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Released: 2014, Flicknife
A couple of years back I reviewed the Hortus Animae career-retrospective FUNERAL NATION MMXII and in that review I stated that I hoped that the compilation was not the final thing the band released. Well, thankfully it wasn’t! In march of 2014 the band issued their fourth full-length studio album SECULAR MUSIC.
Over 100 moons have lapsed (8.5 years) since the last album THE BLOW OF FURIOUS WINDS but mainman Martyr Lucifer did do a couple of solo albums/projects in between so it is not like he (they) were totally dormant. He must have felt the call of the black to revive Hortus Animae again because they have returned from beyond the grave. Surprisingly the line-up remains unchanged.
SECULAR MUSIC is a very clever title because one only needs to look at the title of the first song, ‘God And His Disgusting Children’ to realize this Black Metal band has no love for organized religion. However Hortus Animae is above the simplistic ‘Kill God’ lyrics of a band like Deicide for example, their lyrical approach is a little more subtle, but it certainly is ‘secular. The band is now on a little label from England called Flicknife mostly associated with bands like Hawkwind but perhaps there is a common love for Prof between the label and the band as Hortus Animae end the album with a cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’.
Aside from that, the hour-long album is pretty progressive Black Metal. Many of the elements that first attracted me to the band are firmly in place, acoustic piano interludes and progressive segments inter-spliced with classic Norweigan style Black Metal. In my mind I’ve always drawn parallels between other high quality bands in this style, such as Moonspell, Samael and older Therion. I especially hear the Moonspell connection on the baritone spoken word interlude of the third song, ‘At The End Of Doomsday’. It is a fantastic song, with choirs and gentle segments and I don’t mean to imply at all that Hortus Animae sounds just like Moonspell, but that is an example of the diversity of styles you will hear on the album. The songs are certainly progressive, most of them running over seven minutes given the listener lots of time to sucked into the swirling maelstrom of each song. Vocalist Martyr delivers a multiple of style shrieks, hiss, death growls and spoken word segments making for a very dynamic vocal sound.
Every song is well-written, interesting and loaded with haunting atmosphere and bursting aggression. If you like dark, gothic, progressive Black Metal then you should check out SECULAR MUSIC.
1. God and His Disgusting Children
2. Blood of the Earth / The Truth Against the World
3. Dystopian Apocalypse
4. At the End of Doomsday
5. The Poison of the Naga
6. Impromptu Op. II / Pain Relieved
7. Chamber of Endless Nightmares
Martyr Lucifer Vocals
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