01. Furious Winds / Locusts:
This is the most aggressive song of the album and probably one of the hardest ones to record even if it doesn't sound like it ! We knew that this album was going to be far more evolved than the previous one but we still didn't want to cut ties with the more extreme side of the band that has been there since the very beginning. In a way, this track doesn't do the album justice because if someone was to listen to the first song only, he would totally misinterpret 'The Blow Of Furious Winds'. However this song was short, it had impact and was catchy enough to be placed as the opener, we didn't want to start the album with the softer tracks. This album is a concept about human emotions and feelings, studied and observed with a clinical eye from an 1800's secret society, like free masons. The artwork of the album is full of mysterious messages and signs and this song was the first and most degraded human feeling, in my opinion, which is the attitude of the 'masses'. No one thinks for themselves anymore, everyone 'follows' or 'copies' some trend or someone else's opinion. I have suffered this a lot in my life, where because of 'trend', wrong 'word of mouth' or circumstance, bands I have been part of have received negative comments from people that once they heard the music and saw the band live they totally changed their mind. I'm not talking about Hortus Animae in particular, but a general concept. People are like locusts, like sheep…they eat whatever they are being fed by the big record companies and the mass media without having a culture of their own and making up their own mind on what is good and what is bad. This is what this song is about.
02. The Mud And The Blood / Funeral Nation:
Grom : This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It's a great suite that mixes melody and aggressiveness with a very prog attitude. Instrumentally speaking it is one of the best tracks on the album and has a great 'pull' effect. It was actually one of the 'old' tracks in this album which the band has written in the past but never recorded. 'The Mud and The Blood' was actually supposed to appear on our debut album 'Waltzing Mephisto' but ended up not making it on there. So, we re-arranged and re-structured the song properly and placed it as number 2 on this new record. Any drummer will really enjoy this track. It is mainly about the 'conflict' aspect of human beings, where they can never rest at peace and leave be.
03. The Heartfelt Murder:
Ah…the best song on the album. This one is probably the most particular and progressive track we have. It has a great 'noir' feeling to it, a very city-style dark atmosphere, modern and gothic at the same time. It is probably the 'single' of the album which we will shoot a video for soon. Instrumentally it is greatly played and one of the most intricate and deeply arranged song on the album. A big part is played by the violin player we hired for the recordings and a lot of the track is based around the progressive 70's atmosphere which we have become so recognized for using. The piano but especially the Hammond organ in the end is very 70's and recalls songs from Dario Argento movies or the more dark bands of the 1970's. Definitely the best track in my opinion and everything evolves around the atmosphere and the contrast between anger and melancholy. It is about passionate homicides, where humans go cross the line between love and hate, a very thin line, which pushes them to extreme gestures they would never have felt capable of.
04. The Virgin Whore:
The 'dark' hit of this record. It was originally born because we wanted to include a song that represented the 'dark rock' world. Very influenced by Sisters of Mercy and similar bands, it has a typical dark-disco feel with a melodic and catchy chorus. I think this song can easily be played in metal-discos. I am not too pleased with the drum sound on this song actually, I feel it should have been way harder and more 'rock', more reverb….but nevertheless this is a song that seams to please our girl fans a lot. It is mainly about the female attitude to be provocative and tempting without having the courage and coherence to go through with things in the end. It's a bit of a 'teenage sexual' syndrome song.
05. In Adoration Of The Weeping Skies:
This is the second 'old' song which was re-polished and re-arranged for this album. The piano plays a great part in this track and the song is based around the contrast between aggressiveness and sweetness. It is a song about the forces of nature on man and how the earth can influence our being. A thing I greatly enjoy about it is the 'jazzy' part in the middle, which is very typical of Hortus Animae and throws the 'prog' character in there again. The growls in the central part with the blast beat, are mine. It is almost like a chronicle of the changing weather, where at the beginning it is calm and peaceful and then the storm strikes strong and the feelings of the 'observer' change completely, going from tranquility to turbulence and unrest.
06. Across The Sea Of Pain:
The third and last 'old' song. Yeah….we write a lot of stuff ! haha…these were all songs that were left 'out' of our debut album because we felt they didn't fit exactly with the atmosphere of the album, so we re-arranged them and recorded them for this record where they fit perfectly. This song is the classic extreme metal mid-tempo, very Iron Maiden influenced, from the atmosphere point of view and it is strongly tied in with the band's origins. The piano part in the middle where you can hear the ocean before it explodes is a classic metal piece ! Probably, this song is the most 'metal' song on the album and it has a great piano harmonization in the middle part. It is about the 'attitude' of the people from our land and the feelings towards memories. It talks about a man that sails the seas around the world and returns to his homeland but grows nostalgic of his days on the ships. The band is from a seaside city, Rimini, where fisherman and sailors are the most common people and as Italians we have a strong connection to the ocean and the history of our civilization. This song is sort of a tribute to all the people at sea.
07. Bible Black:
'Bible black' is the religious song but don't misinterpret it. It is no way an anti-Christian song and it is in now ay a Satanist song at all…it is mainly an evaluation of the human 'need' to believe I something, no matter how evident or non-evident it is. The free masons wrote a lot about theology and this is what this track is about. It is fundamentally a tecno-thrash song, very intricate with a lot of odd tempos revolving around constant time changes and very technical parts. It was a very hard song to record and it turned out great because what we wanted exactly was to re-create the sort of anguish and insecurity that religion often gives to people. You never know what top believe, what is right, what is wrong…it's all messed up and very fuzzy, very difficult to focus. We therefore wanted the 'chaos' feeling to be very present in the music and it turned out great ! This song is really restless…it skips and jumps like crazy with a very chaotic and disorderly atmosphere, very progressive. I think 'Cynic' and 'Atheist' played a great influence in this song and what we wanted was to re-create the sense of confusion in a human's head when he thinks about religion and theology. Definitely not a 'hit single' track, but definitely an effective one.
