Moonspell – Hermitage (Napalm)

Wednesday, 24th February 2021
Rating: 8.5/10

A band that has been dwelling in gothic darkness for almost 30 years, Moonspell has also managed to try new things and experiment a bit. To that end, Hermitage feels like another new step for the band. While it combines the dreariness and heavier aspects the band has called their own, it also has a sweeping and darkly cinematic tone and new found sense of maturity to it that makes it one of the band’s strongest releases to date.

There’s more melancholy than there is heaviness when it comes to Hermitage. That’s not a bad thing, however, and it makes the heavy parts resonate more than they might otherwise. Opener “The Greater Good” personifies this at the start with an excellent build up and breathtaking gothic tones before exploding in the latter part of the track. “The Hermit Saints” also dives into a back and forth between more introspective and heavy moments, and feels the most akin to some of the band’s earlier works. There’s a notable psychedelic vibe in addition to the melancholic one too, as “Solitarian” and “Without Rule” both incorporate an almost trippy mood that blends well, particularly the latter track combining with Fernando Ribeiro’s vocals to create an almost Pink Floyd-y feeling. Some tracks simply wallow in the morose feelings too, such as the potent “Entitlement,” where the sense of longing and introspection is palpable as Ribeiro’s vocals pull the chorus into an enchanting yet even gloomier direction. Likewise, “All or Nothing” resides in heart retching territory, all the way down to the sorrow-fueled solo later in the track.

With an emphasis on even darker gloom and introspection, there’s a deep emotional resonance to be found with Hermitage. Moonspell have written some depressive tunes that somehow stay vibrant and bewitching, and the combination of sorrow and Ribeiro’s enigmatic vocals make for an even more potent pairing. Like Moonspell has always somehow managed to do, Hermitage stays true to what they are at their core while reaching into new dark and dreamy directions.

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