Label: Napalm Records
Date: February 26th, 2021
As far as I could see, there’s even another Moonspell release published on the same date as this one. Whatever that might bring, I’m not all too curious to find out. Some sort of a concept probably, just by judging on the covers of both this one and the EP titled “Before the Lights Go Out”. Leftover song or something else, doesn’t quite matter to me. I’ve simply had enough. I mean, never was there a band that needed their fans to check every album prior to actually purchasing it. With almost every Moonspell release, there is a dire need for something like that. And this is coming from a big fan of the band, as I am. The Portuguese legends have gone back and forth with every style imaginable, and I have a feeling they have pretty much lost their ground in the process.
If this was any other band, I would say the album is heavily influenced by Moonspell. However, it would be just as inspired by Katatonia, Opeth, Dream Theater or even Pink Floyd (“Without Rule”). In other words, “Hermitage” sounds to me like they’ve gone bonkers again, just like with “The Butterfly Effect”. Just not in the same direction.
Okay, I might be too harsh with the album. Still, I’ve come to expect a much more straight forward approach. The trouble might just be in the fact that I’ve come to expect at all. Moonspell is clearly looking to expand its sound as much as they can. Have they gone a bit too far? It is my personal opinion that they have. And not for the first time in their career. That’s the one problem I’m having here. Sure, “Hermitage” bears the now recognizable points of reference to the doom / gothic metal roots of the band. Black metal is all but gone, likely never to rear its ugly head again. In its stead, we’ve got a lot of progressive rock (or metal), some clear pop touches and a whole lot of experimentation. And, a bit too much of a romance going around the soundscape, where bands like HIM or To/Die/For thrived back in the day.
Another thing… This is actually a very good record. Extremely enjoyable, one must admit. Except the cover artwork which is way too computerized for such organic and loose ideas that lurk from the CD itself. Fact is that Moonspell once again went its own way, almost entirely disregarding expectations. “Hermitage” is, by far, the most trying album of their career. It takes time and patience to get to you, but it eventually does. And when it does, it hits hard. So long as you forget most of what you know about the band, you will have a great time with the album.
In the end, that’s what counts the most.