Since forming in Lima, Peru, in late 2001, by ex-members of Melquiades and Darken, Reino Ermitano have produced some of the most inspiring and artistic Doom Metal of the last 10 years. Two recordings really stand out, one is 2008's "Rituales Interiores" and the 2006 album "Brujas del Mar" which i am going to talk about here. What makes Reino Ermitano so unique and such a interesting band is that they follow some of the rules from the Doom Metal handbook while other rules they throw away completely and put a unique twist on the genre by incorporating 70's rock influences such as a Jethro Tull kind of folk-rock sound to their albums. They also have one of the most stunning female vocalists in Tania Duarte, a vocalist that are gained quite a mix reaction from the doom community. Not everyone is mesmerized by her voice like i am, her voice was even called "infantile" in one review and in another "bland and undeveloped". Such opinions haven't hurt the band though, they are much admired for their musical ability and the creative ways they construct albums. "Brujas Del Mar" is simply a masterpiece, a timeless journey of different moods and emotions that among other things represent freedom from all of society's constrictions.
Reino Ermitano ("Hermit Kingdom") and the Brujas Del Mar' ("Witches of the Sea") is a hour of charismatic music that flows perfectly between crushing heaviness and somber moods and sometimes all within the one song. After the intro "La Corte" comes "Curandero De Una Realidad Incierta" with a riff, Saint Vitus would be proud of and add to that Tania Duarte's emotive doominess and you have a sound that is one part pure doom, another part kind of tribal. "Voragine" is as solid as any Doom song ever written with stunning guitar work from Henry Guevara who has now been replaced with Eloy Arturo who is a killer guitar player in his own right. There is other crushing doom in songs like "Crepuscular" and "Hoy, La Tarde" that take the vibe of Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Pentagram and give it a earthy, native feel that i am guessing comes from their Peruvian background. They also blend in other instruments that are rare for a doom band such as mandolin's and flutes, these mellow touches only make the heavier parts even more heavier and they insert these elements at just the right time to full effect. "Elipses" is one track where they blend insidious riffage with a macabre, ethereal atmosphere and if you dig horror-tinged dirges like that, then this album is for you.
Elsewhere on the album, "El Fauno", "Rosas Del Reves", "Oceania" and the closing "Magdalena Del Mar" are all outstanding moments of songwriting brilliance. There is i must admit, a couple of downtime's but those moments are short and few and far between the cavalcade of Traditional Doom riffing that is so high up on the class scale. While this is Traditional Doom Metal, they blend a songwriting ethic forged on the likes of classic rock bands from Jethro Tull to Budgie giving them a character that is Reino Ermitano and no one else. Its Doom Metal for the mature Doom Metal fan that gives you a kind of spiritual high while listening to them. It must also be noted that Marcos Coifman (bass) and Julio Almeida (drums) are a amazing duo that is only matched by Butler/Ward or Jones/Bonham for a rhythm feel that is all their own. Tania Duarte’s consistently emotive vocals paint pictures in your mind and her voice is one that is natural and expressive. While Duarte's delivers the lyrics in her Spanish tongue, if you are like me you wont even notice it. Her voice blends so well with the instrumentation that its like another instrument in itself and for those who have reservations about foreign language bands, fear not – Reino Ermitano provide English translations to their lyrics.
There is a very few bands in the Doom scene of now to compare Reino Ermitano to, it is more relevant to compare them to obscure late 60's bands like Chile's Aguaturbia for example but played with mind numbing, minor-chord riff excursions. In conclusion, "Brujas Del Mar" is a hypnotic album played by excellent musicians creating something to stand the test of time. Dark, cerebral and mesmerizing it is their best album thus far with their other albums running a close equal second. If you have never heard them, do it soon. 9.5/10
Reino Ermitaño @ MySpace