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   HORTUS ANIMAE
Waltzing Mephisto
2003
Black Lotus Records
http://www.hortusanimae.com/


rating: 4,5/5

1.
2. Enter
3. A Lifetime Obscurity
4. A Lifetime Obscurity
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
Fans of melodic black metal might be already familiar with Hortus Animae while the major public might hear about them just now. There is a big chance the Ancient fans had known them as well, because Diego Grom Meraviglia is behind the drumkits in Hortus Animae (he met the band on a gig where both bands played). First he was asked for guest appearence with the band but soon he became a full-time member. With the completed line-up the band made a promo version of "Waltzing Mephisto" and started to look for a record label. Finally, in October 2002 they signed to Black Lotus Records who released their second effort, "Waltzing Mephisto" this April.

Above I referred to Hortus Animae playing melodic black metal but their music is too diverse to fit into one category. The base, melodic black metal is mixed with gothic and doom influences but you can also recognize classical touches and from time to time you can feel the fresh energy that is thrash metal's very own . You can also feel some comparison with the path Opeth and Novembre follow. While I am listening to the album different bands' names pop up in my mind but in the end I can't compare them to anybody. Feels like they took the essence and all the best out from the above mentioned styles and made it something special. Misty, gloomy atmosphere floats around their music, wrapping the album. Beside the regular instrument line-up (guitars, drums, keyboards) they used violin, chello and flute.

After a nameless, strange intro (that could be placed onto an industrial black metal album) "Waltzing Mephisto" kicks off with "Enter". It starts as a typical melodic black metal song but soon they change to more melancholy. The third and the fourth song got the same title because the third one is in fact the intro to the fourth. Acoustic guitar and whispered words are leading us into "A Lifetime Obscurity", a 13 minutes long masterpiece. Its varied built-up, the different moods it is drifting through, its strange moments (sound of a hurdy-gurdy?) shows the best of the band's multifaced music. Like "Souls Of The Cold Winds" that we would first think is a heavy metal song but it's gearing up to almost death metal speed before it starts its final slow down. The bells in its last three minutes make the feel of mourning almost touchable. But if you prefer the so called typical melodic black songs, here you have got "Springtime Deaths" too.

They can also go for the "strangest covers" award because they put Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" together with Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells", including "Terzo Incontro" that was originally written by Il Balleto Di Bronzo, an Italian progressive band from the 70s.

Quality black metal as Mikael Akerfeldt had said and even though I still don't agree on calling it only black metal, it is surely quality music. Beautiful music and poems like lyrics from the finest.

submitted by Katalin 30.11.2003

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