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Moonspell - Hermitage review




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Reviewer:
8.6

260 users:
7.68
Band: Moonspell
Album: Hermitage
Release date: February 2021


01. The Greater Good
02. Common Prayers
03. All Or Nothing
04. Hermitage
05. Entitlement
06. Solitarian
07. The Hermit Saints
08. Apophthegmata
09. Without Rule
10. City Quitter (Outro)
11. Darkness In Paradise [Candlemass cover] [bonus]


"Hermitage is an open-hearted invitation to simplicity. To be humble. To be thankful. To serve you solace. Provide you comfort, entertainment. We sincerely hope this call reaches you. That you kindly accept what we offer. That you take our music with you to the place you must feel as yours. To your secret place, to your hermitage. Blessed be." - Fernando Ribeiro

With the band approaching 30 years of existence and their long-time drummer Mike Gaspar having just left the band, the creative engine of Moonspell is still going strong. Hermitage is album number 13 for them. And for an experienced band with a chameleon approach to songwriting, you should most definitely expect the unexpected.

Simplicity is a key word here. There is a relaxed in-control reverence to everything about gothic metal and rock here that resonates well with me. Evocations of The Sisters of Mercy, Tiamat and Paradise Lost seem to sprout in the confines of every track. Add to that an emphasis on acoustic guitars and mid-tempo tunes and you will understand why this is something familiar yet special. Songs like "All or Nothing" and the delightful Katatonia-like "Entitlement" highlight the softer side of Moonspell. There is a strong Darkness and Hope vibe here. By that I mean the band has managed to balance the darker and lighter aspects of their sound successfully once more.

Now, for the surprise. Hermitage has a dual identity. You are thinking "Yeah yeah Alpha Noir / Omega White, I know what to expect". Well, no, not quite. It is more of a dichotomy between the first half of the album, a.k.a the singles that have been released and my observations above, and the second half, which is more along the track of that softer progressive version of Opeth influenced by Steven Wilson. Spiced that up with a new refreshing progressive approach to rhythm on drums, which can be attributed to new member Hugo Ribeiro, and that second half of Hermitage is uncharted territory akin to what famous Portuguese navigators conquered. A good example of that is "Solitarian", a rare instrumental that showcases that groovy new sound. Pedro Paixão shines on keyboards through and through in this new concept.

I have been a fan since 1996 and have witness the band's evolution throughout the years from black to gothic and shades in between. It has been a great musical journey with truly memorable albums and Hermitage is no exception. The Portuguese outfit was never one to be told what to do in terms of musical direction. Their integrity and commitment to releasing great music no matter the overall direction will forever remain enviable and admirable.

Hermitage is not your typical Moonspell record. While it feels like a very reflective sort of output, it also offers new avenues with a huge shift behind the drumkit and a renewed commitment to atmospheric keyboards. This is most definitely quality music. Moonspell has always been a band mastering contrast and thriving on the element of surprise. At this point in their career, they are taking yet another chance while paying homage to their past. Overall, that was a gutsy move that can only be applauded. So all I can say is: Well played guys. E muito obrigado.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8





Written on 16.02.2021 by Bringing you reviews of quality music and interesting questions such as:

"A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a song worth?"

I have only got so much patience and skills, you do the math.


Comments

Comments: 24   Visited by: 374 users
16.02.2021 - 06:41
Rating: 9
The Melting Snow

I was worried about who would review Hermitage. Because I felt it was important that the reviewer understands the, as you call it, "chameleon" approach that Moonspell has towards it's music.

For a "the band just isn't good enough to make another Wolfheart/Irreligious" type of guy, there would have been a lot less good things to say about the album.

I enjoyed the singles. They've grown on me considerably well and I think it'll be the same way with the album. I am just in awe of how Moonspell can totally wipe the slate clean and start a new album with a fresh approach.
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16.02.2021 - 06:42
Rating: 9
The Melting Snow

Interesting review, though I wish there was more mention of the individual songs (just 3 songs mentioned, in passing) or specifics of instrumentation, lyrics, vocals etc. But I see you approach the album as a whole, which is fine too.
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16.02.2021 - 10:12
Rating: 9
The Melting Snow

Also, how come the review isn't showing on the home page?
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16.02.2021 - 16:42
Rating: 8
musclassia

Written by The Melting Snow on 16.02.2021 at 10:12

Also, how come the review isn't showing on the home page?


We have a queue in place so that each review gets at least 8 hours at the top of the front page before the next one is posted, so if there are multiple published within a condensed framework, they'll appear on the homepage in 8-hour intervals in order of which was published first; means that if a bunch get posted at once, the first one doesn't get drowned by the rest.


