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Review: Hortus Animae - Waltzing Mephisto 20th Anniversary
Hortus Animae
Waltzing Mephisto 20th Anniversary

Label: Symbol of Domination
Year released: 2023
Originally released in: 2003
Duration: 2:18:28
Tracks: 23
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: December 8, 2023
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
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Rated 3/5 (60%) (1 Vote)

I remember this band from back in the day, part of that early-aughts surge in Italian Black Metal that included bands like Sigma Draconis and Mortuary Drape. This is actually a rather lavish re-release of their second album on Symbol of Domination Productions—a sub-label of Satanath Records. I had heard good things about this album, but never actually heard it before. It's been described as Black Metal with gothic elements, and that's pretty spot on. This reminds me a bit of more keyboardy Black Metal like Tartaros with a kick of more dramatic elements like Opera IX used to use when they were still a full-on Gothic band, back in the Sacro Culto days. Overall, I find this entertaining but pretty disjointed. It's remastered, but the songwriting is just from a more primitive era in this kind of proto-symphonic Black Metal, and it sounds pretty dated.

The second disc is a live recording, and features a number of questionable cover songs, like a Cradle of Filth song as the opener, and a version of "Aqualung" with harsh vocals that sounds completely ridiculous. On the best live albums, you can hear the alchemy of a band coming together to make something more than the sum of the parts, but that does not really happen here. Overall, this album is a curiosity, and this is a classy reissue, but it's not essential.

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