Moonspell
Hermitage


3.0
good

Review

by Robert Garland STAFF
February 28th, 2021 | 47 replies


Release Date: 02/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The purveyors of gothic doom strike a chord once again.

Back in the early 1990s Moonspell were the poster boys of the gothic doom scene, but for a band who’s existed for as long as I have been alive, (yes literally), I’ve sometimes found myself at a loss when visiting the band’s back-catalogue. Mostly I’ve found a sense of ‘enjoyment’ in whatever particular record is playing—but I’ve never been blown away by what the Portuguese based group has since offered. There were exceptions to the generalities expressed here (of course), but not to the levels I had hoped. Maybe I had set my expectations too highly, experiencing the likes of Irreligious and the band’s blackened, yet experimenting brand or later, in the forms of The Antidote and Night Eternal, which took concept and atmosphere to a whole new level (and are also personal favorites of mine). On a personal level I had thoughts this is a group that would transcend the basics of music, a true premiere act. It’s only now that I can look at Moonspell for what they are; a group inconsistent in quality, but enjoyable for all their quirks.

More recently, the group’s exports in Extinct and 1755 reaffirmed my thoughts on Moonspell. Yes, the music was enjoyable, but I fell into a feeling that some parts are simply better than others. The group’s inconsistencies spread not only from album to album, but into parts of the band’s latter day records. For Moonspell in 2021, Hermitage fails to break a trend of inconstant musical fluctuations, but they do manage to release another solid, albeit lack-lustre record.

Now that probably sounds a little harsh—but it’s not meant to be. Comparative to previous records, Hermitage is straight-forward, tame, and back to basics. Gone are most of the atmospheric tropes that would see titles like The Antidote and Night Eternal reach for the heights. Instead, “The Greater Good” ebbs gently into the fray with bombastic, even phrasing and insatiable grooves. The opening track’s larger themes are awash with some of the album’s more prominent atmosphere, before doing away with them, resorting to a landscape of simple progressions and occasionally forced vocal lines. Despite this, there’s a jarring switch to grunted roughness, namely in the track’s later sections. The harsh vocals that once had tone and power feel odd, out of place and frail in comparison.

As Hermitage moves forwards it’s clear that Moonspell’s magical energy is wavering. “All Or Nothing” takes a while to get into gear, but quickly resorts to melancholic murmurs and circling musical ideas. The melody that carries the seven-minute track in itself is nice, but once again Moonspell fails to achieve more than a passing grade. It’s lucky that this particular track has one of the better guitar solos of the band’s later career, otherwise there’d be little here to talk about.

Moving on.

The album’s title track is guilty of two things: some of the band’s best riffs [to date], along with “The Hermit Saints” and a firm reclamation of a listener who may find themselves on the fence about new Moonspell music. Still, it’s hard to justify why this particular album should be ranked amongst the band’s more prominent releases, especially when it’s only, at least in parts as great as those it’s compared with. I may be generalizing here, but if Hermitage could take the best features of the band’s discography and condense them into a fifty minute export, we wouldn’t be having the same conversations about quality, whilst reminiscing about Moonspell’s hey-day. At a glance, and with further, repeated listens Moonspell’s biggest failing in 2021 is in Ribeiro’ aging vocal nuance. One minute he’s belting out hooks, the next, shouting out forced, cheese-filled hooks. “Apophthegmata”, like “The Greater Good” ebbs into the fray, but is better than the former due to smoothness. Where “The Greater Good” jumped from melancholy to jagged abrasiveness, “Apophthegmata” transitions into smooth contrast. Ultimately, “Apophthegmata” should have opened the new album. The takeaway here: I simply expected better.

At a personal level I had hoped Moonspell would revisit some of that blackened atmosphere that saw the likes of The Antidote and Night Eternal cemented within my memory. Instead, the group has further streamlined the soundscapes found within Alpha Noir and continued dipping in vocal quality. If we follow the band’s trajectory over the course of the last few releases, one thing becomes clear; Moonspell definitely aren’t the same group that formed in the early 90s (a given for any group heading towards three decades as an act), but the likelihood that a new release will achieve the same prestige as the early days is becoming less and less—and yet, I don’t find myself hating this for what it is...approachable Moonspell for a casual, no-frills listen.



Recent reviews by this author
Intonate Severed WithinSkin Tension Machinic Impulses Of The Hyperreal
Blindfolded and Led to the Woods Nightmare WithdrawalsFuath II
Krallice Demonic WealthMork Katedralen
user ratings (45)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not completely happy with this review, a lot of fluff, not a lot of substance.



Listen to Moonspell's latest here:https://moonspell.bandcamp.com/album/hermitage

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


15911 Comments


Keep them coming mate ;) I'm afraid I'll skip this one

Digging: Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


12212 Comments


Without having listened to the entire album, I tend to agree with your rating. The songs I've checked were nice but left me with no desire to jam them again.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks manosg, the singles themselves I found really, really promising - but in the context of an album on repeat I kept getting lost.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


9095 Comments


Listening to this right now, and the review rating feels right in place, I'm afraid.

Digging: Vision Video - Inked in Red

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

On first half I was really enjoying this, had it at 4, but then the last tracks really started to drag this down.



I am not their biggest fan, but the first 3 or 4 tracks are really good.



Great rev as always Noct, 11 -11 ;)

Digging: Zao - The Crimson Corridor

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You’re a gem mr. dewi sir

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am worth quite some bitcoin I've been told!

rage11111ro
February 28th 2021


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Not sure why reviews are showing the full name of the user. I thought Nocte was quite rude with Robert Garland. I find the review very good but would highlight 2 things where I disagree: I am here with you on the inconsistency whilst I believe the peaks are fenomenal; it always takes a while to fully immerse into a Moonspell album (sometimes forever unfortunately) so although I am not thrilled on this either I am not giving up on it just yet.

Mythodea
February 28th 2021


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am not their biggest fan, but the first 3 or 4 tracks are really good [2]



My only connection with the band has been Alpha Noir/Omega White which I adored when it came out. Haven't checked anything since, and I can't say this strikes similarly as A.N. It's way mellower and lacks the power of songs like Lickanthrope or En Nome do Medo.



Still, I find it pretty enjoyable, atmospheric and with some great guitar licks, almost bluesy.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

— Not sure why reviews are showing the full name of the user. I thought Nocte was quite rude with Robert Garland.—



Not sure what this is about, I’ve had my name on reviews for the best part of a decade now (somehow missed the anniversary again). Unless you think that “Nocte” and Robert are two different users...?

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol please Nocte stop being rude to Robert Garland.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What if he’s a little bitch though, wouldn’t he deserve this kind of hard, critical self analysis?

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Absolutely, he deserves the punishment. Please continue.

rage11111ro
March 1st 2021


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This is about my lack of knowledge of how this works and thought it is funny to share no criticism whatsoever

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No, you are absolutely right, Nocte is a merciless critic but we all want the best for Robert Garland in the end.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm lost again. All I'm saying that me, myself and I which would include both parts of Nocte and all of Robert are one in the same.

rage11111ro
March 1st 2021


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yes, yes, I finally got it Nocte. Or Robert? Who am I talking to here?

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


24224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Now that's a good question

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2021


13964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Either, All, Us...together. We are groot!



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy