was released on May 16, 2008. The lead single off the album, Scorpion Flower, features Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering, now Agua De Annique).
Moonspell performed the "Blackest of the Black" tour with Danzig, Winds of Plague, Dimmu Borgir and Skeletonwitch.
Moonspell toured Europe with Cradle of Filth, Gorgoroth, Septicflesh and Asrai ("The Darkest Tour: Filthfest") in December 2008, and took part in a European tour with Cradle of Filth and Turisas, dubbed the "Darkest Tour:Filthfest 2", in April and May 2009.
In July 2010 it was reported that the Portuguese Postal Service would release "a collection of stamps that represent the most significant rock moments and records from Portugal," which included Moonspell's first album, Wolfheart.
Alpha Noir and Omega White, Extinct, and 1755 (2010 onwards)
In July 2010, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro revealed the band was working on a new album, which he described as "the most exciting, sexiest, darkest, heaviest and catchiest stuff we've written in ages!". In December 2011 Moonspell signed with Napalm Records, and Ribeiro released the following statement:
"Signing with Napalm is a firm step into cutting all bullshit and work with people who truly believe in us and respect our longevity, while helping us to embrace those who have been arriving in the last years to start with us yet another kingdom of darkness under the moon. Our new album is a statement. Our blood is the ink. Your skin, the scrolls upon we will write. Napalm Records, our messenger. Be ready."
In January 2012, Moonspell revealed the title of the new album to be Alpha Noir, with a release date of April 27, 2012 and a special edition set to include the album's "musical twin", Omega White. The band's press release cited Bathory, King Diamond, Onslaught, early Metallica, Testament, and Artillery as influences for Alpha Noir, which was described as "an incendiary album". Omega White was instead described as an album of "pure atmosphere and shadow", an homage to Type O Negative and The Sisters of Mercy and similar to Moonspell's second album Irreligious. Alpha Noir and Omega White were both produced and mixed by Tue Madsen, who had previously worked on the band's Under Satanæ and Night Eternal records.
In 2015 Moonspell released a new cd titled "Extinct". This album continues Moonspell's trend into darker and more gothic music.
On November 3, 2017, they released a concept album named "1755". It details the story of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and is sung entirely in Portuguese.