Hortus Animae

Picture of Hortus Animae

Waltzing Mephisto

Hortus Animae - Waltzing Mephisto ©2003 Black Lotus Records
1. (untitled)
2. Enter
3. A Lifetime Obscurity Pt. 1
4. A Lifetime Obscurity Pt. 2
5. Springtime Deaths
6. Souls Of The Cold Wind
7. Welcome The Godless
8. Freezing Moon Including Terzo Incontro And Tubular Bells
9. A Feeble Light Of Hope

Hortus Animae is an Italian gray metal band whose claim to fame to date is somehow lassoing Ancient drummer Grom into becoming a fulltime member, which of course relegates Hortus Animae to the mere "side project" status of their most famous member. However, when you logically work things through and realize he's only from Ancient and not an actual impressive band, then you come to the conclusion that this little tidbit of information is rather trivial in the scheme of things. To date Hortus Animae has released a demo and one independent CD. Waltzing Mephisto is their first for Black Lotus Records and is actually interesting enough to warrant some attention.

To a large degree, Hortus Animae treads little new ground, but does cover a lot of it with their ambitious style. As one glance at the band photo suggests, the band has plenty of frilly edges, including long keyboard and piano movements as well as tinges of black metal influences. For the concerned, you won't hear much Ancient on this album and believe me, that's a selling point. The playing is quite fluid and not quite as showy and overly demonstrative as one might fear. The "progressive" aspect of this CD is mostly that the band writes rather long songs that meander quite a bit. Influence is derived both from classic metal and the more flowery goth flavored modern European stuff. The band shows some peculiar ideas when they create a medley of Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" tacked on with "Terzo Incontro" and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". If nothing else, that should raise at least one eyebrow out there.

For the most part, Hortus Animae doesn't stand out too far from the crowd, despite their intentions. However, their widely influenced gray metal sound is done with skill and I've found myself overall enjoying this album. It certainly beats listening to yet another Theatre of Tragedy clone. Fans of the madly orchestrated and ambitious offshoot of black metal probably could do worse than Waltzing Mephisto.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2003

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