On the topic of this album, as someone who didn't overly click with Moonspell when I tried their classic albums yonks ago but has rather enjoyed the last 3 albums they've put out (particularly Extinct), I'm looking forward to this and seeing where they've gone next
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16.02.2021 - 17:48
Lanthros

You pretty well described the mail reason I've always enjoyed moonspell. Their ability to shape shift (pun intended). Of course I've enjoyed some albums more then others and there's no rhyme or reason as to which ones either. I'm looking forward to this one
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16.02.2021 - 18:19
Nuno Mess

8.6 the 3º best album by Moonspell 😂😂😂! Ridiculous...
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Cheers...!
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16.02.2021 - 20:26
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
Written by Nuno Mess on 16.02.2021 at 18:19

8.6 the 3º best album by Moonspell 😂😂😂! Ridiculous...

I do not rate based on average user ratings, the rate is my personal opinion.

To me, this album is one of the best things they have ever done. So yeah, 8.6 makes sense.

Matosinhos is a great place to live by the way, I visited 2 years ago on a summer vacation
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17.02.2021 - 02:12
nikarg
Mod
Spot-on review, the description of the album is perfect. And I feel exactly the same about Moonspell, also been a fan since the beginning. I love everything they have done with the exception of Sin / Pecado and The Butterfly Effect.

Hermitage is bold; Moonspell have never done before tracks like "All Or Nothing", "Solitarian", and "Without Rule" (and all three of them are stellar). I really like the new drummer and his more proggy playing. I have listened to the album three times and I need a lot more plays for it to sink in but I am definitely not disappointed and I can see myself coming to love it after a few more listens.
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17.02.2021 - 07:38
Metal Spartan

New Moonspell, Helstar, Empyrium and Epica all coming out on the 26th. Damn, my ears are gonna be bleeding by the end of that day.

Great review and it sounds very promising. Not surprised though. Moonspell have been one of the few bands that can sound different with each album, but somehow, still sound familiar. It takes a lot of talent to do that and to continue coming up with quality music, but Moonspell always pulls it off. Well, maybe not as much with Butterfly Effect as nikarg pointed out, but even that still had a few standout tracks on it. That is why I consider these guys not only one of my top gothic/black metal bands, but one of my top overall bands of all time. Looking forward to hearing the album.🤘
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17.02.2021 - 12:29
Enemy of Reality
Account deleted
Welp, honestly i didn't like any of singles, but since i've been following this band since 96 i'll definitely give the album a few spins.

I also have a gripe with that statement. Sounds like those IG bio's: "world traveller, only god knows who i am, humble, easy going, bad temper".
If your art is simple and humble it will sound like that, no need for pompous statements with fluffy words.
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18.02.2021 - 09:15
Rating: 8
Ball Fondlers

Nice review, I wasn't overly impressed by the singles, but they are starting to grow on me. I look forward to listening to the album as a whole to see how it all gels together. And I'm interested to hear the second half of the album, although I'm hoping it's not Moonspell turning into another "prog" band kind of thing.
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18.02.2021 - 10:28
Rating: 9
The Melting Snow

Written by Guest on 17.02.2021 at 12:29


If your art is simple and humble it will sound like that, no need for pompous statements with fluffy words.


going by that logic, no book would have a preface, no picture would have a caption and no movie would have a synopsis. Knowing what the artist is aiming for does give you perspective, and for a band that changes concepts and styles as frequently as Moonspell does, it's good to know which way they're going this time.
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20.02.2021 - 14:35
Enemy of Reality
Account deleted
Written by The Melting Snow on 18.02.2021 at 10:28

Written by Guest on 17.02.2021 at 12:29


If your art is simple and humble it will sound like that, no need for pompous statements with fluffy words.


going by that logic, no book would have a preface, no picture would have a caption and no movie would have a synopsis. Knowing what the artist is aiming for does give you perspective, and for a band that changes concepts and styles as frequently as Moonspell does, it's good to know which way they're going this time.


That's your interpretation of what i wrote. You sound like if i didnt like this statement, then i must dislike all prefaces, statements, introductions. That's a radical approach to someone's opinion. Nowhere i said giving a context, preface, introduction, wtv to your art isn't acceptable. My gripe is with this statement and words chosen.
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22.02.2021 - 15:17
Rating: 9
The Melting Snow

Just heard the album through the streaming link shared on the band's Patreon, and WOW. I love it.

I agree with the review even more now. the guitars are extremely diverse throughout the album, and the vocal delivery matches the lyrics so well.
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28.02.2021 - 05:32
Frane

Hey!, moonspell along their years of experience has been mutating like a chamaleon without any issue. Me and the readers who follow moonspell from the first albums, we can unserstand the need of those musicians to explore and explore.... i feel happy and thankfull about this!!

