"So variantenreich Black Metal auch ist, auf die Gitarre wird selten verzichtet. Klammert man stilfremde Nebenprojekte aus, so bleiben nur wenige Ausnahmen wie beispielsweise die griechischen Necromantia mit ihren zwei Bässen. Botanist, das seit rund drei Jahren bestehende Einmannprojekt aus der kalifornischen Bay Area, erreicht mit seinem Gitarrenverzicht einen fast konträren Effekt, was an der Wahl eines für Black Metal ungewöhnlichen Instruments liegt. Statt einer Gitarre verwendet der Musiker, der sich Otrebor nennt, nämlich einen Hammered Dulcimer, hierzulande bekannt als Hackbrett.
Von Haus aus Drummer fällt ihm das perkussive Saitenspiel nicht schwer, wenngleich zwischen den rhythmischen Passagen immer wieder Momente vorkommen, in denen das schnelle Spiel einen flächigen Eindruck rasenden Stillstandes entstehen lässt. Und es gibt Augenblicke von starker Klangfülle, in denen man fast vergisst, dass man es nur mit den von Otrebor selbst eingespielten Instrumenten Schlagzeug und Hackbrett zu tun hat – wilde, infernalische Jagden, begleitet von hasserfülltem Gekeife, dann wieder starre, paralysierte Klangmauern. Die amerikanische Traditionslinie von Weakling über Velvet Caccoon bis Wolves In The Throne Room stand sicher Pate, auch frühe Burzum kommen einem in den Sinn. Gerade mit den amerikanischen Kollegen verbindet ihn auch das inhaltliche Konzept, das mindestens so markant ist wie die Instrumentierung. Botanist (schon der Name impliziert es) frönt der im Black Metal noch eher jungen Vorliebe für Positionen, die gemeinhin als „ökoterroristisch“ gelabelt werden, und er verbindet seine radikale und mythologisch eingefärbte Umwelt- und Naturverbundenheit mit Misanthropie und einer Affinität zu allem Apokalyptischen. Kurz gesagt prophezeit Botanist eine Welt, in der Pflanzen die Herrschaft über den Planeten Erde erlangt haben. Tierisches Leben darf nicht fehlen, da es für ein botanisch dominiertes Ökosystem unerlässlich ist, aber in den selbstentworfenen Mythen mag es vernachlässigt werden. Und an die merkwürdigen Primaten, deren Schreckensherrschaft vor allem in den letzten Jahrhunderten infernalische Ausmaße annahm, erinnert kaum mehr etwas, sobald man sich erst einmal in Botanists Utopie begeben hat. Natürlich ist das vor allem der Stoff für einen SciFi-Roman und jede Menge verträumtes Wunschdenken – v.a. die vor einiger Zeit in einem Interview geäußerte Vorstellung, dass die (pflanzliche) Natur den Fremdkörper Mensch ohnehin früher oder später entsorgen werde und jeder Aktivismus daher unnötig sei, wirkt weltfremd, wenn man denn den Fehler macht, sie allzu wörtlich zu nehmen, statt sie primär als Ausdruck eines ästhetisch manifestierten Unbehagens zu sehen. Guter Black Metal ist niemals direkt politisch, sondern vor allem Narration, die Haltungen eher andeutet und dabei gerne überzeichnet.
Hackbrett-BM in Reinkultur gab es vor allem auf den ersten beiden Alben „The Suicide Tree“ und „A Rose From The Dead “, die als Doppel-CD erhältlich und längst kein Geheimtipp mehr sind. Doch Botanist häutet und entwickelt sich stets, immer dem jeweiligen Konzept verpflichtet. Auf der jüngsten Veröffentlichung steht mehr denn je der Aspekt des Unausweichlichen im Vordergrund, weswegen die Musik auch – nomen es omen – einen doomigeren Ton als bisher anschlägt. Die wesentliche Neuerung auf „Doom in Bloom“ betrifft indes weniger das Tempo als den Aufbau und den Verlauf der Stücke, denn statt kurzer, heftiger und ohne Umschweife beginnender Soundgewitter gibt es sehr lange Kompositionen von verhältnismäßig wechselhafter Struktur, bei der auch die melodische Seite mehr zum Zug kommt. Natürlich sind die Stücke auch schleppender, und über weite Strecken des Openers z.B. erinnert hauptsächlich der aggressive Flüstergesang an BM. Doch auch in den langsamen Passagen verfällt die Musik niemals dem Phlegma, sondern ist stets kraftvoll-heroisch, so dass der Bruch zu Blastbeats nur eine Frage der Zeit ist. In den nachfolgenden Stücken gibt es repetitive, schnelle Passagen, aber auch rappelige Marschtrommeln. Furcherregendes Flüstern wechselt sich mit hysterischem Kreischgesang ab, experimentelle Passagen mit folkigen Momenten. Auf der zweiten Seite sind unter dem Titel “Allies” eine Reihe von Kollaborationen zusammengestellt, die veranschaulichen, was Botanist noch alles sein könnte, würde er sich entscheiden, kein Soloprojekt zu sein. Die Seite ist offener gestaltet, das verbindende Element neben der Pflanzenthematik liegt im Drumming. Zusammen mit Matrushka, die mir – wie sämtliche andere Mitwirkende – unbekannt sind, entsteht ein soundorientiertes Stück mit Froschquaken. Mit Cult of Lenneus entsteht erneut doomiger Black Metal, der von der Ophidian Forest-Kollaboration an drückendem Pathos überboten wird. Hervorzuheben sind auch Lotus Thief und Bestiary mit weiblichen Vocals.
Trotz Titel und Downtempo auf weiten Strecken spielt Botanist m.E. immer noch eher Black Metal, wenn auch von einer Art, die sich vielfältiger Doom-Elemente bedient. Für eine reine Doomplatte fehlt dem Album die bleierne Schwere ebenso wie der unterschwellige Protestantismus vieler Vertreter (Doom ist ja schon als Begriff näher an der christlichen Vorsehung als am antiken Konzept des Schicksals). Hervorragend ist übrigens auch das Artwork aus dem Atelier von Matt Waldron, der ebenfalls als Musiker (irr. app. (ext.), Nurse With Wound) bekannt ist – beim Anblick der Alraune, die dem nichtsahnenden Hörer da ins Ohr krabbelt, erscheint mir das Konzept doch längst nicht so anti-aktivistisch zu sein, wie behauptet. (U.S.)" -- Uwe Schneider, African Paper, July 28, 2012
(English translation by Tobias Hændel)
"As colorful as black metal may be, the guitar, as an instrument, is rarely abandoned. When one excludes side projects, only few exceptions, like the Greek Necromantia with their two bass guitars, remain. Botanist, a one-man project founded three years ago from the Californian Bay Area, reaches, with his eschewing of guitars, an almost contrary effect via the choice of a unique instrument for black metal. Instead of a guitar, the musician, who calls himself Otrebor, uses a hammered dulcimer.
Being innately a drummer, playing percussive string music is not difficult for him, although between the rhythmic passages there are repeatedly moments in which the fast play creates a flat impression of raging cessation. There are also moments of strong sonority in which one tends to forget that Otrebor's only recorded instruments are his drums and the dulcimer – wild, hellish hunts accompanied by vitriolic screeching, and then there are again rigid, paralyzed walls of sound.
The American line of tradition from Weakling to Velvet Caccoon to Wolves in the Throne Room may have acted as the model for this; Burzum might also cross one's mind. Particularly, the concept connects Otrebor with his American brothers, which is at least as distinctive as the instrumentation. Botanist (as the name already implies) indulges in the still young tendency within black metal to adopt positions that are commonly identified as 'eco-terrorist' and connects his radically and mythologically driven bond with nature and environment with an affinity for everything apocalyptic.
In brief, Botanist soothsays a world in which plants have seized control over planet Earth. Of course animal life must not be absent since it is required for a botanically dominated ecosystem. However, in the self-created myths, it may be neglected. And no one is reminded any more of the odd primates, whose terror regime took on infernal proportions especially in the last centuries, as soon as one enters Botanist's utopia. This is certainly the topic for a sci-fi novel and much further bemused, wishful thinking – especially the idea uttered in an interview some time ago, that (botanical) nature will get rid of the alien element, Man, sooner or later anyway, and as such, every activism is thusly superfluous, appearing unworldly - if one makes the mistake of taking it way too literally, instead of seeing it primarily as an expression of aesthetically manifested discontent. Good black metal never is directly political, but most of its narration and attitudes are rather hinted at, and in this way, occasionally exaggerated.
Pure dulcimer-driven black metal was practiced especially on the first two albums, 'I: The Suicide Tree' and 'II: A Rose From the Dead,' which are available as a double CD and have been an insider's tip for a long time. Botanist, however continues to molt and to develop, always committed to the respective concept. The most recent release centers more than ever on the aspect of the inevitable, which is why the music – nomen es omen – adopts a doomier tone than before. The central innovation on 'III: Doom in Bloom' affects not so much the tempo as the structure and process of the songs, because instead of short, fierce and straightforwardly starting tempests of sounds, Otrebor created long compositions of relatively alternating structure, in which the melodic side gets the chance to shine.
The songs are indeed more sluggish and over long periods (like on the opener, for example) only the aggressive whispering reminds of black metal. But also during long passages the music never resorts to phlegmatism, but presents itself as being always vigorous / heroic, so that the transition to blast beasts lasts only a short while. There are repetitive, fast passages in the following songs, but also jittery military drums. Eerie whispering alternates with hysterical screeching and experimental passages with folksy moments.
