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Album Review: MOONSPELL Hermitage

9/10 Reviewer
Score

“We know that we are entering the final years of our career as musicians: the winter of our lifetime.”  – says frontman Fernando Ribiero.

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Nothing quite captures the essence of Moonspell’s Hermitage quite like this quote. While none of us want to think about our favorite bands entering the twilight of their career or their lives, it is a sad reality, but the melancholy behind Hermitage also makes for beautiful work.

The best way to describe this album is “atmospheric.” These Portuguese Goth Metal legends have crafted another set of bewitching songs that are, at times, purely hypnotic. None of this should come as a surprise for fans of Moonspell. They have already set the bar very high over the course of their nearly 30-year career, but, even then, this isn’t (just) another Moonspell album. They’ve continued to craft their sound and have taken yet another step forward. 

Lyrically, Hermitage is, in Ribiero’s words “…about turning our backs to the conventions of modernity. We are currently convincing ourselves that it’s all about us, that we (humanity) are everything. That the world revolves around us. However, ipsi facto, we are nothing and nothing revolves around us.”

This album opens up with the beautifully crafted single, “The Greater Good,” which is both thought-provoking and a rhythmic masterpiece. Hermitage continues with Goth Metal anthem “Common Prayers” and the ethereal piece “All or Nothing,” where atmosphere and melody are crafted together seamlessly.

These first three tracks already offer a fresh take on Moonspell and show further evolution of the band. The title track takes a heavy and twisted turn with perfectly placed and spooky backing choirs and epic bass lines that add to the gloominess and unease of the album. 

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Another album heavy hitter is “The Hermit Saints,” which is an imposing track that showcases Moonspell’s heavier side and shows just how dark they can get. This song was a particular highlight on the album as it brings together all of the darkness, skill, and power that has fueled Moonspell throughout the years and packs it into a truly powerful track.

These two tracks balance the album perfectly and the lyrical connection between the two is just *chef’s kiss.* The album creates a journey and a fully crafted story that, outside of concept records, is rare and creates an ebb and flow within the album that carries the listener through.

Instrumental track “Solitarian” adds more shades of gray to the album, playing around with the many nuances that come from the drums and guitars. The final track, also instrumental, closes the album on the somber note it opened with, creating a sense of longing with each note. 

Hermitage is a far more subtle album than 1755 or Extinct. Moonspell have created a balance between rock and knowing when to pull back and allow the music to tell their respective story. Hermitage pulls in influences from prog and metal, with clear influences of Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden. It is bleak and somber, with absolutely captivating melodies and plenty of power, conviction, and Gothic richness. 

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