We can debate on this a lot... but no one has said nothing about th album sound.... it sound delicate, open and elegant! many many cheers for Mr Arellano!! (a good Chilean guy!!) it is a real pleasure to listen to those hundreds of atmospheres and sounds along the album....

In my opinion, this is an excellent album! Thanks Moonspell.
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04.03.2021 - 22:25
Rating: 6
Chidder

I bought the mediabook version of the album and... well, I don't like it. At all. I listen to Moonspell for over 20 years, I have all the albums, all the singles and promo singles. I loved the boldness of "Sin/Pecado" (I have this release in three versions...), decadency of "Butterfly Effect", melancholy of "Omega White" or the cathiness of "Extinct". "Hermitage" however is just... meh. I wanted to like it, but I just can't. And I miss Mike Gaspar.
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05.03.2021 - 17:13
omjaimes
omjaimes
"Solitarian" reminds me Ulver... great performance
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06.03.2021 - 16:21
Rating: 7
tsd

As the world has gone on pause, so has Moonspell with their latest effort.
After several spins (yes, of an old fashioned CD) in the car, on a hifi and as background music to other activies: a solid Moonspell album, memorable as well as forgettable at the same time.
Memorable due to its excellent promo track: All or Nothing is a grower.
The new album shares plenty from the bag of Moonspell tricks they have done in the past. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, for it shares trickery (in particular in its guitar, bass & keyboard estates) from the more memorable post Wolfheart albums.

One example being the eponymous anthem, with a Wolfheart-esque feel to it. Without Rule is a nice reminder of their roots in Irreligious. Entitlement sounds very much like a song from their more Darkness and hope era.

The forgettable side I found myself skipping after a few listens was Common Prayers, sounding as if to showcase their new drummer, a very good one, mind but unlike their previous output. Could the inclusion of such songs be a mere lithmus test how well that direction will go down with their fan base? True this is a new guy but time will tell how his presence will affect Moonspell's output. Apophthegmata is one track where he stands out in lockset with the band (noting the excellent vocal, bass, keyboard & guitar work on the track).

The album wouldn't be without its share of Moonspell annoyances (which album doesn't have them?), the Hermit Saints is another skipper, a track that is both musically and vocally annoying.

Overall, the album is still Moonspell at its heart, albeit a downtempo one. But it doesn't do the band any justice to compare its latest effort to clearly proggy bands on account of a few guitar or keyboard parts here and there. It's still the work of a non-progressive metal band with a distinct gothic metal output. Don't even suggest seeking inspiration from Steven Wilson running too many bands aground into the same musical Waters (pun intended). An excellent guitar solo driven song such as Solitarian needs no comparison to the Floyd or Wilson.

Rating this a solid 7, while the album is a bit experimental, it's still the good, familiar Moonspell, distictly sharing from their past (in a balanced way, certainly not going to the levels of Rotting Christ riff re-use).
Granted, it does not reach the heights of the experimental side of Sin/Pecado, which I doubt they would pursue at this juncture in their career.

In its lyrical themes, this one will also go down as a covid-esque era Moonspell album. It's dreary and bleak, in fitting with the times. I hope not it does not become their final 'all-or-nothing' effort.
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06.03.2021 - 16:36
nikarg
Mod
Written by tsd on 06.03.2021 at 16:21

As the world has gone on pause, so has Moonspell with their latest effort.

Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, this is good enough to be a review instead of a simple comment. I wish you had submitted it as such.
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06.03.2021 - 17:22
Rating: 7
tsd

Quote:
Written by nikarg on 06.03.2021 at 16:36


Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, this is good enough to be a review instead of a simple comment. I wish you had submitted it as such.


I'm flattered but the original, very good review it's quite enough to comment on.
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12.03.2021 - 00:33
Rating: 9
Tuonelan

I think it is an excellent, moody, atmospheric album with fantastic, understated guitar work. As such, I don't give a fuck if it is a great Moonspell album or not. I didn't buy it for the name or for the back catalog.

I'd love to see them support this on a tour alongside Disillusion. Think they would complement each other nicely.
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Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
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14.03.2021 - 02:31
Darkside Momo
Retired
Written by Tuonelan on 12.03.2021 at 00:33

I'd love to see them support this on a tour alongside Disillusion. Think they would complement each other nicely.

While I don't really see how they relate to each other (maybe on the sligtly introspective/moody vibe of their latest albums ?), I certainly would love to see two of my fave bands touring together
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My Author's Blog (in French)


"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you"

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I am awake"
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16.03.2021 - 03:08
Rating: 8
tintinb

Great album, however getting a lot of alternative vibes rather than gothic vibes.
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Leeches everywhere.
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18.05.2021 - 19:47
Rating: 9
metalbrat

Sad you did not review track by track but I do agree with the overall opinion and rating about the album. Solid album.
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In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘
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