After the epic live release of Lisboa Under the Spell, Portuguese gothic metal pioneers Moonspell are back with their first studio album in three and a half years. If compared to the orchestral and conceptual predecessor 1755, thirteenth studio album Hermitage sounds a bit less complex and slower but also more atmospheric and melodic. The opening track ”The Greater Good” exemplifies this new approach very well. It starts with an enchanting overture based upon mantra-like chants, eerie guitar tones and minimal keyboard use. The track picks up some energy and speed when the bass and creative drum patterns kick in but it nevertheless steadily continues its dark journey. The highlight of the first half of the tune is a heartfelt guitar solo and the most remarkable element about its second part is the switch from soothing melodic vocals to unchained harsh vocals. This kind of song certainly needs a few spins to unfold and might not be the greatest choice as an opener or first single. On the other side, it represents the album rather well and benefits from an organic production.
The album only includes a few short, energetic and concise tunes but they work very well in the context of a more elegiac record. Title track ”Hermitage” is the best of these tracks with its simple but efficient guitar riffs, thunderous drum patterns and desperate screams that show yet again a variation in vocal styles. Most songs are rather slow, long and need some time to open up. The best tune of this bunch is certainly ”All or Nothing” with its melodic and almost sacral tone towards the end. The song yieldingly builds up progressively a more gripping atmosphere that culminates towards the end of the ambitious running time of seven and a half minutes. It’s the kind of song that is best enjoyed with your eyes closed in an isolated room as this creative track inspires many ideas and images.
The record’s second half is overall slightly less impressive as some of the longer tunes fail to leave an impact. The songwriting should have been a bit more precise to avoid that the record fizzles out towards the end. In the end, Moonspell’s Heritage is a good album with a few small weaknesses. It takes some time to unfold before the full effect is felt. Expect a slow, melodic and atmospheric gothic metal album that sounds quite mellow and eerie. The band gives reminiscent nods to some of its records released at the beginning of the new millennium. By doing so, Moonspell offers soundscapes one hasn’t heard for quite some time while still preserving its unique trademarks with melodic guitar work, gloomy songwriting and variable vocals. Overall this is a great effort but subjectively not their best. Give this album some patience and a few spins and it will grow on you with time.
Overall Score: 8.0/10
Contribution by: UnderTheSpell666
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