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Moonspell: Hermitage

Moonspell is an institution of gothic metal if there ever was one. Their debut album, Wolfheart, all the way back in 1994, had some hints as to what they would later become, but was largely a black/extreme metal album with a few paintbrush strokes of what most of us would be familiar calling "gothic" metal. Since then, they have been standard bearers of the genre, with the excellent sophomore album Irreligious paving the way for over 2 decades of dominance. Some albums since have added electronic effects and taken some twists and turns along the way, but with their newest album Hermitage, the band seems eager to plant a flag in the ground and show everyone who rules the roost when it comes to this kind of thing.

Largely an album themed in "getting back to basics," it's a mature album that has Moonspell revisiting some sounds from throughout their career, but with a nice sheen. This album sounds fantastic. The guitars sound particularly great, with varying degrees of crunch or twang to deliver the right vibe for the appropriate track. Fernando Ribiero's voice has developed into a much less cartoonish and deep sound when compared to something like Irreligious, which adds to the classy overall vibe of the album. The rest of the band sounds great too, especially with the multitude of keyboard and choral effects laced throughout the album being another home-run. It's just a treat to listen to.

The pacing on the album is also superb. Being a "gothic" band almost always requires a lot of material that has a somber and more depressive vibe. While there's plenty of that to be found here, there are more than enough hard and heavy tracks to keep things interesting and exciting. The fist-pumping and headbanging comes in full force for tracks like "Common Prayers" and the excellent title track, the latter of which having some particularly bad ass riffing. Fernando delivers harsh screams in addition to his silky-smooth clean delivery in songs like these and it sounds great and is never overused. The less hard-hitting numbers vary from the moody and dark ("Entitlement") to spacey and Pink Floydian ("All or Nothing.") Even most of these tracks have hard-hitting moments of intensity, however. Whether it be some particularly awesome choral or orchestral outbursts or some moody electric piano, there's always something to keep you on your toes.

Highlights are many on Hermitage and it’s hard to pick standout tracks when the whole thing is largely excellent. With its earwormy chorus and harmonized guitars, "Hermit Saints" may be my favorite of the whole bunch. It's a great rocking tune that blends a cocktail of all the best bits and bobs the album has to offer and throws it right in your lap with a pretty bow attached. That pretty bow is the sweet and gorgeous piano break towards the end. Just awesome.

This is a wonderful, moody, ass-kicking, and above all else mature album by these well-respected veterans of the scene. An audio treat to listen to as well as well written and engaging, there should be something almost any fan of heavy rock and metal can appreciate here. Crack a bottle of red wine and sit back for an (Ir)religious experience.

Track Listing:
1. The Greater Good
2. Common Prayers
3. All or Nothing
4. Hermitage
5. Entitlement
6. Solitarian
7. The Hermit Saints
8. Apoptheghmata
9. Without Rule
10. City Quitter (Outro)

Added: February 16th 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 634
Language: english

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