08. A Gothic Ghost / The Death Of All Beauty:
The ballad…sweet, melancholic, sad and heart-broken. Hortus Animae have always put a lot of thought into ballads because I feel they are amongst the most evocative songs. If you look at music history, the biggest songs are almost always ballads. This one for us is very important. Lyrically, it talks about love, a very strong human emotion and very harmful as well. It dwells into the experience of a person who looses a loved one and cannot understand why. The main melodic line, built around the piano, is very catchy and memorable. The violin creates a very effective emotional build and it ahs complete clean vocals. We put a lot of care into the arrangements for this track and I am very pleased at my drum performance for this one, where I just 'laid it down' with no games. 'Emotion' is the focal point of this song and it has so far, been the magazine's and webzine's favourite track. The spoken part in the end is taken from one of my favourite movies, 'Memento'.
09. Garden Of Fairies:
This song ties in directly with the previous ballad 'A gothic ghost…'. It is connected by a sort of 'radio played' piano part that you can hear in the distance, like a radio turned on in another room…these two songs in my opinion, have to be listened to in sequence and in a silent room, with a dim light. They are very emotionally strong songs and very thoughtful, very meditative. It is a song that revolves around and initial 'The Cure' atmosphere, very 80's oriented and built around the typical dark-rock format. The snare-drum 'ghost notes' in the beginning make me very proud and there are a lot of instrumental details in this track to listen to. It starts off melodic and dark-rock oriented and then explodes into a very Opeth style, extreme-prog-metal track, with and aggressive black metal middle part. We used a lot of arrangements, harmonization, odd tempos and progressive touches in this song, very well played. It has a two-faced character. Half of it is a hit-single style song and the other half is an extreme un-commercial track. It is about the aspect of human emotions tied to 'dreaming', awake and asleep. A sort of disconnection with reality.
10. The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke / Nevermore:
This is the first bonus track. It is a cover of QUEEN, taken from the 'Queen 2' album. Everyone who follows Hortus Aniame knows that cover songs are a great part of this band. We were well known with our debut album thanks to the medley cover we did of Mayhem's 'Freezing Moon' mixed with 'Tubular Bells' (the exorcist…) and an Italian prog-rock band from the 1970's. This decade is a very important musical period and I think that too many people are forgetting it too much. Young kids totally ignore this musical style and period and listen only to 'big sounding' over produced, pro-tools style productions which are being fed to them by the major labels. I think that a big shift in musical history came out of this period and we are strongly influenced by Queen, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and mainly all the great Italian dark-progressive rock movement of the 70's, with bands like Balletto Di Bronzo, Le Orme, New Trolls and Goblin. This is our tribute to that period and we are totally satisfied with the result. The vocal part at the end, with the choirs etc…was all done by our keyboard player, Bless, who did a truly great job ! One thing I really enjoy in this song is the production, which we tried to put a lot of attention into. If you notice, the final part with the piano and the clean vocals has no reverb at all. The voice is flat and it seams like he is singing in the room with you…this was typical of the 1970's when reverbs weren't available and the studio technology wasn't the same as today of course. If you listen to most records of the 70's you will hear that the vocals have no reverb or chorus, they are dry. This evaluates the musician a lot because it is much easier to cover up 'mistakes' if you have a lot of reverb and echo on the voice, but when it's flat, you have to sing perfect or else it sounds shit. We made an effort to do this and Bless did a great job, what you hear, is exactly what went into the microphone.
11. Windfall introducing Summoning Of The Muse:
This is the second bonus track and many people will probably already know this song. It was initially recorded for Black Lotus Records' tribute album to Dead Can Dance, another big influence of ours. We mixed and re-arranged two tracks, 'Windfall' and 'Summoning Of The muse', one of the most memorable and touching songs that Dead Can Dance ever wrote in my opinion. The bells are simply haunting and magic. We used 'Windfall' as an intro because it fitted our extreme character more and we knew that we could turn it into an aggressive metal track, which represents the heavier side of Hortus Animae, leading into the more melodic, atmospheric and emotional side of the band represented by 'Summoning of the muse'. The most rewarding thing in this track are the vocals, that were laid down by Liv Kristine herself which we cooperated with in this song. She was enthusiastic of doing the job and we knew that she was truly the only female singer that could fit the song. Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance is an amazingly talented and technical singer, whoc comes from the 'classic' world of vocalists. A normal 'pop' or metal female singer would never be able to do what needs to be done on this track. You need a singer who ahs studied and received classical education. There a re loads of harmonizations in the vocals, 9th and 7th scale harominzations and the lyrics are all sung in 'phonetics', which is a technical style that uses the syllables, consonants and vowels, to create a fictional lyric. There are no words in this song…it is all fictional, as if it was a foreign language, a mysterious ancient, magical language. This is a technique used a lot in theatres and only if you are a truly technical and educated singer, who ahs studied these techniques (like Liv…), will you be able to do the job. As an example (with all due respect !) singers like Cristina of Lacuna Coil or Anneke of The Gatehring, would never have been able to do this. Liv was the only one and we were lucky she was a great person and really wanted to do the track with us. It still gives me goose bumps when I listen to it today…raise the volume on your stereo and just…listen to it!!
Take care !
Grom - www.gromdrums.com