Under the label 'Allies,' there is a number of collaborations put together on the album's second disk that demonstrate what else Botanist could be if he decided to give up the one-man project. This side is more open, and the only conjoining element (besides the botanical subject) is the drumming. Together with Matrushka, who – just like any other participant – is unknown to me, a sound-oriented piece with frog croaking is created. Then Cult of Linnaeus contrive again doomy black metal, which is surpassed in heavy pathos by the Ophidian Forest collaboration. Lotus Thief and Bestiary, both with female vocalists, are also worth mentioning.
To my mind, Botanist still rather plays black metal despite the title and downtempo, although it's a one-of-a-kind creation that employs a variety of doom elements. For a pure doom record, the album is missing the leaden severity as well as the subliminal Protestantism of many representatives (the term "doom " is closer to the Christian providence than to the ancient concept of destiny). The artwork, which comes from the atelier of Matt Waldron, who is also known as a musician (irr.app.(ext.), Nurse With Wound), is excellent as well – looking at the mandrake, which is climbing in the ear of the unsuspecting listener, the concept does not appear to be that anti-activist to me, as claimed." -- Uwe Schneider, African Paper, July 28, 2012
(original French posting follows)
"Je ne puis regarder une feuille d’arbre sans être écrasé par l’univers." -- Victor Hugo
"La flore sauvage vient une fois de plus recouvrir notre corps en devenir. Une pollinisation du conduit auditif avant injection de neurotoxine. Les fleurs s'ouvrent, explosent, mutent à une allure parfaitement calme qui inquièterait même les insectes. Puis soudain elle s'irradie, comme un matin de printemps, l'odeur de mousse mouillé et d'écorce encore fraiche qui se mêle au brouhaha des mandibules de fourmis sur les souches.
Les moirures et les veines se sculptent dans le hammered dulcimer, alourdi d'une chute d'arbres en guise de grosse caisse. La fleur se meurt et sa sève coule à n'en plus finir jusqu'au dessèchement total. Elle a enfantée, quelques graines - sûrement du rhododendoom.
Puis elle s'apaise. Mère Nature, qui enfante ces êtres invisibles, ni présents ni absents, qui d'une étrange légèreté nous jettent de la poudre aux yeux. L'absurdité lumineuse qui prend tout son sens, la déconstruction logique et harmonieuse après ingestion d'un pied d'Amanita Virosa.
J'entends les respirations des plantes, les murmures des anthestéries. Le vide entre chaque note, entre chaque battement d'ailes. L'horrifiante supériorité végétale que je tente de contenir sur mon balcon, ou hors de mes chemins.
Abandonnez-vous, contemplez les feuilles vertes ou mortes, et changez votre ciel pour la canopée. Les araignées tisseront leurs toiles autour de vos côtes comme le Verdant Realm l'attend, patiemment, dans son abri ouvert et verdoyant.
Abandonnez-vous, respirez à plein poumons l' eau des abysses et vous verrez, sûrement quelques secondes, le non-imaginé.
Comme un terroriste pacifiste, le Verdant Realm s'insinue lentement dans votre matière grise pour, finalement, la transformer en matière noire.
La pollinisation se termine, et la transformation s'amorce, sur Panax, aussi connu sous le nom de Ginseng, plante aux allures étrangement humaines...
A noter que le second disque est un disque fait par les compagnons d'armes de Botanist (Matrushka, Arborist, Ophidian Forest...) qui apporte, même s'il est plus classique, une autre vue sur le travail de l'artiste - qui reste toujours derrière les futs." -- Devs Ω, Ambient Churches, July 5, 2012
"I cannot witness a leaf of a tree without being crushed by the weight of the universe." -- Victor Hugo
"Once again, wild flora has come to engulf our body and become one with it. A pollination of the aural conduit prior to neurotoxin injection. Flowers open, explode, and mutate to a likeness so perfectly calm that even insects would be unnerved. Then suddenly the flower irradiates itself like a spring morning, with the smell of wet moss and fresh bark that mixes with the hubbub of the mandibles of ants on tree stumps.
The veins and shimmers are sculpted by the hammered dulcimer, made heavier from the bass drum, which is like falling out of trees. The flower dies, its sap flowing endlessly until it reaches utter dessication. But she, the flower, has engendered some seeds -- surely seeds of rhododendoom.
And then, it is at peace. Mother Nature, she who gives birth to these invisible beings -- beings who are neither present nor absent -- she, with a strange lightness, throws powder in our eyes. The luminous absurdity that takes all of its meaning, the logical and harmonious deconstruction that takes place after consumption of a stalk of Amanita Virosa.
I hear the breathing of the plants, the murmurs from the bacchanalia. The emptiness between each note, between each flap of wings. The horrific superiority of the vegetation I'm trying to contain on my balcony, or beyond my paths.
Give yourselves over, breathe deeply of the waters of the abyss and you will see, surely for a few seconds, that which has not been imagined.
Like a pacifistic terrorist, the Verdant Realm slowly creeps into your grey matter until, finally, that grey matter becomes black.
The pollination comes to an end, and the subsequent transformation is dangled before you on 'Panax,' also known as ginseng, that plant with strangely alluring human-like qualities...
Of note is that the album's second disk consists of Botanist's brothers-in-arms (Matrushka, Arborist, Ophidian Forest...) who bring to the table, even if it is in a more classical way, another vista on the work of the main artist, who remains hidden amongst the trees." -- Devs Ω, Ambient Churches, July 5, 2012
"Fuck yes, alright everyone, pay attention. The one man nature themed hammered dulcimer & drums black metaller is back with his second/third album and he’s gone doom. Dreams can come true. Forget that Pallbearer shit, Doom In Bloom is this year’s best and weirdest doom record. Botanist has kept the two instrument thing for the most part, although I definitely hear some harmonium style reeds in there occasionally. His take on black metal, which is basically “fuck the norms I’ll make my own,” is exactly the same with his doom stylings. Most doom tropes are tossed out while still somehow keeping within the genre. Absolutely amazing stuff. I get some serious Jesu vibes on this, especially the opening track which sounds like it could’ve been a Silver demo, but that’s the closest comparison I can make and it’s a total stretch. Doom In Bloom is dissonant & destructive, with vocals that range between creaking doors & torture victims, epic major key crescendos, wonky lurching brain fucks, rhythms & melodies that make absolutely no sense at first and sound like a fucking wreck, then everything clicks and it’s perfection incarnate.
But wait there’s more! This is a double disc. Allies, the companion, is like some weird covers/remix album, where Botanist gave his buds (GET IT???) the drum tracks for each of the songs and said do what you will, just make sure it’s about nature. So you get some black ambient, black metal, more doom, and all sorts of cool shit, from Matrushka, Cult Of Linnaeus, Ophidian Forest, Arborist, Lotus Thief, and Bestiary, all of which sound nothing like the originals, all of which is totally awesome.
Botanist is kicking so much ass and Doom In Bloom is absolutely incredible. Dude is essentially unstoppable and he’s only put out a few records. Do not miss out on this." -- Anti-Gravity Bunny, June 21, 2012
"The return of Botanist, the SF one-man eco-terrorist black metal band, whose curious weapons of war are pretty much just drums, voice, and hammered dulcimer! Sounds strange, and it most certainly is, and black metal fans have definitely been divided: too weird, and not nearly metal enough for some, perfectly twisted and mesmerizingly oddball for others.
We, like many of you, definitely fall into the latter camp, our own Andee having released Botanist's double disc debut, a sprawling collection of short sharp bursts of brittle steel string buzz and furious blasts, but as you may have gleaned from the title of Botanist's third record, some things have changed this time around. Most notably, the tempos are slowed way down, the tonal palette too is much more varied, the sound surprisingly lush, and describing some of the sounds here as simply doom would definitely be selling short the twisted innovation and warped songcraft on display here.
Just check out the record opener, 'Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II),' a swampy, dirgey, slithery creep, that reminds us more of groups like Woven Hand or Der Blutharsch, where the dulcimer manages to sound almost like a piano at times, and the melody is so wistful and melancholy. If it weren't for the raspy vokills, this could be some dark apocalyptic folk ballad. And so goes the rest of the record, unfurling darkly and dramatically, from loping doomy dirge, to creepy slo-mo deathmarch, to strangely propulsive almost post-rock; much of this record sounding like something, that, sans vox, could be on Temporary Residence, brooding, slow building, majestic and epic, all shot through with a healthy helping of drone, the steel string buzz creating mesmerizing layers of subtly shifting overtones, and woozily tangled melodies.
Some of the tracks have a distinctly cabaret vibe as well, but even then, the sound tends to return to something more stately, trudging through thick fields of chiming notes and shimmering buzz, the vocals often buried, but sometimes a demonic croak, and strangely enough, the vocals tend to be at their most demonic when the music is at its most lovely, which makes for a potent, and fantastically confusional combination.
Fans of the first record will definitely not be disappointed, but folks into brooding, slow-build post rock, and dark-drone-driven doom folk, should give a listen as well.
As a bonus, also included is a second disc, called Allies, which finds friends of the Botanist creating their own tracks using drum tracks from the Doom In Bloom sessions. The sounds and songs vary sonically quite a bit, there's strange staticky hushed ambient drift, crushing sludgey slo-mo doom, blown out, soaring, hazy mid-tempo black metal buzz (courtesy of the Botanist's other band, Ophidian Forest), some corrosive noise, too, but there's a clutch of tracks that might surprise folks, the witchy, doomy female vocal-driven Bestiary and the pop-flecked, almost Opeth-y melodic metal of Lotus Thief, but probably our favorite reworking comes from Arborist, whose version starts off as a sort of lumbering, lo-fi bit of screamo-y slo-mo creep, which explodes into a super psychedelic blast of woozy heaviness, the riffs and melodies slipping and sliding and seeming to melt before your very ears. Definitely hope the Arborist and the Botanist do more together in the future (which seems likely, as the Arborist actually records all the Botanist records)...
