Dark Metal, Metal

Moonspell – Hermitage (Review)

Band: Moonspell
Album: Hermitage
Genre: Dark/Goth Metal
Country: Portugal
Release Date: 26th of February, 20210
Released via Napalm Records
Cover Artwork © Napalm Records, 2021

In 1992, Moonspell from Lisbon in Portugal started as a Black Metal group, already with their own approach, including violin, flutes and female vocals. Throughout the years, Moonspell changed their music. Less Satan, but more poetry and dark Folklore made them shift towards a Dark/Goth Metal band. Their last album 1755 from 2017 was about a big earthquake in that year, which destroyed the whole city of Lisbon. The album was sung in Portugese, except the Spanish version of “Desastre”.

Four years later now, end of February 2021, Moonspell are back again with their new album Hermitage. Ten tracks, including two instrumentals and a total playtime of roundabout 53 minutes. We have a clean, modern and effectful production with keys, echoes and doubled vocals. Overall, it’s a pretty calm album with just some louder and more aggressive parts. I need to think of a little Opeth and Depeche Mode, while listening to some of the tracks. Depeche Mode?
Yeah, somehow the clean vocals by Fernando Ribeiro could be changed with Dave Gahan’s vocals in lots of parts, their colour and style of phrasing is very similar in my ears. Additionally, there are some licks and melody-parts which give me this
Depeche Mode feeling as well. So, Mr. Gahan, if you read this, could you please give it a try so that we have something to compare? You can choose the song, no problem 😉

For example, take “All or Nothing”, this song gives us a good overview of what to expect from the album. There is an official video clip to the song on Youtube in case you’re interested. We start with calm drums, acoustic guitars and vocals, all above a layer of some synth/key pedal tones. So far so Opeth, then a clean electric guitar enters with a lick, quite bluesy and simple, with a nice bending. It could be used perfectly for a Depeche Mode song. Really. But in this case/song here, the lick is used for a build up in order to get into a more complex instrumental part, and here I have my Opeth feelings again, and going back to the clean part from the beginning.

The following track“Hermitage” comes along much bigger and heavier at the beginning, with more aggressive vocals. A big negative for me in here are the “oh”s and “ah”s from the keyboard in the background. They sound really cheap and unfitting. Would be nice to hear this someday with a real choir. “Entitlement” comes along with a gloomy, doomy atmosphere in the beginning, giving it up for some more sampled “oh”s and “ah”s. But thankfully, not the keyboard-choir again.

“The Hermit Saints” is carried by the vocal line in the beginning, sounding a little like an nursery rhyme, growing to one of the more evil songs of the album. “Apophthegmata” again has some more Dave-ly lines, but Fernando also uses his
rather deep and aggressive voice here.

I left out a few songs now, but because of the homogeneous nature of the album, I think you will have an idea of how the album sounds like, after listening to any of the songs. I think there won’t be any big suprises if you listened to each of the three different parts: The Dave-ly ones, the Opeth-ly ones, and the more aggressive ones, in which Fernando uses his deep growling voice. Don’t get this wrong, I really like the album. The similar build-ups and parts in the songs are, in my opinion
the style of the album. The only “downer” in here comes from the keyboard-choirs. I’m not sure if they just used some bad samples or what the problem was, but the more frequently I hear them, the less I want to hear them again. They sound like some late 90s sample. Instead of ignoring them, I started to focus on them while listening… Not the best thing.

7.5 / 10

Favorite Tracks:
“All Or Nothing”
“The Hermit Saints”

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