Portuguese dark metal giants, Moonspell have returned with their overall thirteenth album Hermitage, which was released on Friday, February 26th via Napalm Records. While this is their first album since 2017’s 1755, some may connect it with 2015’s Extinct as this record sees the return to English lyrics. With that being said, musically, Hermitage shows the group’s overall evolved style. While you may suggest it could have something to do with their new drummer, Hugo Ribeiro, I see the pandemic influencing this somber album.
The record moves with a progressive melody mixed with dark elements and melancholic undertones while having some semblance to their signature sound. You can easily get lost in this album, being it’s one seamless listen. The ending sneaks up on you, making you wonder if it’s a little bit short in length. However, you will be engaged with Hermitage from the first listen. It starts off heavy with songs “The Greater Good” and Common Prayers.” However, “All or Nothing” enhances Fernando Ribeiro’s vocals, seeing a mournful side leaving the listener feeling despair.
The title track crawls in next, picking up at a heavier pace adding a natural momentum to the record, making it one of the stronger songs. Once again, the pace continues to fluctuate, highlighting Fernando’s vocals, hearing his stream of dark thoughts. “Entitlement” and “Solitarian” are more experimental tracks showcasing some innovative guitar and keyboard works. The record picks back up with “The Hermit Saints,” which is the song you can connect most with their prior efforts. The music continues to travel through different melodies as the progressive experimentation continues with “Apophthegmata.” The album concludes with “Without Rule,” which is one of the stronger tracks as it explores the insanity of the world.
Hermitage is a collection of human suffering translated to a dark joyride exploring pain through haunting melodies. You could summarize it as a beautiful tragedy, one you’re willing to experience over and over again.