Underground Sounds: Botanist – Collective: The Shape of He to Come

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Botanist
Origin: United States / The Verdant Realm

Harmonious collective in the Verdant realm of Botanist

The group Botanist really functions as a group on this brand new album, which feels very different to their earlier efforts. A year after the split with Oskoreien, we step away from the numbered series of albums to create something new in the form of Collective: The Shape of He to Come. 

Though Botanist is currently touring (and I’ll be seeing them play in a week in Eindhoven’s very own Dynamo), they will not be playing songs from this record, because the band is not the same as the one that made this record. Particularly the singing of Bezaelith is key to these songs, but she’s not touring with the band.

On this record, Otrebor has shared writing responsibilities with the other members. This makes the album a more layered construction, with new aspects and more of a complete vibe. When an album is created by a solo-artist, it somehow always has a little bit of that solitary vision in its execution. The album has more now, more musicality, more wanderings down untrodden garden paths… It’s an exciting, fresh new sound. If you like to read more about that process, which so clearly shapes the sound, read about it here.

The sound of that hammered dulcimer completely enthralls me. The hitting feels firm, but also mellow to the ear, taking off the sharp edge of black metal riffing. Botanist sounds unique because of that. It can create heavy, percussive black metal, but obviously also classical sounding, melancholic music. That is immediately clear on opener ‘Praise Azalea the Adversary’, with its gentle intro. The gentle, shivery vocals on the first part of ‘The Shape of He to Come’ also are so different, but filled with the fragile beauty of nature in its very own way.

The music blossoms as one could say, slowly unfolding. Tones grow together like an unkept garden, they merge together and weave green tapestries of sound with that mournful singing in harmony. A great example is ‘Upon Veltheim’s Throne Shall I Wait’, where everything gathers in a steady stream.

So there’s always a lot of subtlety to the music of Botanist, it doesn’t hit you in the face with force, but overgrows you gradually.  Subtle bass loops, spun out soundscapes, this record lacks every aspect of brutality and that is in fact perfectly fine. On ‘Join the Continuum’ there’s even some straight up folk music, with ladies chanting melancholic, yearning words. Most imposing track is the epic ‘The Reconciliation of Nature and Man’. An epic, rumbling track, where the percussionist elements really are the source of the feeling in your gut. Everything about this record just oozes that different method and plan behind it. Otrebor definitely holds it close to the tradition of Botanist, but this record explores new sounds and expressions. It’s a great trip and I am really looking forward to hearing this live.

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