And if three records is still not enough Botanist for you (it's not for us!), fear not! There are already at least three, if not more, full lengths on deck. We can't wait!" -- Andee Connors, Aquarius Records, July 6, 2012
"Il mondo musicale è colmo di potenzialità, di spunti di genio e di gran dischi, vi sono tantissimi musicisti dotati e band di caratura importante ma artisti che lo siano sempre e comunque? Quelli sono davvero pochi. Per molti che leggeranno questo testo starò forse per dire un'eresia ma ritengo Otrebor (The Botanist) allo stesso livello degli osannatissimi Devin Townsend e Ihsahn e il perché é molto semplice: l'artista in questione, perché tale è, è uno di quei personaggi eclettici, capace di cambiare, modificare e reinventare la propria connessione con l'arte di album in album, come di band in band: se aveste seguito Aristocrazia in questi anni, ve ne sarete resi conto leggendo il suo pensiero ampio e descrittivo racchiuso in parte nella nostra intervista e in parte nel suo vivere ed esplorare questo mondo tramite l'altra realtà della quale è membro, gli Ophidian Forest (troverete le loro recensioni nel listone).
Se pensate di poter andare incontro al nuovo doppio lavoro 'III: Doom In Bloom' come si fa con qualsiasi altro disco metal, vi sbagliate di grosso.
È una dimensione parallela che nel proprio dischiudersi ha ingurgitato tutto ciò che riteneva necessario per il sostentamento, noterete sin da subito che le atmosfere 'floreali' e 'silvestri' in genere dei primi due capitoli 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead' siano state inglobate in una centrifuga emotiva immensa che spazia in una miriade di stili coinvolgendo il doom, il black, il noise, bagnandosi languidamente in lidi folk e ambient, dimostrando come sia possibile far convivere melancolia, dimenticanza, oscurità con delicatezza, vivacità e bagliori di luce.
Avete presente l'immagine di un uomo che corre in mezzo a una fitta foresta durante il giorno con le fronde degli alberi che creano quel gioco costante di chiaroscuro impedendo in parte il passaggio dei raggi solari? Quel continuo rincorrersi di ombre che appaiono e scompaiono improvvisamente? Ecco, una delle sensazioni o raffigurazioni mentali che le tracce potrebbero offrirvi è questa, è un 'mindtrick'? Probabile, il bello è anche questo.
Siete disposti a mettere da parte ogni riserva e allearvi con l'artista? È fondamentale abbandonarsi, 'III: Doom in Bloom' non è assolutamente di facile ascolto, è una di quelle opere d'arte che necessita di un approfondimento costante, ripetuto nel tempo, è troppo varia e stravagante anche nelle sue esibizioni più elementari e cicliche, vedasi il concludersi ossessivo di 'Panax,' e dinamicamente perigliosa in alcune occasioni, prendete ad esempio il pezzo più corto del primo disco 'Ganoderma Lucidum' eppure è quello che ti fa chiedere con maggior insistenza: dove vuole andare a parare? Ogni interrogativo che vi si fisserà in testa diverrà per voi motivo avvalorante per il prosieguo del percorso intrapreso, una sfida alla quale non vorrete rinunciare.
Il secondo cd che porta come sottotitolo 'Allies' è la riprova che Otrebor è uno che ama rischiare e prova piacere nel mettersi alla prova sempre e comunque.
Il mastermind del progetto ha deciso di invitare gentilmente alcuni amici a suonare, ha fornito loro le basi di batteria utilizzate per 'III: Doom in Bloom' e ha chiesto di inserirvi la propria personalità. In pratica ha volutamente creato da geni di partenza condivisi con la creatura Botanist una serie di "specie" alternative alle quali l'operato di questi signori ha fornito caratteristiche distinte, si vedano "Cordyceps" alla quale gli Ophidian Forest hanno affidato il trasporto e la visione atmosferica/sperimentale, doti delle quali sono in gran possesso, "Total Entarchy" alla quale gli Arborist hanno dato una forma particolarmente variegata che alterna fraseggi rozzi ad altri di una disarmante dolcezza con stravaganti venature "country" a far capolino. Preferisco fermarmi qui e non svelarvi tutte le sorprese che vi verranno offerte.
Finita la traversata del mondo Botanist, il piacevole "brainwashing" che "III Doom In Bloom" nella sua interezza mi ha piacevolmente imposto m'invita a rimetterlo su e tenendo conto che si parla di quasi due ore di musica, capirete che il centro segnato dall'artista sia di quelli che lasciano un segno netto, ben distinto.
Vi ritenete impavidi? Adorate guardare oltre provando a scrutare quei luoghi che solitamente non vengono solcati dalla massa di release che escono annualmente? Se la risposta a entrambe le domande è un grosso "sì", dovreste assolutamente avere nella vostra collezione quest'album ed è altrettanto corretto, dovesse intrigarvi "III Doom In Bloom", recuperare il precedente, diverrebbe la cosa più ovvia da fare per scoprire e amare integralmente l'operato di Botanist. Capolavoro e ci sta tutto." -- Mourning, Aristocrazia Webzine, August 27, 2012
"The musical world is full of potential, of inspired genius and great albums... there are tons of capable musicians and high-level bands, but how many of them are artists that are consistent? Those are few, indeed.
What I'm about to say may seem like heresy to many, but I hold Otrebor (aka The Botanist) in the same regard as the godly Devin Townsend and Ihsahn. The reason why is simple: the artist in question, as an eclectic person, is able to change, modify and reinvent his own relationship with his art from album to album, as well as from band to band -- if you've followed Aristocrazia the past few years, you will have gotten a sense of that from reading his ample thoughts and descriptions, in part in our own interview with him, and in part from his explorations of this world transmitted via the alternate reality in which he takes part as a member of Ophidian Forest (whose reviews you can find on our site).
If you think you can approach the latest double album, 'III: Doom in Bloom,' as you would any other metal release, you are grossly mistaken.
You'll notice right away that the "floral" and "sylvan" atmosphere from the first two chapters, 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead' have been engulfed in an immense emotional centrifuge of a myriad of styles comprising doom, black and noise, all bathing languidly on the shores of folk and ambient, demonstrating how it's possible to have melancholy, forgetfulness and obscurity coexist, and do so with delicacy, vibrancy and brilliance.
Can you envision a man running amongst a dense forest during the day, as the branches of the trees create an array of chiaroscuro by partially blocking the sunlight, which make a continuous series of shadows that appear and disappear at random? That would be one mental picture you could make... but is it a mind trick? The great thing is that it very well may be.
Are you willing to put aside your reservations and go along with the artist? It's essential to abandon oneself, as 'III: Doom in Bloom' is not entirely an easy listen -- it's a work of art that requires a constant deepening of appreciation, repeated over time, as it's too varied and extravagant even at its most elementary and cyclical, like on the album's obsessive finale, 'Panax,' and dynamically perilous on a few occasions, like on the shortest track of the first disc, 'Ganoderma Lucidum,' yet it is one that will make you insistently ask, 'where is he going with this?' Every question that gets lodged in your head will become an affirmation to see the path to the end, a challenge that you will not want to give up on.
The second disc, entitled 'Allies,' again proves that Otrebor is someone who likes to take risks and challenge himself. The project's mastermind invited some of his friends to write music in their own personality to drum tracks used on 'III: Doom in Bloom.' The result is practically a creation of new individual alternative 'species' with distinct characteristics, as we can see on 'Cordyceps', to which Ophidian Forest have suffused a transcendentally atmospheric / experimental vision, something in which they are highly talented. Arborist gives 'Total Entarchy' a particularly varied form that alternates rough riffs with sections of disarming delicacy and extravagant veins of country that peep out. I'd like to stop here and not reveal all the surprises you will discover on 'Allies.'
At the end of my journey within the world of Botanist, the pleasant feeling of 'brainwashing' is inviting me to start the trip anew. Keeping in mind that we're talking about a total of nearly two hours of music, this means that the core signature of the artist's style is one that leaves a distinct impression.
Are you feeling brave? You do love looking beyond the mass of releases that come out every year, and find something that crosses somewhere new? If the answer is a resounding 'yes,' you should absolutely have this album in your collection. You should seek out both 'III: Doom in Bloom' as well as the previous release. They are simply masterpieces." -- Mourning, Aristocrazia Webzine, August 27, 2012
"A mescalin ütött, az extasytól pörögtem. Egyszerre láttam önmagamat magamban és magamon kívül, de a spanok is révetegen áradoztak legújabb, testen belüli élményükről. Vidáman, gyöngyöző kacajjal orcánkon henteregtünk a kedvesen zöldellő fűben – a virágok ránk mosolyogtak, a giliszták huncutul mászták meg forrón nyilalló testünket. Éltünk, a csudába is, végre kiszabadultunk a konzumvilágból és önfeledten adózhattunk természetanya csodás jóságának! A fák boldog táncot jártak körülöttünk, a madarak vidáman csiripeltek, az egyik pici rigócska dalra is fakadt: 'Manchester, England, England…' Ezt már egy aranyos nyírfácska, kedves zöld barátunk sem hagyhatta szó nélkül, és rácifrázott: 'And I believe in Claude!'
