Hortus Animae

“The wait has its end” Hortus Animae in Sonic Seducer Magazine Germany (September 2014)

HA rev

Review translation: Hortus Animae returned after nine years of break and delivered their third album “Secular Music”. Already the first track “God and His Disgusting Children” is characterized by extreme hard riffs and a mix of soul (Editor’s note: we’re almost sure in German they meant something else ahah). Voices are unleashed wild screams. “At the End of Doomsday” was already regarded as a highlight of the album as perfect track number four in the playlist. Not without reason the album was initially under this working title. Drums and soft voices create an eerie atmosphere, making it the calm before the storm, when hard riffs come, before continuing with “The Poison of the Naga”, like a snake it creeps, and then attacks violently and hisses alarming its senses. It’s known this track is one of singer Martyr’s favourite. And you can feel such passion. “Impromptu Op. II” initially seems out of place because there is no voice. It is yet a typical black metal interlude and under gentle acoustic guitar, piano and placid rhythmic whistle we get the mystical atmosphere inspired by what is profane (secular) music. In “Chamber of Endless Nightmares” the strong tone we know of Hortus Animae returns. All in all, “Secular Music” is a successful album and a good return for the band. (Editor’s note: computer translated)


What does the Secular Music mean to you?
Martyr Lucifer: If you mean the album it surely means a return, because we are finally back after 9 years of standby. It also represents a challenge, because, you know many years have passed and we practically kinda had to start again, and we didn’t have in mind the finished result. On the contrary this album guided us riff after riff, melody after melody, words that stitch after stitch made a lace of lyrics. So, it is an album of our rebirth that was practically born itself. If you mean instead the meaning of the “expression”, Secular Music, then I can tell that at first, the working title of the album was “At the End of Doomsday” as a song contained in it, then one day I came across the concept of “Secular Music”, that is non-religious music, I proposed it to the band, and they loved it. We knew we had found the perfect title! A title that fully represented us both lyrically and musically, and just perfect for our comeback album, two words that completely take a picture of ourselves, that represent us and what our music has been and represented until now.

How would you describe the difference to your Albums before?
ML: Well, you can still hear it’s Hortus Animae, I mean, all the ingredients that enriched our spectrum of sound are still here, yet we added new ones, new influences, new type of sounds (especially synth sounds, where we used both very vintage and modern ones), different kinds of arrangements, etc. Moreover all the experiences we’ve made separately when the band was not active, added some shades to the general picture. So in the end I would say that “Secular Music” is a much more focused album, than those in the past, yet probably our most progressive and varied album to date.

Is there a deeper Message in Secular Music?
ML: Yes there is! They say that nowadays almost no-one cares about lyrics, but I prefer to think differently. And then, anyway it is satisfying to write and sing what expresses the thoughts and feelings that one has… But if you want to know if it’s a concept… Yes and no. It is not a concept in the strict sense, definitely. Let’s say that all the songs revolve around the concept of apocalypse, trying to probe a variety of perspectives, the apocalypse for someone can be a total destruction, for someone a rebirth, an elevation on a spiritual level, etc. etc..
So these lucubrations also revolve around the spirituality of man, you know, I don’t see the so-called Satan and the so-called God as two different entities, respectively dressed in black and white. I see it more like as described in Vedic concepts. See for example, Shiva. He is the creator, preserver, and destroyer of all. Is he good, is he bad? It is something out and beyond those limited dogmatic lines. It is not in vain that all the known religions of the world (including pagans) take their roots from ancient Vedas. So this is the concept that I like, and not religion in the way that we see it now. It is something much deeper. Call it spirituality or whatever words you like, but something that is not separated from us, but yet flows through all our life, and that is life itself. A little shard of this concrete theme you can find better explained in the song “The Poison of the Naga” for example. By my answer I think it’s understandable that I am strongly against all organized religions and how they have been sold to us since our tender ages. And obviously there is music! Because music carries a message as well, it is a dragon on which a daemon sits, let’s say, and so the same important and powerful. Music is not so direct as words, and mostly influences a sensual part, so it is a little harder to explain with words.

In retrospect of producing and writing: Is there a Song on your new Album that means most to you?
Hmmm… It’s really hard to say, in fact we were once discussing this topic with the guys. Each of us has his preferences even if they are slight… I could say “At the End of Doomsday” as it was written entirely by me, music and lyrics, but I think my vote goes for “The Poison of the Naga”. Like a snake it creeps, and then attacks violently and hisses alarming its senses. Lyrically it touches antique knowledge and legends that I have respect for. What to tell! It’s as cool as the skin of a snake – give it a chance!

What has happened in the meantime? (Other Projects etc.)
It’s been a very long rest. Well, we kept ourselves busy with the most diverse music projects, Grom with his rock band Testing Tomorrow, Bless with his acoustic project Nashville & Backbones, Hypnos with a Tarantino-inspired project called The Gangstar, and I had started my own solo goth project Martyr Lucifer, with which I’ve released two albums, “Farewell to Graveland” and “Shards”, beside working with Space Mirrors, an international space rock collective.

Why did you decide to reunite and work on new Songs?
The idea of starting Hortus Animae again had been buzzing around already for a number of years, but due to our schedules, we never had time to meet and seriously talk about it. But it evidently was inside of us during all of those years. Grom started sending me emails telling me to restart Hortus Animae three or four years ago, but my response always was, “I don’t know, we don’t have time…” Despite that, the idea was growing in me as well. Then, when we released both the “Funeral Nation” boxset in 2008 and its ‘pocket version’ “Funeral Nation MMXII” in 2012, we saw from the great feedback of press and fans worldwide that our name had been kept alive in spite of the many years of inactivity, which made the idea stronger. So one day Hypnos, Bless, and I met and I told them, “So guys, let’s do it?” and… We did it!

What has changed in the past years?
A lot of things have changed, as said, all of us had our adventures in side projects, completely or just slightly different from Hortus Animae. So it gave us experience, a larger view over music and the world in general and being Hortus Animae a cradle for all, a Garden of the Soul that gave us birth and raised us, growing with us, we just couldn’t abandon it.

Is there anything that our readers definitely need to know about Hortus Animae and your new Album?
I think I already told a big part of it previously in fact. Also it is hard because Hortus Animae being not only a band but almost a concrete place with its paths, crypts and remains of statues of the past each can find something of his own. We have been criticised by some people for the too much variety in our sound, but as a matter of fact it’s also what we are mostly praised for. So come to the Garden of The Soul, it has a place for you for sure.

You now signed with Flicknife. How is working with the new Label and how did you meet first?
I got in touch with them already some years ago, they always showed interest towards our music, even though we still were inactive as band. So, of course we’ve contacted them, among other labels, when we finished the recordings for “Secular Music”, different offers came in but we decided theirs was the one which seemed to suit our needs best.
And working with them is also a challenge, I mean, they are a historic label from the past, they worked with Hawkwind, to name one on all, but they are mostly a rock label. So we are their first extreme metal band. This clearly represents a challenge, for them and for us, a challenge we’re all sure we’ll win by joining our forces.

What does the future hold for Hortus Animae?
We have recruited new adepts for the live rituals and we hope to be dominating stages as soon as possible. We really miss playing gigs and it’s about time we start doing it and in the more places we can. We’re also writing new material, we’ve been on hold for too long and we definitely still have a lot to say!

Hortus Animae’s “Doomsday” (alternative mix/edit) is included in Sonic Seducer’s compilation “Cold Hands Seduction #157″