Nine years after an exceptional album such as The Blow of Furious Winds, Hortus Animae are back to redefine the hierarchies of our metal scene. How many times have you read and listened to bands or musicians presenting their latest work stating that it would be both the most violent and the most melodic? I guess you’ve lost count, as well as the occasions in which such statements of intent have been disregarded. Well, this time, although without the band from Romagna has become the protagonist of any particular proclamation, this operation succeeds perfectly, although at certain junctures the combination of prog sounds of the seventies and black death blows may appear difficult to implement. Secular Music is an album that should be listened to many times before making a breach in our numb ears, but when this happens the pleasure of discovery is equal to the amazement that you feel in savoring the fruit of the test these musicians, able to walk on a thin wire while maintaining a perfect balance between the many components of their sound. Martyr Lucifer, as always, ranges with ease between growl, scream and a clean voice quite recognizable for its deep tone, Hypnos and Bless do a magnificent job respectively on guitar and keyboards, while Grom has no problem to support the continuous changes of rhythm and atmosphere to which his companions force him. Hortus Animae do not set themselves creative limits of any kind and, with the skills that distinguish only the champions, they can never lose the thread of the speech, making a varied and fascinating dish that, played and composed by pretentious band, could have turned out to be an indigestible soup. Let’s start from the end, or almost, to explain what is the attitude of Hortus Animae, with Chamber Of Endless Nightmares that starts with a liquid guitar solo and then takes on a dark Moonspell-like trend, turning in a flash into a modern melodic death rant. An example of versatility and ability to flow with fluidity from one genre to another that is the trademark of the entire album, starting from the opener God And His Disgusting Children that annihilates plethora of metalcore professionals with its swing between trashy outbursts and melodic parts that remain well impressed in the memory; most of the bands could have also exhausted here their task by repeating two or three times the sequence, not Hortus Animae that, in the central part, place a frightening gothic black acceleration, able to put to shame the vintage Cradle Of Filth, diluted with surprising naturalness by a beautiful guitar break. And again, listening to the first furious minutes of the next Blood Of The Earth / The Truth Against The World, no one could imagine that in its second half the prog soul of the band could completely take over, with Hypnos giving a solo of rare intensity. Hearing these two songs already you could be satisfied, but there is still a lot of great music in the quivers of Hortus Animae and, without wanting to dwell further, I would report the darker At The End Of Doomsday, which takes up at least partially the moods of Martyr Lucifer soloist of The Horseride, and the icing on the cake of a perfect album that is the cover of a cult song such as Aqualung by Jethro Tull: despite the version is definitely accelerated and dirtied in good part by an abrasive scream, the song is absolutely not distorted in its essence and, in this regard, it should be noted that the original riff is certainly one of the hardest churned out in that musical era. In short, expectations repaid in full for an album that gives us back in the full potential of a group to which the status of “cult band” is far too tight, and patience if only four full lengths in over fifteen years and almost a decade of silence are emblematic of a productivity not exactly by stakanovists; when the quality of the outputs is of such thickness, the feeling that time has not passed in vain greatly exceeds any other type of consideration.

2014 – Flicknife Records