Mire mindannyian felugrottunk egymásról, letéptük mezítlábunkról a biomasszát, és koszból-sárból font táskánkat lóbálva egyként daloltuk, hogy 'süt ránk a napsugár, tengerszínű kék az ég!'
De aztán minden elromlott. Vidámságunk kétségbeesésbe torkollott, a mennyország pokollá vált és elbaszták az egészet. Megérkeztek a kékek, mert valami morcos városi nímand felbaszott minket. 'Ozorazzia, némá' – suttogta kedvesen Ráhel, aznapi életem szerelme, majd rákontrázott: 'Mondd meg nekik, hogy anyjukba takarodjanak, meg hogy basszák fel a kéket!'
De ez nem az a pillanat volt – nem, mert mikor leértünk a domboldalról, láttuk, hogy itt valami egészen másról van szó. Lassan hömpölyögtek ugyanis felénk a hatalmas, vicsorgó, kék kalapos gyilkos galócák, melyek mérgező peronoszpórákat lövelltek szerencsétlen, semmiről sem tehető izraeliekre, akik a csapásokat fogadva mindannyian rögvest szublimáltak!
Remegve kezdtem hátrálni, ám ekkor nekiütköztem valami nagy, nyálkás, ördögi kacajt hallató rémségnek – megfordulva pedig majdem kocsányon kezdtek lógni szemeim.
- Ejnye, na, hát mi a panax? – kérdezi tőlem egy legalább öt méter magas, veszélyes csápokkal hadonászó gyökér, majd rémítő lassúsággal kezd el körém fonódni, egyre csak a fülembe susogva szörnyűséges rigmusait: 'Virágozzék ezer virág, de csak adja már az orchideát!'
Én mondom, a végzet órája volt ez! Mondom neki, 'miféle szerzet vagy te?', mire ő röhögve azt feleli: 'az Euonymus családjából vagyok, te nyomorult csepűrágó!' Szívem szerelme erre gyorsan felcsapná a növényes kisokosát, de a felgyorsuló események – a biztos bizonytalanul kecske barátunk fölé hajol, majd éles fogaival elkezdi szívni a vérét – hatására feleszmélünk: 'De hiszen ez egy Mérgeskék Kecskerágó!'
Több sem kellett a ginsengúznak, ránk kezdett fenekedni és csak annyit vetett oda: 'adjátok elő a szíveteket, kicsi csírák, akkor megkímélem életetek!'
Barátnőm erre lenyúlt a torkán, majd egy véres-trutymós csomót húzott ki a száján, és remegve nyújtotta át a veszettül röhögő gyöktörzsőrmesternek, aki azt átvéve valami fehér port frecskendezett rá, majd egyben lenyelte az egészet!
Ijedten tekintettem csajomra, aki szelíd mosollyal arcán csak ennyit susogott nekem: 'Találkozunk Dallasban, Babar!' – majd hátrahanyatlott, szétnyílt ökléből pedig előviláglott egy kicsi liliomkezdemény, mely a pici Ráhel életadó kezéből kezdett virágozni.
Erre a gonosz gyökér sem volt rest, immár fölém magasodva igyekezett valami végzeteset elkövetni – legalábbis dühödt vicsorgásából ('Nincsen Lili Om nélkül!') arra következtettem, hogy még nem fejezte be a szararckodást. Nem is tévedtem sokat: előkapta vállon hordozható tubarózsájából a házimagnóját, és kazettán elkezdte játszani az Om legújabb slágerét! Már kezdtem hinni, hogy a magyar buddhisták mantrája kihúzhat a csávából, de a rémálOMnak még nem volt vége: a hangszóróból ugyanis kis kacsók kezdtek kinyúlni, melyek hosszú indákká nemesedve kúsztak a fülembe, egyiken be, a másikon ki, a gyökérbiztos pedig csak annyit mondott:
'Ilyen a virágon nincs, ez totál bekészült! Hát én mentem lepetézek!'
És, kedves barátaim, bizony isten így is tett." -- Holden, Autodafe, August 28, 2012
"There's a fine line between creating something unique and sporting a gimmick to cover a lack of good ideas.
There's a fine line between hypnotizing minimalism and boring uninspired repetitivity.
Botanist are standing dangerously unsafe on these lines throughout this second album.
Thematically, Botanist explores the Verdant Realm, a world of plants, flowers and trees, the inhumane, flowery cosmos that where long before mankind and will cover the ruins we'll leave behind in green. The seven slowly treacling, expanding songs are performed with two instruments only: drums and hammered dulcimer (there are some accordions, bass guitars and other instruments in there as well but it's mainly hammered strings, skins and cymbals). Whereas the first album - comprising part I and II - seems to have been in a more black metal vein, this third section is - hence its title - mainly slow and brooding in composition.
The atmosphere of the album recalls somewhat of late Ulver, some of the more open pieces by Guapo (especially their botanical meditations on the Twisted Stems EP), the atmospheres of Maudlin of the Well and even more the percussion/hammered strings dynamics of Silentist, but far from the musical articulation and expressivity of the mentioned bands - and definitely nowhere near the timbral eclecticism of them.
My main problem with this album is not the formal minimalism of the many slow sections throughout this album. It's that they hardly go anywhere. Treading water with uninspired, simple chord structures, the unexpected timbre of the instruments have a hard time to make up for the lack of musical ideas. Certain sections move slowly over a handful chords that sound so rudimentary, that you could just as well be listening to the musician practicing at home. I'm not expecting dense clusters of mindbending dissonance a la Penderecki or a melodic sensibility on par with Mozart or Magma. But the many minutes of not going anywhere in this album - a musical metaphor for the slow and relentlessly repetitive growth in a botanical garden, perhaps? - burdens the actually interesting sections of the album (and there are a few of those where shit gets going) to a level where I just can't bear listening to this album from start to finish. The Botanist himself retells that the choice of hammered dulcimer came out of his origin as a drummer, and it is obvious that the music stems from a more rhythmical mindset than melodical, near martial at times. The chords follow the main beat quite slavishly.
Don't get me wrong - the first three tracks on this album are quite alluring and evocative in their shimmering and mesmerizing atmospheres, and certain sections further on are beautiful. But from there it does not really go anywhere. Which is a shame, since theoretically, this is a deeply fascinating musical entity. The lyrics are beautiful, and the thematic lore behind it both interesting and quite unique. But the 68 minutes could easily have been trimmed down half an hour, not losing anything but gaining punch and relevance. The musical gems are lost - the forest unseen for all the trees, so to speak.
What is interesting is the second CD. This is a double album, where disc 2 consists of remixes and reinterpretations by allies of The Botanist, based on the main album's drum tracks. Shimmering flowery glitch electronica, towering atmospheric post-metal, tree-hugging pagan black metal, acoustic steel-stringed sludge, et c. All in all unfortunately more interesting than the main album, a collection of disparate songs that still create a logical whole. Too bad that the allies eclipse the Botanist himself!" -- aVoid, Avantgarde Metal, September 9, 2012
(original German posting follows)
"Mit 'Doom In Bloom' legt die Doom Metal-Formation Botanist nun ihr neues Album vor, das sich sowohl durch die Wahl seines Sujets als auch die hinter ihm stehende Mythologie deutlich abhebt von den sonst in den einzelnen Metal-Genres abgehandelten Themenkomplexe. Wesentlicher Bestandteil dieses gedanklichen Hintergrunds ist das 'Grüne Reich', in dem der Botanist auf die Selbstauslöschung der Menschheit und die Ankunft des 'Grünen Messias' wartet. Diese Grüne Apokalypse soll der Botanist mit einer von ihm befehligten Alraunenarmee noch beschleunigen. Nüchternen Geistern mag diese in Musik umgesetzte ökofundamentalistische Apokalyptik ein wenig befremdlich erscheinen, für schwärmerisch veranlagte Ökoterroristen hingegen ist sie bestens geeignet, als MP3-Download im iPod mit zur nächsten Baumbesetzung genommen zu werden. Die Texte, teilweise kreischend in der besten Tradition des Black Metal, teilweise eindringlich-flüsternd vorgetragen, kreisen vornehmlich um das Leben der Pflanzen sowie ihm zugrundeliegende biochemische Prozesse und propagieren so eine ganz eigene botanische Mystik. Die atmosphärisch dichten Klanglandschaften, die vor allem auf Keyboards und einem äußerst lebendigen Schlagzeugspiel basieren, wurzeln allerdings mehr im psychedelisch inspirierten Prog Rock als in den Traditionen des Black und Doom Metal. In weiten Passagen kommt die Musik in einer hypnotischen Langsamkeit daher und weckt so Assoziationen an das langsame, aber beharrliche Wachstum von Pflanzen, die nach und nach in die vom Menschen aufgegebenen Gebiete vordringen, um ihre Territorien zurückerobern. So wird 'Doom In Bloom' zur idealen Begleitmusik, um, ganz im Geiste des Unabombers Ted Kaczyinski oder des Anarcho-Primitivisten John Zerzan, auf den Untergang der technischen Zivilisation zu warten und davon zu träumen, wie neue Urwälder über den Ruinen unserer Städten wachsen." -- M. Boss, Black Magazin, July 17, 2012
(English translation by Tobias Hændel)
"With 'Doom in Bloom,' doom metal band Botanist presents its new album, which, due to the choice of its subject as well as the mythology behind it, differs distinctly from the usual topics being dealt with in the individual metal genres. The essential element of this conceptual framework is the 'Verdant Realm,' in which The Botanist awaits the kenosis of mankind and the coming of the 'Verdant Messiah.' This green apocalypse shall be particularly expedited by an army of mandrakes led by The Botanist.
