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Hortus Animae
Waltzing Mephisto
October 2003
Released: 2003, Black Lotus Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Night of the Realm

This release rather caught me by surprise because, quite frankly, I was expecting this silly-looking disc billed as “symphonic black metal” to be complete and utter goth-crap. I’m pleased to anounce that I was wrong.



Formed in 1997, and with only one previous album to their name, Hortus Animae already have a strong working formula behind their music, blending doom, death, even some thrash, as well as symphonic gothic elements and atmospheric passages.



Despite my initial trepidation, I am pleased to anounce that I enjoyed WALTZING MEPHISTO in its entirety. Is this “imposing and majestic black metal” as the label claims? Not a chance. What we end up with is difficult to describe, but imagine taking the best moments of the latest Old Man’s Child album: IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE (see my review of that album in the May archives), and adding in some early Dark Tranquillity, a little Opera IX, maybe some Rakoth or Arcturus, and finish it up with some symphonic atmospheric elements.



A seven second intro simply titled “.” (How queer is that?). We move along into “Enter” which opens with a great marching-paced riff and some delicate backing keys. At about 1:30, however, the song explodes into an absolute frenzy. The amazing part here is the drumming, provided by Grom, who also performed in Doomsword, quite possibly the best band ever to come from Italy. (I can argue here for Stormlord as well, and their drummer David Folchitto as Italy’s finest). Grom manages to pull off some insane combinations of kicks and rides not only through the fury of “Enter,,” but throughout the album as well. Come to mention it, the last half of the song sounds quite a bit like a Stormlord tune. “A Lifetime Obscurity part II” features myriad different elements, from doomy Sabbath licks to a crazy keyboard piece reminding me of some kind of insanity circus music throughout its eleven minute duration. “Springtime Deaths” is perhaps my favourite song on the album. Starting out on a doomy goth note for the first 90 seconds or so, it proceeds into what I can only describe as “goth-thrash” with a great solo at 2:50 or so. The momentum of the song, however, is broken by another melancholic goth interlude before closing out with another thrashy outburst. “Souls of the Cold Wind” is another fast song bordering on thrash that is slightly less schizophrenic in nature, but still changes from thrash into pseudo-power metal, and finally into doom. “Welcome the Godless” can only be described as insane. Total thrash riffs drive the song, and the drum solo in the closing moments seals it in place.



Perpaps the most interesting song on the album is a trio of covers rolled into one track. Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon,” an Italian piece titled “Terzo Incontro” from Il Balletto Di Bronzo, and Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (The EXORCIST theme, for those of you who don’t know).



All in all, WALTZING MEPHISTO turns out to be quite an interesting album. Hortus Animae show that they are full of ideas, but they have yet to fully develop their songwriting skills into a more coherent and focused delivery. I urge fans of atmospheric or gothic extreme metal to check out this young Italian band, and I look forward to hearing what the future has in store for them.
Track Listing

1. .
2. Enter
3. A Lifetime Obscurity Part I
4. A Lifetime Obscurity Part II
5. Springtime Deaths – sabbathy licks, crazy circus-y music with blastbeats
6. Souls Of The Cold Wind – totally gothed
7. Welcome The Godless
8. Freezing Moon Including Terzo Incontro And Tubular Bells – great cover
9. A Feeble Light Of Hope

Lineup

Martyr Lucifer - vocals, bass
Shred Blast Hypnos - guitars
Bless - keyboards
GroM - drums
Amon 418 - guitars

Other reviews

» Waltzing Mephisto
by Night of the Realm

» Waltzing Mephisto
by JP

» Funeral Nation MMXII
by JP


Next review: » Hortus Animae - Waltzing Mephisto
Previous review: » Hortus Animae - Funeral Nation MMXII

Hortus Animae
Waltzing Mephisto
October 2003
Released: 2003, Black Lotus
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

The good people at Black Lotus have sent us a number of new releases and I am going to do a little focus on four releases on this veteran Greek label. Enjoy the reviews (Bullethole, Enshadowed, Hortus Animae, Naer Mataron) and don’t forget to check out our Black Lotus contest in our contest section. The answers to the trivia contest are found in these reviews so read all of them carefully and enter for your chance to win a CD from Black Lotus!



Well look who we have here! An Italian gothic death/black metal band with none other than ol’ Grom (Ancient, Doomsword, Pyschorder) on the drums! This is the bands second release the first being an indie album called THE MELTING IDOLS. The Italian tendency to mix many classical styles and sounds into music is very relevant here, the band even refer to themselves as ‘The Satanic Orchestra’.

Musically this four piece playa challenging and complex brand of blackened, death metal with gothic overtones…progressive death? It is very cool nonetheless with many, many different sounds and instruments that you might not normally here on this kind of disc. They are more complex and diverse than Cradle of Filth who seem to be an obvious influence. Lots of keyboards!



Grom keeps the drums blazing along at a fast pace when necessary and the vocals of Martyr Lucifer switch between a rasp, a whisper and the traditional black metal shrieks.

The guitars are there but at times seem to take a back seat to the keyboards in many songs. An interesting point is a cover tune, not one but three kinda of mixed together an odd medley of a classic piece, ‘Tubular Bells’ and Mayhem’s Freezing Moon! It is a very neat idea as not too many bands do cover medleys and make them sound completely different, almost like Savatage in parts with the acoustic piano and guitar interplay.



The packaging is nice, lots of photos, lyrics about the usual dark and devil-inspired topics, photos of the band in masks or face-paint or top hats, white shirts and the occasional naked chick as well. Good production, nice mix decent sound but I would still like to hear a touch more guitar in places. It would be a shame to see this neat band who are trying to do something a little different go unnoticed.
Track Listing

1. Enter
2. A Lifetime Obscurity
3. Springtime Deaths
4. Souls of Cold Wind
5. Welcome the Godless
6. Freezing Moon including Terzo Incontro and Tubular Bells
A Feeble Light Of Hope

Lineup

Martyr Lucifer-Vocals, bass
Shred Blast Hypnos-Guitar
Bless-Keyboards
Grom-Drums

Contact

N/A

Other reviews

» Waltzing Mephisto
by Night of the Realm

» Waltzing Mephisto
by JP

» Funeral Nation MMXII
by JP


Next review: » Hot Buttered Anal - Lies
Previous review: » Hortus Animae - Funeral Nation MMXII





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