Hortus Animae was a progressive black metal band from Northern and Central Italy. They formed in 1997 in the town of Rimini (Romagna). After the release of their self produced debut The Melting Idols, they began an active live streak with bands like Lacuna Coil, Ancient (band) and Napalm Death. Upon opening for the cult Norwegian black metal band Ancient in Padova (Italy), the band developed a friendship with Ancient drummer 'Grom', who soon after joined the band out of admiration for their work and made it his primary side-project. At this point the band began the recording process of their 2nd album and 1st official release 'Waltzing Mephisto' which had been years in the writing. The album was recorded at the well known Italian metal studios 'Fear'. Following the recording, the band signed deal with Greek label Black Lotus Records in October 2002 and subsequently with Sleaszy Rider Records (EMI) for their 3rd and most evolved concept-album 'The Blow Of Furious Winds' in May 2005.
Immediately following their now almost unfindable 1998 demo cassette 'An Abode For Spirit And Flesh', they quickly developed a wide and strong following in the underground and gained vast attention from the specialized press with almost no reviews hitting lower than the 'excellence' mark.
The band has since achieved a cult status within the extreme metal underground, partly due to their secretive live appearances and mainly due to their unique and eclectic blend of styles & cover songs. Their music drew from 70s progressive rock, gothic, classical and ambient... All blended with their original form of death/black metal. They incorporated instruments such as piano, viola, violin, mandolin, synth and very diverse vocal styles into their music. This was rare and uncommon during those years. Drummer GROM's following with his other notable acts (Doomsword, Ancient...) is most likely another reason.
Hortus Animae is well known within the genre for their unique and eclectic cover songs. The official debut 'Waltzing Mephisto' contained a cover of the black metal anthem 'Freezing Moon' (Mayhem) blended with Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells (The Exorcist)' and Italian 70's prog band Il Balletto Di Bronzo's 'Terzo Incontro', highlighting the band's inspiration with 70's dark progressive rock music. This song is still considered to this day as one of the most appreciated covers in the extreme metal underground. Their following epic album 'The Blow Of Furious Winds' contained yet another 70's prog rock cover. A diverse and original mold of Queen's 'The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke' & 'Nevermore'.
In between the 2 albums, the band appeared with another 'now cult' cover song on the Black Lotus Records' release 'The Lotus Eaters: Tribute to Dead Can Dance'. Hortus Animae recorded their metalized epic interpretation of 'Windfall' & 'Summoning Of The Muse' featuring a joint effort with gothic singer Liv Kristine (Theatre Of Tragedy, Leave's Eyes, Atrocity) on lead vocals.
Hortus Animae have been proclaimed 'best emerging band' and 'best Italian album of the year' in the polls of the top Italian magazine Metal Maniac in 2005.
The group disbanded on January 18, 2006. They posted this message on their homepage of their website:
"Due to different motivations the band decided to split-up or, at least, to stay on-hold for some time.There are technical and personal reasons involved (the music business, hardships... life itself) which led us to take this decision. We faced many difficulties in the music industry, but we wish to thank and hail all the fans and people who bought our albums, visited our websites, came to our shows, wrote to us, believed in what we did or just listened to our music. We also want to thank the worldwide metal press for their support. We may return in the future, but for now we just don't know."
Years after their split they released a 10th anniversary commemorative boxset (sold out) called 'Funeral Nation: 10 years of Hortus Animae' through Sleaszy Rider Records (EMI distribution). The boxset contained various gadgets (t-shirt, mug, pin, etc.) as well as their 1st 2 official albums 'Waltzing Mephisto' (in an unreleased demo version) & 'The Blow Of Furious Winds' and a 'Making of...' DVD.
After 4 years of the box set release and sell-out, increasing requests and popularity in the underground demanded a further re-release of the band's historical discography. HORTUS ANIMAE teamed up with Thrash Corner Records (USA and Unexploded Records (SWE) to release their definitive collection in 2012, aptly called 'Funeral Nation MMXII' their definitive collection. Released worldwide in a double and triple CD edition with new artwork, this collection featured the very first self-produced album 'The Melting Idols', which had not been included in the previous box set.
The band has also launched a new Myspace page for the occasion : http://www.myspace.com/hortusanimae