This deep-ecology apocalypticism set to music may seem somewhat strange to mundane spirits, however it is perfect for enthusiastically inclined eco-terrorists to be brought along to a tree sitting as an mp3 download on one's iPod. The lyrics, which are partially performed as screams in the best tradition of black metal and partially as a haunting whisper, are primarily about the life of plants and the biochemical processes underlying them, and thusly propagate their very own botanical mysticism.
The atmospherically dense soundscapes, being particularly based on keyboards and very vivid drumming, are nevertheless rather rooted in psychedelically inspired prog rock than in the traditions of black and doom metal. The music comes along in extended passages as a hypnotic slowness and thus awakens associations of the slow but steady growth of plants, which advances realms abandoned by man to reconquer their territory. In this way, 'Doom in Bloom' becomes the ideal soundtrack to ( in the spirit of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski or the anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan) awaiting the demise of technical civilisation and to dream of new jungles growing on the ruins of our cities." -- M. Boss, Black Magazin, July 17, 2012
CHURCH OF DEVIANCE
"Cagare fuori dal vaso è essenzialmente quanto fatto da The Botanist leader dell'omonima band. Il precedente 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dea'd era un cd maturato con gli anni, uscito nella veste di doppio cd perchè c'era materiale per farlo. Il song writing era molto più fluido e le canzoni si attestavano verso i 2 minuti, salvo rare eccezioni, non mancava l'ispirazione e i momenti melodici erano sempre molto presenti, ottimo l'uso dei Synth tra l'altro.
Questo 'Doom in Bloom' vede appunto una dilatazione delle strutture come il doom prevede, esse hanno affossato il song writing portandolo su lidi poco digeribili e spesso noiosi. 'Doom in Bloom' pecca di inesperienza alla fine dei conti, le idee ci sono ma sono troppo diluite nel contesto generale della canzone, di 'Amanita Virosa' bastava prende i primi 2 minuti e mezzo invece che farla perdura per 8, nonostante alla fine sia una delle meno noiose si sente molto bene come lo scorrere delle idee sia progressivo verso la noia.
1 ora e 54 musica penso sia eccessiva per chiunque e The Botanist non fa niente per farla andare giù, la voglia di fare doom si vede era impellente ma non capisco come si possa cambiare una formula così bella e personale come quella del passato doppio cd.
Comunque... la musica di The Botanist risulta sempre personale e affascinante, peculiare e ricca di lirica colte sulla botanica, termini scientifici e nomenclature latine, cosa che da bravo biologo apprezzo molto. La cosa che non mi convince è questa virata in meno di un anno verso un tripudio di lentezza e pachidermicità devastante. (I haven't the green itch -- 5.5)" -- Church of Deviance, July 31, 2012
(English translation follows)
"Botanist basically blew the envelope to pieces when it released its previous album, 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead,' a CD that had matured with years, released as a double CD because there was enough material to do so. The song writing on those albums was much more fluid and the song lengths, excluding rare exceptions, were around the two-minute mark. The songs were not lacking in inspiration, and the melodic elements were always very present, with excellent usage of synths, amongst others.
This 'Doom in Bloom' just dilutes these structures, as could be expected from going to a doom style, which has ditched the original song writing, bringing it to places that are quite indigestible and often boring. At the end of the day, 'Doom in Bloom''s flaws boil down to inexperience. The ideas are there, but they are too diluted within the general context of the songs – like, you'd be better off taking the first two-and-a-half minutes of 'Amanita Virosa' instead of continuing on through all eight, despite the fact that in the end, that song is one of the least boring on the album (it feels like the flow of ideas progress towards boredom.)
An hour and 54 minutes of music is excessive for anyone, and Botanist doesn't do anything to make that easier to swallow. The will to make it doom was compelling, but I don't understand why you'd want to change such a great and original formula as found on the debut release.
Anyhow, the music of Botanist is as always something original and fascinating, peculiar and with a lyrically rich take on botany, with scientific terms and Latin nomenclature -- elements that, as a good biologist, I appreciate greatly. The part that doesn't convince me is this direction, in less than a year, towards a celebration of slowness and elephantine lumbering of devastating proportions. (Rating: I haven't the green itch -- 5.5)" -- Church of Deviance, July 31, 2012
"Opět další solitér, který aby mohl uskutečnit svoje hudební nápady, zvolil cestu one – man projektu. I když pro jeho avantgardnost se není čemu divit. Myslíte si, že je možné hrát black metal bez kytar? Ne? Tak Botanist vás přesvědčí o tom, že pokud člověk jde za svým cílem s odhodláním, tak lze v dnešní době na hudebním poli spáchat téměř cokoliv.
Botanist pochází z Kalifornie ze San Francisca a jejich vznik se datuje do roku 2009. Jak již název napovídá, tématem textů jsou květiny. Nejedná se však o žádného „Létajícího Čestmíra“ a i když je jejich ústřední postavou vědec, nelze jej přirovnat ani k hraběti von Kratzmar z kultovní komedie „Adéla ještě nevečeřela“. Vědec v podání Botanist žije v dobrovolném exilu obklopen květinami a čeká, až se lidstvo svou aktivitou samo vyhubí. Za zajisté zajímavým textovým konceptem hudební složka nejen že nezaostává, ale dokonce ho, co do originality, ještě převyšuje. Hudbu Botanist tvoří totiž pouze bubny, dulcimer (cimbál) a zpěv (šeptání, skřehot). Dulcimer tak nahrazuje jak kytary, tak i basu. Atmosféra nahrávky je velice zasněná a nejčastěji se nese v poklidném tempu, ovšem umí i zrychlit. Botanist zní díky dulcimeru chvílemi dokonce jako nějaká mnišská kapela z Tibetu. I když se jedná o 2 cd, tak si posluchačovu pozornost dokáže spolehlivě udržet. Zpočátku je to zvědavost, co že to tam ten „maník“ vlastně vytváří (smích), ale postupem času zaujme hlavně svojí kvalitou. Každá píseň má svůj melodický motiv, každá skladba zaujímá v této skládačce svoje místo.
Co říci závěrem? Jedná se zde o nefalšovanou, ryzí avantgardu. Jde vlastně o black metal bez metalu. Ale je to velmi působivé." -- Marek Wágner, Critic Music, July 17, 2012
"Il metallo nero (cd1)
*DOOM IN BLOOD*
C'ha più un cazzo di nero 'sto metallo...
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero ma comincia con un pezzo che sembra scritto dagli Jesu. O Iroah o Fragment, tanto fan tutti la stessa roba.
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero e parla di fiori. Ma anche di funghi di spore omicide e di altre cazzate.
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero ma non c'è manco una chitarra: batteria e dulcimer sono più che sufficienti.
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero e giustamente canta di merda, ma chi se ne frega: sta zitto spesso e volentieri.
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero ma io il metallo nero fatto così non l'avevo mai visto. Neppure nei 'Blut Aus Nord.'
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero e gli piace dire 'avant-garde.' Che non vuol dire nulla, ma certe mode vanno seguite così i bimbi son contenti.
Botanist is a one man band, suona metallo nero ma è dolce come il miele. Poi si stufa e ti piazza pure Allies.
Il metallo nero (cd2)
Chiamati gli alleati Botanist riparte.
E ci sono bassi, chitarre, batterie, ricchi premi e cotillons. C'è elettronica, c'è pissi pissi psiche bau, c'è gente che sa cantare bene il metallo nero e c'è gente che lo canta peggio che mai. C'è: pacchianeria, una sega, un iPhone, una canzone che si intitola Lotus Thief 'Nymphaea Carulea,' delle tastiere, l'ambient, una voce femminile, delle canzoni brutte, delle canzoni eccezionali, parecchia ambizione e un po' di presunzione, melodie orecchiabili, momenti pessimi e apici mai sentiti, qualche cosa di grind, qualche cosa di sinfonico, doom e rock, avant-garde inutile e avant-garde indispensabile; c'è il buio e c'è la luce, tutto e niente. No: tutto e basta.
Otrebor (aka "Botanist", aka "il batterista degli Ophidian Forest") esagera forse, però è strambo forte. (3/?)" -- nes, Debaser, October 16, 2012
"Well Doommantia.Com have sure supplied me with a wierd-ass (sic) album for my writing début for this fine site. Botanist is quite possibly the strangest blackened doom album ever released. If not, it is right up there with the weirdest releases ever unleashed onto the doom buying public. This is basically the work of one man who started as a black metal artist but now has turned his talents over to doom metal of the blackened variety. This is atmospheric black doom but it must be pointed out it doesn't have any traditional elements at all. It is based around just two, maybe three main instruments and none of those is shredding guitar.
Instead you get music made with hammered dulcimer and the guitar work you do hear comes out with completely unexpected parts that is totally unique given that black metal and doom metal isn't renown for its experimental qualities.
The main album 'Doom In Bloom' comes with a companion disc titled 'Allies' so you end up with 115 minutes worth of some of the most original black doom you will ever hear in your lifetime. Musically this is dissonant and threatening while the vocals are pure horror. They are made up of spoken sections, whispered creep-fests, raspy black metal sections and haunting female vocal passages.
Going into a track by track review of this album isn't going to happen because you would really need to write a small novel on each track just to cover the basic elements. While a lot of this is all about ambience and minimalism, the audio destruction this man has created is captivating and brilliant. Even the drumming is unique as it blends standard doom slo-mo plods with burst of frantic blasts of blackened fury. Each track on the main album melts into the next so it plays out like a concept album of sorts. The track that starts all this; 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)' is 13 minutes long but it might as well be timed at 68 minutes because it bleeds into the next which bleeds into the next and so on. The flow of these pieces is majestic and wonderful and while it is a strange album, it is also quite accessible at times.
