Monday, August 1, 2011

Botanist - "I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose From The Dead" (2011) [tUMULt Records]

Every once in a while I get sent an album that completely blows my mind, and not in the "Wow, this is the best thing ever!" sort of way, rather a "Wait, how'd they do that...what...what? How? Why?" and leaves me a bumbling, drooling, stupid mess. An album so strange, so mind-bogglingly experimental that I am left entirely unsure if I even enjoyed what I listened to. Was that part cool, or just something so different and new that my mind just processed it as cool before entirely understanding it? It is hard to tell, so I have to listen to albums like these over and over and over again until I can fully appreciate (or dislike) the music for what it really is aside from its novel face value.

From sunny California, home to oodles of bands of which I have named in past reviews, plant-themed "black metal" Botanist "welcome[s you] to the verdant realm" with one of the oddest releases I've gotten my hands on as a music reviewer. Eschewing the normal guitar-based route on which the "metal" style of music has stagnated since its inception, this solo project of the reclusive "The Botanist" features extensive use of a concert-sized hammered dulcimer in conjunction with his strange, croaking voice and all-too-precise drums. To put it lightly, with the hammered dulcimer in place of the guitars, Botanist achieves a unique, strange, memorable, "natural" atmosphere that, as strange as it is, almost makes sense. Seeing as this forty-some-odd song double album follows most normal black metal conventions as far as melody, song structure and overall atmosphere, the dulcimer, with its bell-like ringing, acts more as a new medium through which one can express the sentiments found in black metal. Sonically it's a very unique take on the genre, but melodically it has a lot in common with other more conservative bands found in the West Coast scene like Leviathan or Pale Chalice. Of course, since I am a fan of both of those projects, you won't hear any nay-saying from me, and with punny song titles like "Rhododendoom," the comedian inside of me can finally enjoy black metal without having to make fun of it.

Botanist's timbre-unique take on black metal, dubbed "plant metal," takes a strong stance against the normally guitar-oriented genre. Yeah, it sounds strange at first but if I've learned anything from the countless times I've listened to both discs of this album is that it's a grower for sure. These alien, almost emotionally vacant recordings present a new twist on a still-burgeoning "scene" in the West Coast. Be sure to order both discs from tUMULt's official distributors at aQuarius Records ASAP.



  1. This sounds so interesting, I will definitely be getting my hands on a copy of it ASAP.
    By your review, I get the impression that this is novel and unique, but in a contrived and sucky way. Not in a "trying hard to sound different" way. Definitely looking forward to listening to this. Plus, I am obsessed with plants! Perfect. :)
    Thank you Jon.

  2. *but NOT in a contrived or sucky way.


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