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Moonspell - Hermitage Award winner

by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 26 March 2021, 9:32 AM

There are bands that are really hard to write about. It’s due the shifts in their musicality that are the deeper core of their personality. It means that there are bands that are constantly evolving, recreating themselves, but always keeping their natural features. And honestly, MOONSPELL is one of them, because every work they release is a trial for the fans and writers to deal with. And on “Hermitage”, their 13th album, things aren’t different. One important thing to say before speaking about “Hermitage”: it’s their first album without Miguel Gaspar (one of the founders of the band) on the drums. But Hugo works great was well.

Once more, the band is trying wrote in the Gothic Metal side of their music (remembering that, like a diamond, the band’s music has infinite shapes to take), but not as they did in the past. It’s heavy and nasty in some moments, but in the tender and deep melancholic and expressive parts, things are different, in a Gothic/Progressive/experimental way that isn’t usual for the Lusitanian Wolves. But it’s indeed a masterpiece, hard to swallow at first, but precious from the second time on.Fernando took the responsibility to produce the album, having Jaime Gomez Arellano (the same one who previously worked with PARADISE LOST, PRIMORDIAL, GHOST and SÓLSTAFIR) taking care of the recordings, mixing and mastering. Obviously it has an amazing sound quality, but in a clean way that is unexpected to their music, but that fits on this melancholic approach.

Once more: “Hermitage” isn’t an easy album to deal with only hearing it once. It takes time to be fully understood. But isn’t a sin to say that “The Greater Good” (a fine mix of contrasts between weighty and aggressive parts with melancholic moments, with a different way of singing from Fernando), the tender melodies and keyboards parts of “Common Prayers” and “All or Nothing” (this one shows very good guitars clean arrangements as well), the Hard ‘n’ Heavy essence of “Hermitage” (this one shows their aggressive side, with a heavy and technically very good work on bass guitar and drums), the somber ambience of “Entitlement”, the abrasive and defined melodic weight of “The Hermit Saints” (another great moment from keyboards and vocals, and some Folk/Progressive touches can be heard) and “Apophthegmata” (again, a set of contrasts between deeper melancholic moments with abrasive weight are heard), and the hypnotic appeal of “Without Rule” aren’t really amazing. Even the instrumental song “Solitarian” plays an important whole on the album. And on the Deluxe version, a precious version for “Darkness in Paradise”, from the Doom Metal master of CANDLEMASS.

Yes, the Lusitanian Wolves are still howling strong, and created a masterpiece that can be counted on top 10 lists of 2021. But once more (and for the last time): MOONSPELL isn’t a conventional band (and will never be), and “Hermitage” isn’t similar to their past releases or is an album to listen to once and to emit a frivolous opinion.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Greater Good
2. Common Prayers
3. All or Nothing
4. Hermitage
5. Entitlement
6. Solitarian
7. The Hermit Saints
8. Apophthegmata
9. Without Rule
10. City Quitter (Outro)
11. Darkness in Paradise
Fernando Ribeiro - Vocals
Ricardo Amorim - Guitars
Pedro Paixão - Keyboards
Aires Pereira - Bass
Hugo Ribeiro - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records


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