'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)' is dramatic and full of sorrow and that is one musical angle this album revisits often. The following 'Deathcap' has almost a baroque vibe while being very ugly and violent sounding. If two different vibes isn't enough for you, it changes gears once again for 'Ganoderma Lucidum' which has a twisted space-rock meets black metal vibe going on and that is two genres you don't hear mixed too often. 'Vriesea' is based on military style drumming and there are all kinds of unique stringed wizardry going on in this track. 'Ocimum Sanctum' is one of the most hypnotic black-doom songs you will ever hear that literally sets you mind off floating into another world. Despite being over 12 minutes long, the dream-like state that this piece puts you in is deeply rewarding and relaxing. Just like snapping out of long meditative trance, the next track 'Amanita Virosa' awakens the atmosphere with the closest thing to traditional black metal although it is still slow by most black metal bands standards. As the track builds, it becomes ever increasingly bleak which provides the perfect lead into 'Panax' which closes the first disc. This track takes the album back to where it all started with a sorrowful, depressive vibe.
This leads me to the companion disc 'Allies' and in many respects, everything just gets more weird and wonderful. This disc is a collection of this mans leftover works, the name of this guy is Otrebor by the way. There are seven songs and each track has a completely different line-up so the feels are constantly changing but remarkably it still plays out like a very concise piece of work. The brilliantly titled 'The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid' starts and ends the disc with a two-part ambient freak-out track. Apparently all the tracks on this companion disc come from the bands Matrushka, Cult Of Linnaeus, Ophidian Forest, Arborist, Lotus Thief and Bestiary; none of which I have ever heard before but I have been told, these versions are nothing like the originals. 'The War of All Against All' is pure black-doom, nothing more, nothing less but delivered in a very original fashion. After this track however, the highlights seem to dry up except for some great guitar work in one track titled 'Nymphaea Carulea.'
This album comes out on the Total Rust label which really seem to be leading the pack in unique and original bands. Botanist still wont be for everyone, their apocalyptic visions are almost TOO unique for the average listener but littered in-between all these challenging, ambient bleak pieces are moments of very assessable (sic) music. It treads a fine line between being overly ambitious and too strange for its own good at times but overall, this is one of the most interesting releases ever put out there. The album demands some attention and is unlikely to blow you away on the first spin but give it time and you will be hooked by this release.....9/10." -- Doomm@niac, Doomantia, June 24, 2012
"The debut release from Botanist was forty extremely short songs that sounded like mid-paced to fast black metal with the clanging, plonking resonance of the dulcimer in the place of any guitars. The band's sole member, Otrebor, or "The Botanist," accompanied these with some pictures of flowers. This time around the horticultural fixation remains but its manifestation has shifted to seven sprawling blackened doom songs.
This album, the band's second, is called III. But the debut was in two parts, so it makes sense, like most things about Botanist if you pay close attention. For example, my take on all this seemingly random guff about some kind of arboretum-resembling post-apocalypse is that its not all that inappropriate or ideologically different from your standard Black Metal. After all, when the labours of man have been incinerated, nature will crawl back across the ash-strewn remnants of our buildings and roads without a shred of remorse or regret. That's right, this isn't a pleasant record just because it's all about flowers, and it isn't much like the last one either.
The good thing for this guy is that he will always be the Nutjob Who Records With A Dulcimer, so he can shift up the pacing and genre alignment of his musical projects while being confident they will compliment each other. I reckon this here, this left-field approximation of doom metal, is the sound for Botanist. Things have enough time to evolve and build throughout the songs and in general the album just has more of an impact. Perhaps this fellow realized that with an instrument that doesn't benefit from the same immediateness the guitar has, he needed some more space to work and a whole lot more focus to boot. If so, fucken right. The longer song lengths, slower tempos and repetitiveness inherent in Doom fit the hypnotic capabilities of this main instrument far better. Just look at the two parts of 'RhododenDoom': the first, on the debut, is a fairly average couple of minutes of experimental music; the second, a mammoth of unprecedentedly efficacious avant-garde drone.
It's called 'Quoth Azalea, The Demon' to be precise, it kicks off the album with its 13+ minutes, and it is delicious. You would think you are listening to pianos, the way the dulcimer thumps weightily alongside the crashing percussion and by turns whispering and chanting vocals. If this were realized in "full-band" form it would undoubtedly be one of the most annihilating Doom songs you heard this year. Meanwhile 'Deathcap' builds in the sort of licks that would usually represent the heartbreaking melodies of a Warning or 40 Watt Sun etc record, sewing emotional climaxes into a previously bleak creation. Remarkable shit once you start picking it all apart.
Very slow material throughout, but that is not the only thing that earns the "Doom" tag that has become recently attached to the band. Gently crashing snares, the much lazier or ponderous mood, it sounds at times like a guitar-less Reverend Bizarre, other times a guitar-less Suma. Listening to the end of 'Quoth Azalea', I was certainly reminded of songs from the Rev's III: So Long Suckers. 'Vriesea' on the other hand is an example that couldn't really work with guitars, maybe it is the fact that it comes as the album's centrepiece and at the height of listener absorption, but this stunning slice of doom psychedelia needs Botanist's particular, oddly chosen instrumentation to work. Thus proving the man's choices more than simply a gimmick, which it would be easy to think they are. 'Ocimum Sanctum' and 'Panax' are simply huge, and you need em loud - if, that is, you have been as drawn into the record as I have become by the time these begin
So if you listen, you can hear where the riffs are, or where they are supposed to be and a few seconds imagining what it would be like using the guitar helps to appreciate what is going on better. It's just that the dulcimer doesn't afford the same heaviness or cadence as an electric guitar, so there is a lot more "empty space" in the tracks that would normally be filled with feedback and distortion. With that spacious sound in mind the mix deserves a mention - the drums sound fantastic, not just in their sparing precision but for the crisp, cutting sound which adds a bellyful of heavy to the proceedings. The Botanist's occasional Mortuus-like rasps maintains the record's only orthodox Black Metal element on the first disc, and aptly grating it sounds.
III: Doom In Bloom is terrifically hypnotic, magnificently divisive, eccentrically innovative and enjoyably heavy, and replays are irresistible. The record is one of those fuckers that you just don't expect to come along and bowl you over, but bowl you over it does. Then fills the bowl with hash and other resin-like substances that, given The Botanist's lyrical content, are probably best left alone.
Yer second disc, Allies, comprises seven more songs which are variously along more familiar lines. The idea being that Otrebor's inner circle re-interpret his songs (though using only the drum tracks from those songs rather than any other compositional or instrumental element). Certainly the Blackened Doom song by Cult of Linnaeu (sic), 'The War Of All Against All', crushes absolutely, while Bestiary serve up a heavy as hell Doom epic with some girly vox. Ophidian Forest offer something like a Burzum worshipping Doom cut and Arborist go a bit more sludge then fuck off into utterly stoned vistas of sound by the end. Lotus Thief's track is probably the best, utterly beautiful, distorted stoner rock. I have to say this all makes the record even better value if you dig this sort of stuff - one album of extremely experimental, hypnotic stuff, and one sort of compilation of weird-ass but killer bands, in one package.
If you could handle a further unhinged take on Tiamat's Wildhoney and A Deeper Kind of Slumber, if you dig the kantele meanderings of Nest, or are accustomed to regularly spinning any number of bleakly avant-garde bands of the French and American variety, this could very well become your favourite release this year... or maybe just still not click. It's just like that. The fella behind this band has certainly ensured I'll be keeping tuned in to his future leafy escapades." Jon Cheetham, Doom-Metal.com, August 11, 2012
DON'T COUNT ON IT REVIEWS
"Last year Botanist released one of the most interesting and polarizing releases of 2010. The double-album of hammered dulcimer, drums, and vocals performed black metal was easily one of the most original concepts for a band in a long while but it also had the songwriting to back up the idea. Though some found it hokey and didn't like the idea, I was very much into it and was definitely looking forward to this album.
Even though the debut from Botanist was a sort of musical revelation in the black metal genre, I'm pretty sure that this second album would move into a more doom oriented direction. With both longer tracks and more of a focus on building atmospheres it was obvious that it would take more than luck to create another great album. In all honesty, the debut, while enjoyable, was a little spotty due to some tracks being so short they barely made any impact, and it did harm my overall enjoyment of the album. In the case for this album, with every track being stretched out over the six minute mark, you really have to come into this expecting an experience and be prepared to either go with the flow of the album or just fight against the entire idea of the project. Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II) is an absolutely beautiful opening track that manages to recall the majesty of a band like My Dying Bride while never in the slightest sounding anywhere close to their sound. If you can't get past that opener, I think that you should stop listening there, it doesn't get any easier after that track.
What follows is a far more varied album than I would have expected from the project, which I really have to give a lot of credit to the mainman Botanist. While most of the album is firmly rooted in doom, there is still a clear sense of black metal in there, coming through at choice spots of intensity. Which brings me to my next point, which is while the music itself, on any of the albums the project has released thus far, may be metal based, it is rather hard to say that the music is "intense" or "brutal" or even "aggressive" for that matter. It's been a project that can crank out well crafted melodies, slow or fast, but one can really only feel any sort of intensity coming through in the percussion, which I didn't get all that much from the debut(s) but actually got more often on here, an album which is far more tranquil and somber than its predecessor(s) were. As can be assumed as well, the music on here is far more spacious as well, with a lot of moments falling into silence, or near silence, which adds a great sense of dynamics to the record, hear Ganoderma Lucidum. As a whole, the entire record proves to be not only an improvement on every level from the debut(s) but also a step into a new direction.
