Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Botanist - "III: Doom In Bloom/Allies" (2012) [TotalRust Records]

Of all the words in the English language, perhaps the most fitting in the case of avant-garde black metal entity Botanist is...challenging. If you recall the extremely polarized backlash to lone musician The Botanist's dulcimer 'n drums approach to what is held sacred in the hearts of the internet's angriest, last year's double album I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose From The Dead was one of the many "love it or hate it" albums which seems to plague recent black metal. While a good number of people, myself included, enjoyed Botanist's detached, almost inhuman approach, production, and overall performance, many commented on the awkwardness which comes with strange, croaked vocals, popcorn percussion, and, of course, the ever-present dulcimer as a replacement of the guitar. It's odd, really, to see such polarization over a simple change in instrumentation, especially when the approach and aesthetic were pretty much what you would expect from your average "oddball" black metal band, but, then again, what else would you expect from the legion of the blog?

For those of you who liked the idea of dulcimer metal but weren't as happy as I was with Botanist's previous effort, I have some good news for you: The Botanist has slowed things down...a lot. Yes, it seems that what was once odd and blasting has toned down, making way for something much more thoughtful and, dare I say it, pretty. Doom In Bloom, Botanist's third album and second physical release overall, demonstrates a new, doom metal-inspired side of Botanist, which, in my opinion, reflects the nature-oriented side of the project, rather than the rage-filled eco-terrorism displayed on the last two albums. Utilizing both hammered and bowed dulcimers, reed organs, impressively clear drumming, and a few new vocal approaches, Doom in Bloom offers a much calmer, albeit still very disjointed and odd, atmosphere, relying on large, harmonically pleasing chord progressions to make his view on nature's power and beauty as clear and crisp as his dulcimer's tone. The Botanist's choice of a doom metal setting for his dulcimer-led project makes all too much sense, especially with the instrument's natural, buzzing sustain (especially when bowed). One would think more doom metal bands would have taken the plunge and started using supersustaining instruments like The Botanist has. You know you can theoretically make a reed organ sustain forever? I can sense the most obnoxious funeral doom band in the planning stages already.

The magnificence achieved with III: Doom In Bloom marks a sort of halfway point between slow, droning folk music and harmonically dense doom metal. The complete about face Botanist has taken with this new direction is both as pleasing as it is unique and, as I said earlier, challenging. Doom In Bloom is accompanied by a second disc of "remixes" titled Allies, in which other projects record their own interpretations of Botanist material over the original Botanist drum tracks. An interesting endeavor, but I feel it is merely an afterthought in the wake of the first disc. III: Doom In Bloom/Allies is available from Israeli label TotalRust Music and many other fine distributors of music.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...