HORTUS ANIMAE (for Atmosfear #24)


Atmosfear #24  


Allow me to greet HORTUS ANIMAE on the ATMOSFEAR pages. What is the band doing now? Your last album was released five years ago, and the audience is already really waiting for a new full-length album.
Martyr Lucifer: Hello Atmosfear! Nice to be on your pages! This is Martyr Lucifer, vocalist of Hortus Animae. Yes, you’re right, we’ve had a few minor releases in the meantime but it’s definitely time to give birth to the follow up to Secular Music and, in fact, we are writing new material as we speak. This is a reason for we’ve stopped doing gigs for at least 6 months, we are totally focused in this.

Since you are with us for the first time, let's remember with you how it all began. When the group was formed, where did the name come from, what kind of music did you want to play?
ML: It all began in 1997, I was singing in a thrash death band called Dogma, Hortus Animae’s former drummer Thomas got in touch with me as he and former keyboardist Lorenzo were putting up a new project aimed to explore the music we liked, so we started to create our own mix of extreme metal, prog and goth. Later on, with the entrance of Hypnos, Bless and, further later, MG Desmadre and Adamant, we have continued to explore, adding more new elements. Through the years I’ve crossed the definition, gave by some press, of Hortus-metal, that’s been flattering.
The name Hortus Animae means “the Garden of the Soul”, in Latin. First of all, it is very representative for us as it’s in a language which is the root of our current language. Then, for us, the Garden of the Soul is the place where all souls dwell and, with them, all the feelings ever belonged to mankind. This factor is, of course, well represented in our music and lyrics too, as we’ve always tried to be deep explorers of human feelings through all the facets of our songs.

From 2008 to 2013, the group was frozen or did not exist at all? What is the reason for stopping the activity?
ML: We’ve just been overwhelmed by life matters. Simply, from one day to the next we stopped seeing each other, each one because of their personal commitments, and we found ourselves again only years later, with a great desire to continue making music together. The flame has also been kept alive by the constant feedback we kept receiving from fans and press during those years, asking for our reunion and reissues of our old material. This is how Secular Music was born, definitely our most brutal album, offspring of the impelling urge to express ourselves again as Hortus Animae, too.
In the meantime, I’ve been also involved in the Opposite Sides (cyber death metal) and Space Mirrors (space rock) music projects.

Let's talk about your live album Piove Sangue - Live in Banská Bystrica. Five labels are responsible for the release of this album on CDs. There is also a cassette and vinyl versions of this album. How did you manage to persuade everyone to release not the most popular format (concert album)?
ML: We really are warmly grateful to BlackHeavens, Aesthetic Death, Azermedoth, Metal Scrap Records and MASD Records for making such dream come true but, actually, the labels are six, if we also consider NGC who co-produced the tape version (great gratitude to them too). Well, I don’t know how we’ve convinced them, probably it seemed to them the same special as it seemed to us. And in fact, it is really special: our first official live album and commemorative of our 20th anniversary, our first release on LP and MC as well. Last, but definitely not least, Freddy of the almighty German Thrash legends Necronomicon who came on stage with us for a fiery version of Slayer’s Raining Blood, unique.

And tell a little about the concert itself. I understand that you decided in advance to make a live album out of this performance? Why didn’t you want to release a DVD?
ML: Yes, I’ve contacted Anatoliy, director of Total Metal Concerts & Booking, to ask him if we could have the chance to record one of the gigs and the response has been positive, we would have been recording the very last date, in Slovakia, that was thrilling! I must admit we haven’t thought about releasing it on DVD too, but I guess it’s kind of more difficult to manage. Now you gave me this idea, we’ll try to organize it in the future!

Speaking of formats. Now, cassettes and vinyls (to a greater extent) are undergoing another revival. Which format of physical media is personally preferable for you?
ML: I am absolutely fond of the vinyl format, since I was a very young kid. Yet, I usually buy albums on CD, as they are more comfortable to use, as a matter of fact. But I still buy vinyls, of course, also tapes, every now and then. I hope we'll be able to manage future Hortus Animae releases in those formats too.

HORTUS ANIMAE's discography currently has four albums. Please give a brief description of each album.
ML: Ok, sure! Our first album, The Melting Idols, has been self-released in the year 2000, officially issued only years later on the Funeral Nation MMXII compilation album. Despite our inexperience it boasts bold elements of progressive music, a few stirrings of goth were there, to be later and better developed. Line-up was Martyr Lucifer (vocals, bass), Thomas (drums), Hypnos (guitars) and Bless (keyboards, backing vocals).
2003 – Waltzing Mephisto: Grom, former member of the Norwegian legend Ancient, stepped in on drums, replacing Thomas, the rest of the line-up remained unvaried. This album showed off much more black metal and goth elements, still maintaining our prog approach to music. It contains a really brave cover medley that mixes Mayhem’s cold classic Freezing Moon with Il Balletto di Bronzo’s Terzo Incontro (an Italian prog little gem) and Mike Oldfield’s timeless masterpiece Tubular Bells.

  HORTUS ANIMAE for Atmosfear24

2005 – The Blow of Furious Winds: Amon 418 from the cult death metal band Baratro joined, live guitar and synth support on the album. The Blow definitely remains our most ambitious album to date, it’s our most complete work, it contains very different songs, and from what I seemed to understand from the press, it seems to be our most valued album. Remarkable contributions of Moonbeam of Iblis, with his beautiful violin parts, and the wonderful Liv Kristine in our Dead Can Dance cover medley.

2014 – Secular Music: our come-back album after 8 years of hiatus, the line-up was the same as in Waltzing Mephisto. As mentioned before, it is our most violent album, although, in any case, it contains a lot of melody, which remains, however, a factor that always characterizes our music. Let's say that Secular Music is an opus that remains mainly influenced by death metal and prog.

Does the band have a contract with any label at the moment?
ML: We are settled on BlackHeavens Music at the moment, but I don't deny a possible cooperation with other record labels in the future, it depends on the proposals we get.

I heard Martyr Lucifer's debut album, but I don’t know if there were any other albums. In what condition is the project now?
ML: The Martyr Lucifer project is in stall, I am thinking now of expressing myself with a new musical project, more oriented to electronic music. Martyr Lucifer's discography consists of three albums (Farewell to Graveland, Shards and Gazing at the Flocks) and a maxi-single (Leda and the Swan).

According to tradition, at the end you can say whatever you want.
ML: Thank you so much for this interview, stay tuned as very interesting new stuff is in the works and, who knows, maybe we can meet up on the road soon. Cheers!


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