Then we have the second disc titled Allies, which features a nice little assortment of artists taking the drum tracks from the original album and do their own interpretation over them. Compared to the standard album, this compilation (I guess you could call it) is more of a mixed bag. Stylistically, it's at least kept in a similar ballpark as the album, for the most part, with the majority of the bands on here either delivering some variation on doom metal or you have the other side who take it into almost complete ambient territory. The one that deviates from that standard is Ophidian Forest who take their track into more of an atmospheric black metal direction, and do it quite well I might add. Of all the collaborators though, I think that Arborist wind up delivering the best track. It's sort of a mix between really raw doom metal, country music, and I'd say just a hint of shoegaze as well (but that might just be me). While I didn't dislike any of the tracks, there were some that I did find to be a bit more dull than others.
Because this is essentially two different albums I feel like I kind of have to give each album a score. Personally, and this shouldn't come as any surprise, I do think the "real" album is superior to the reinterpretations the other artists give (most of which I've never even heard of) but both are well done. Both albums are well worth looking into, delivering what is probably the strongest doom metal album I've heard this year.
Overall Score: 9/7.5
Highlights: III: Doom In Bloom: Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II), Deathcap, Ocimum Sanctum
Allies: Ophidian Forest - Cordyceps, Arborist - Total Entarchy, Lotus Thief - Nymphaea Carulea." -- Ian Flick, Don't Count on It Reviews, June 29, 2012
"The Botanist has returned with a new album and a new view on songwriting. While the first two records from the project were filled with short bursts of hammered-dulcimer, drums, and vocal performed black metal, this new full-length stretched things out a whole lot till it because a doom metal record. Possibly the most original take on doom metal I've heard in quite some time actually and yet it never came off a phony or like a joke, but an honest portrayal of someone making a record that is unique and interesting. I didn't find Allies quite as engaging as III: Doom In Bloom but it was a set of interesting ideas." -- Ian Flick, Don't Count on It Reviews' Top 50 Albums of 2012 (#30), December 31, 2012)
FULL METAL ATTORNEY
"III: Doom in Bloom has been billed as Botanist's doom record. At this point, it's more of a stretch than ever to call Botanist a metal band--it's as much Mamiffer as Master's Hammer. And I hesitate to call anything doom if it's not actually heavy. But it could still fall at the outer reaches of the avant-garde black metal spectrum.
This time around, instead of 40 punchy, fast 1-2 minute songs, there are 7 sprawling cuts of 6-13 minutes apiece. The single disc is nearly as long as the double-disc debut. There are some who complained that Tree/Rose didn’t fully explore any of the ideas presented, so for those people, Bloom solves that problem handily.
There are parts that sound much like its predecessor, but if the two records used traditional metal instrumentation, you wouldn't recognize it as the work of the same band. The buzzing, unnervingly-out-of-tune dulcimer is the only thing that obviously ties them together. Bloom is slower, moodier, and sometimes trance-inducing. The most important difference is how richly textured and dynamic it is. New instruments make their presence known. Opener 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)' features piano and chanted background vocals. "Vriesea" has an organ of some variety. And 'Panax' features a distant cousin of the dulcimer, some other kind of melodic percussion instrument (more akin to a xylophone, where planks are struck rather than strings). The tempos range much more broadly, and the vocals are as likely to whisper as to screech. But there are even more subtle dynamics at play, as you might notice in the transition from the opener’s haunting style to the much more emphatic playing of 'Deathcap.'
The result is that Doom in Bloom is even better than A Rose from the Dead. A masterpiece.
It comes packaged with a second disc, called Allies. I've barely touched that one so far, but it uses drums from Bloom in collaboration with other metal musicians to make examples of dark ambient, Viking metal, doom metal, and more. My clear favorite is Arborist's 'Total Entarchy,' which starts on some very strange dark Americana and then goes on to combine it with doom metal. The disc is not a cohesive whole, despite the attempt at making it one through the first and last tracks, but it has a lot of very different ideas that are each interesting in their own right.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review before I noticed this, but I was thanked by name in the liner notes, presumably because of things I wrote about the first record. The Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars." -- Kelly Hoffart, Full Metal Attorney, June 29, 2012
HAMMER SMASHED SOUND
"I know a lot of people were initially enamored with Botanist when the first album, I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead came out, and I will admit that said double album did have it's moments, but something about it never clicked with me as well as I felt it probably should have. Given the unique sound and creative originality of Botanist (metal-oriented music made with the hammered dulcimer, among other instruments, and conceptually approached from the point of view of The Botanist, a scientist who lives in seclusion, far from man and his crimes against nature, waiting for the day that humans die off or kill one another off, when the Earth will once again be the kingdom of the Plants, making everything green again), I guess I felt like I would enjoy it more than I did. Perhaps the blame is my own, because when I find myself listening to it now, I am intrigued and quite honestly, rather mystified by the experience. I've found that the music of Botanist must be an integrated experience, and is best experienced with art and lyrics in hand, away from the humdrum of our modern lives.
Be that as it may, the second Botanist album is now upon us, and as I've spent most of my morning taking this one in, it's spoken to me immediately. There is something very majestic about this album, titled III: Doom in Bloom (which comes with a companion disc called Allies), and as I don't have much more time to devote to this post, I will leave it at that. This album features art from the incomparable M.S. Waldron (irr. app. (ext.), Nurse With Wound, etc.). You can stream it, and purchase the download and/or double CD here. The lyrics, which are an essential part of the eerie Botanist experience, are also posted there.
Do yourself a a favor and make time in your busy life to check out both of Botanist's works; they deserve any and all attention that they get. When guitar-driven metal bores you, you can take refuge in Botanist. For more information, I point you in the direction of an interview than Nathan T. Birk of Zero Tolerance did, that was posted on The Inarguable at the end of last year." -- Krumbled Kookie, Hammer Smashed Sound, May 25, 2012
"Make damn sure y’all look out for DOOM IN BLOOM, the mighty third album from Botanist. Released on Israel’s Total Rust label, this isn’t Doom Metal at all, but a heretical strain that escaped and hid (in some Medieval monastery by the sounds of it) until the pogrom had abated. However, its canny combination of hammer dulcimer and fucking massive drums is so unique, so horribly more-ish that some Wyrd atavistic tendency is set up in the listener from start to finish. Big themes hammer away in what sound like Zeusian caverns, running the gamut of alternative possibilities from Post-Punk to pure metal via TV themes and bible throwing contests. Whew! But the sheer novelty, nay, exhilarating novelty of DOOM IN BLOOM is enough to carry this album from start-to-finish. Replete with horticultural song titles and lyrics, Botanist is the work of a most thorough motherfucker. Score your own copy and you’ll be pirouetting around your mead hall in no time, know-worra-mean!" -- Julian Cope, Head Heritage, September 2, 2012
"It’s been a while since I’ve heard something in the realm of black metal that’s excited me. While dark ambient and noise has had its day in the sun, much of the genre’s experimental faction has soured. The only two things I’ve heard as of late that have given me pause are Xasthur’s Portal of Sorrow and Botanist’s III: Doom in Bloom. It should be noted right off the bat that the latter album is a two-disc showing. The second disc is entitled Allies and simply takes the drum tracks from III: Doom in Bloom and allows other bands to make songs over them. It’s awful in its range of doom metal and shoegaze black metal. And it’s not Botanist. Therefore, I’m going to ignore Allies completely in this review and focus on the infinitely more beautiful flowering bud of wrath that is III: Doom in Bloom.
What strikes me as fresh with the aforementioned albums – Portal of Sorrow and III: Doom in Bloom – is their dedication to folk. Xasthur famously brought on freak folker Marissa Nadler to guest on tracks highlighting violins and detuned pianos. But with Botanist, the dedication to the acoustic is extreme. Most famously, the artist primarily uses drums, vocals, and a hammered dulcimer. The stylistic result from the choice of instruments sounds something akin to post-rock. And by post-rock, I refer to the likes of Mogwai, Arcade Fire, Godspeed, etc. But with blackened howls overtop of it. Yes, there are epic swells and uplifting melodies throughout this black metal. Yet, all of it remains uncompromising, intense, and pure rather than contradictory and jarring. Instead of sounds that are hollow and mindless like an Agalloch album, the music captures both your heart and your intellectual faculty of understanding.
Lyrically and conceptually, III: Doom in Bloom also has a strong foundation. From interviews, one can gather that there is supposed to be a literal doom within the bloom. The album is meant to portray a demon, Azalea, instructing a botanist on how to bring about a green, bio-apocalypse (Krasman). The whispered parts in each song are further instructions for the botanist. Of course, the cheeky characters here are probably more figurative (Krasman). A demon will probably not speak in the ear of a scientist and tell them to end the world. Instead, our science has most likely reached a point of entropy where the biosphere will hit back and replace our species. The demon is just a nice black meal motif.
