Friday, December 23, 2011
Botanist - I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose from the Dead (tUMULt, 2011)
I’m entirely enamored of the hammered dulcimer. The instrument sounds like the mutant offspring of a piano, harpsichord and harp. Botanist employs the instrument’s powers for evil; it’s a refreshing and ingenious idea. The band crafts twisted black metal in which the hammered dulcimer replaces guitars altogether. The results exceed all possible expectations. Botanist’s ambitions, however, don’t end with this sonic switcheroo; the music is augmented with a vicious, verdant lyrical narrative.
Botanist doesn't possess any of the somnambulant torpor of the “world” and “new age” music that usually features the hammered dulcimer; these are fucking sinister compositions. Botanist is the brain child and product of one enigmatic man bearing the pseudonym Otrebor. He accompanies these manic orchestrations with well trained beats and blasts, overlaying it all with a crepitating croak.
The most stunning aspect of these songs are the riffs. Each track is filled with distinctive and memorable musical phrases that ebb and flow with sonic tension. Creeping, chromatic formations battle with abject dissonance and fascinating harmony. Vibes of victory, loss and sorrow take to life, enveloping the listener in a sylvan cocoon. The hammered dulcimer is produced with perfect clarity, making excellent use of the stereo field to transmit its staccato tintinnabulations.
Otrebor's drumming prowess imbues the hammered dulcimer with a particular vehemence. The peculiar synergy of blastbeats and hammered strings radically rethinks black metal's tremolo picked raison d'être. Botanist unmoors a staggering raft of rhythms; I'm repeatedly inclined to bang my head to this music.
Tossing orthodoxy to the wind, Botanist ably embodies black metal's chaotic ethos. Otrebor's saurian vocal ministrations convey only the utmost misanthropy. Infinite care is given to the meticulous, poetic lyrics, which detail the constituents of The Botanist's Verdant Realm. The eponymous character tends his flock of deadly flora as if they were family. With melancholy and hatred, our narrator eagerly awaits the annihilation of mankind. It's unclear whether or not he'll personally participate in the impending holocaust.
Don't fear this new horizon of sound; Botanist has produced something coherent, compelling and crucial. Botanist's music won't please all ears, but don't discount these xenomorphic anthems without due diligence and an open mind. Do beware the gorechid.
I bought the gorgeously packaged double album from Aquarius Records. You can stream both discs in full over at Brooklyn Vegan.