Double shot on Russia’s Dark City!
Great reviews for both “Secular Music” and “Godless Years” in the may/june issue of top Russian magazine Dark City.
After many years of silence the Italian cult black metal band Hortus Animae returns with the new album “Secular Music”. The name of the album and also the title of the songs kinda talk about their attitude towards organized religions and an apocalyptic present, so it is not hard to imagine the direction of the lyrics. In Hortus Animae’s music always crossed different styles, and the new album is no exception. Here we have classic black metal, gothic and even prog! The musicians always gravitated around progressive rock, but this tendency is more visible on this new album. That said, the music does not become too eclectic and marginal. All together it sounds very harmonic, nothing gets out. The noticeable thing is that the album has been released by the old British label Flicknife Records, famous also for their work with Hawkwind in the 80’s – and there is some echo of this band in the music, even though I hear more familiarity with Arcturus… During the last several years the musicians of the band have been busy in different projects. But, Martyr Lucifer, the vocalist of the band decided to gather everyone together again and proposed to record the album. Even the famous drummer Grom (Ancient, Doomsword), that now lives in USA came to Italy for this important meeting. Decision was taken and the works began. The result is just marvellous. All the composition are listenable in one breath, despite the impressive length. Surely one must listen attentively to this music, you can’t just keep it as background, as in each song many different things happen – a piano solo starts, and then a synth solo, and then a virtuoso guitar solo appears. But I will repeat that everything is woven harmoniously in the structure of the compositions. The main thing – is the general atmosphere that gets created, by all the details and the fabulous Martyr’s vocals. You can really hear how much more varied and interesting his voice became during these years. He shows his mastery with scream/growl, but also different kinds of clean vocals… As last track comes an interesting cover for the song “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull. A very strong come back from this legendary band!
Contemporarily with the new album, Hortus Animae released a retrospective collection of their works. Two discs with previously unreleased demos, singles, outtakes and a 2002 concert. The first disc contains two tracks that didn’t enter the new album “Secular Music” – cover versions of the bands Entity and Baratro (which sound as classic Hortus Animae, with the amplitude of keys and leading violin), 2004’s promo single with Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leave’s Eyes) on vocals and 2002’s demo versions of the album “Waltzing Mephisto”. Everything has been compiled so that it is listenable as one entire album and this is the big plus of this compilation. The second disc begins with the live versions – maybe the only one available: Hortus Animae for different reasons were more a studio project, that is why it will be very cognitive to listen how they played live. The recording quality is that of a good bootleg; everything restored by the Italian sound engineer Simone Mularoni – enough to have a general idea. A very rare demo of 1998, made up of five tracks, recorded by the first line up of the band, closes the disc. This beautifully composed compilation allows us to hear how the band developed during many years and that undoubtedly will be interesting for all the fans.