What I perhaps love best about the piece is the connotations it gives me. Music is always best for me when I can get lost in its ethos, its image, its zeitgeist, its sense of belonging and purpose. And when I can feel that draw. III: Doom in Bloom not only makes me want to pick up a guitar – an acoustic one, of course – and attempt to make weird metal, but it makes me wonder what others into Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Xasthur as well as Botanist will build. And what would that microgenre’s face be? Would it be obsessed with organic sounds, eco fascism, and the apocalypse as Botanist is? Would it be primarily concerned with the decay of a rotting building and empty caskets if one takes the path of Xasthur? Will it be unopposed to popularity, winter, depression, and the revitalization of nature as is Agalloch? Will it embrace communalism with Wolves in the Throne Room? All of these cliché rhetorical questions give me a lot of hope for experimental black metal, for its inevitable loss of anything grim while turning into something far more serious. (5/5)" -- Pomo Brian, Heathen Harvest, October 19, 2012
HEAVY BLOG IS HEAVY
"I’m not entirely sure how many people are stoked about the upcoming release by one-man avant-garde black metal artist Otrebor, better known as Botanist. He released the absolutely spectacular double album I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose From the Dead in the middle of last year,and the damn thing was so good it was #5 on my top 21 list of last year.
Well, turns out fans won’t have to wait much longer to hear the new album! Mead Meat Metal have premiered a track from the upcoming album III: Doom in Bloom, entitled ‘Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)‘. The track marks a complete 180-degree turn in terms of sound. He has switched from the black metal used in I/II to a type of doom. The strange instrumentation remains (hammered dulcimer, drumset, vocals), but other than that, it’s almost a different band.
However, don’t let that stop you from listening if you were a fan of the last album. It is the best song he has ever released. The track is hauntingly emotional, brilliantly arranged, and sounds absolutely perfect in terms of production quality. The track is also a touch over thirteen minutes long, which is a drastic change over the previous releases, where the longest track was in the five minute range. Something that some people may love is that the vocals have changed drastically. Gone are the croaky vocals, and in its place are reverberated whispered vocals that augment the track greatly.
I’m not sure when there will be a release date for the album, but you can bet your ass I’ll be all over it when it releases." -- Gunnar Ratliff, Heavy Blog Is Heavy, April 13, 2012
HELLRIDE MUSIC FORUMS
"While Total Rust Music is known for releasing some far out, offbeat albums; the one man, ambient blackened doom metal project from San Francisco, California dubbed Botanist takes the whole concept of 'weird' and makes it even fucking weirder. First off, guitar and icy tremolo picking aren’t anywhere to be found on the band’s second (the first one was a 2 disc album, that’s why this one is labeled III) and latest release,III: Doom in Bloom. Nope, replacing your traditional, viscous axe shredder-y is the torrential shower of audio shards produced by a hammered dulcimer. Standard drumming shifts between doom-y plod/hurried blasts and whispered/rasped vocals aside, the sound produced on this album isn’t the usual “slaying wolves in the forest of night” type of stuff heard in the genre, instead, the journey on hand is one of wandering through an empty palace made entirely of crystal with mirrored floors and halls to boot. This is shimmering, progressive extreme music with a very intense and melancholic atmosphere about it, earning more than a few points for utilizing an original concept even if I don’t know how many repeat listens the album will garner...at least until things get a bit colder and grayer out that is.
Reviewing black metal albums track by track isn’t my strong suit. It has to grab me pretty thoroughly like that Obsidian Tongue release or Total Rust’s Hyadningar to get me to try and attempt such a feat of strength. The problem I have with Botanist is that the music, though eerie, offhand, and melodically intriguing, often tends to blend from song to song. The tingling ambience of the dulcimer really does make for some great, cascading lurches though, that are especially felt on a track like 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)' which sounds like the hushed minimalism and soothing soundscape collages of Agalloch meets Jesu with a dark, breathy spoken vocal accompaniment bubbling beneath the brittle spires of eathern dulcimer chords, and the stringed Appalachian instrument proves capable of adding a starlit twinkle to what could be traditional snarl tactics on the speed infested, 'Amanita Virosa.' So, it’s not out of the question that the intricate audio surges do manage to catch ahold of the brain and find a worthwhile, memorable, and individualistic element, but the album and some of its consistently slower tracks tend to blur into one another as the seconds tick by. That’s not say that this isn’t superb listening for the right moment, or when you need to sink into thought while getting work done in your office setup of choice…but let it be noted that the mood is quite selective with this one. This surely isn’t the kind of thing I’ll want to hear blaring all summer. On the contrary, I’ll probably get more mileage out of this album whenever winter rolls around. The second disc, Allies features a variety of bands that are friends of The Botanist who take the drum tracks from III, and totally revise the songs. There’s some pretty cool stuff here, most particularly Lotus Thief’s 'Nymphaea Carulea' which is an alternate reality of 'Ocimum Sanctum,' featuring progressive, hook-laden and rocked-out 70s guitar leads, electronic sprinkles, feral speed bursts, doom-y bluesy low-end, and haunting female vocals; a song that I might enjoy more than anything off of the first disc.
I don’t want anyone to think I’m trashing Botanist’s III. Though it isn’t the kind of record I’ll be playing every single day, I actually believe it has got a lot of merit for the black metal faithful out there. It’s good to hear someone not just doing the same old shit with the genre, and the first disc is an atmospheric journey if there ever was one. The second disc tacks on a lot of value in itself (like I said that Lotus Thief tune smokes) with a lot of the other artists taking the drum masters and making something completely different out of them. Sometimes things get a little too blended and smeared together from song to song on the first half (though I’m sure the intent was to create a flowing, cohesive front to back experience, and for the most part it works out with a couple of real standout sections and a bit of filler-like meandering), but no matter what, I oftentimes found myself getting sucked into the gleaming void of the audio vortexes created here. I’ll throw this in the recommended pile for black metal fans who like more than just blasting and razorblade lacerated, screaming. I’m sure I’ll jam this again, as it's a really one of a kind experience…I just might wait till the leaves change, that’s all!" -- Jay Snider, Hellride Music Forums, June 22, 2012
"Vuonna 2009 perustettu Botanist on varsinainen kummajainen omiensa joukossa. Bändi mehustaa musikaalisia ideoita black metalin puolelta, lyyriset ja muut tyyliseikat luonnosta ja lopulta vatkaa näistä aineksista eräänlaista kokeellista doomia. Nyt tämän Kalifornian oma luontosooloartisti on siirtynyt toiseen julkaisuunsa, joka on samalla yhtyeen toinen täyspitkä - ensimmäisen ja toisen ollessa epätavallinen kaksoislevytys.
III: Doom in Bloom on nimensä mukaisesti taiteilija The Botanistin kolmas kokopitkä ja edeltäjänsä lailla tämäkin paketti on tuplalevy. Edellisestä poiketen tuplan ykköslevy on artistin itsensä kädenjälkeä ja kakkoslevy taas ykköskiekon rumpuraitojen päälle vedettyjä vierailevien tähtien tuotoksia. Kuulostaako sekavalta? Ei huolta, sellaista jälki paikoitellen onkin.
Jos arvion käsittely aloitetaan levyn heikommasta annista, voidaan katse siirtää suoraan toisena tulevaan Allies-levyyn. Sisältönä on ykköslevyn lailla seitsemän raitaa hidatempoista vellomista, milloin doomahtaen, milloin kokeellisesti luontoteemaisia blackmetalmaisuuksia mukaillen. Kiekolla esiintyvästä kuudesta artistista - Matrushkan hoitaessa sekä ensimmäisen että viimeisen raidan - yksikään ei kykene nousemaan kiinnostavalle tasolle. Tulkinnat ovat tasolla ihan jees ja melkoista paskaa. Pahimmasta esimerkistä käynee Arboristin särinäinen ristiriitainen tulkinta, joka on puoliksi raakaa ja puoliksi herkkää. Yhdellä sanalla sanoen: kuraa.
Levykaksikon pääteos, Botanistin oma anti, on astetta tai kahta parempaa ja sanan varsinaisessa merkityksessä kokeellista doomia, tai doom/blackia, riippuen mistä kulmasta asiaa haluaa lähestyä. Biisit ovat kautta linjan pitkiä ja paikoin suorastaan pitkästyttävän pitkävetisiä. Mutta jotain kiinnostavaa sävellystyössä on, eikä vähiten runsaasti käytetyn dulcimer-soittimen ansiosta, joka myös pianon edeltäjäksi lasketaan. Tämä aasialainen soitin muistuttaa ääneltään kuin outoa pianoa ja siihen ynnättynä muut soittimet saavat veikeän lisäsävyn, joka tekee Botanistista juurikin itsensä kuuloisen.
Biisit ovat hitaammanpuoleisia ja samalla varsin omalaatuisia. Mielenkiintoisuus voisi olla korkeammallakin, mutta tässä kappaleiden pituus käy itseään vastaan. Osa sävellystöistä on vain liian pitkiä ja sitä kautta tylsyyteen päin puskevia. Soundit eivät suurempaa ajatusta herätä suuntaan jos toiseenkaan, kun taas raaka rääkylaulu on ihan onnistunutta. Ei ehkä parhaiten istuvaa tämän sortin antiin, mutta sarallaan sentään ihan hyvin luovittua.
III: Doom in Bloom on eittämättä epätavallinen levytys ja pisteitä täytyykin antaa ihan jo luovasta ajattelusta, joka uskaltaa - anglismia mukaillen - ajatella myös sen kuuluisan laatikon ulkopuolella. Harmi, ettei tästä kaavasta ole saatu läheskään kaikkea mahdollista irti. Potentiaalia kun olisi varmasti ollut paljon enempäänkin. Arvosanamielessä levyn kakkososaa voi pitää pelkkänä ilmana. Jos sille kuitenkin olisi pakko antaa oman numeronsa, voisi arvosanasta pudottaa helposti pari yksikköä pois. (7/10)" -- Serpent, Imperiumi, August 22, 2012
"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." -- Jon Rosenthal, The Inarguable, October 2, 2012
"Now that hammered dulcimer black metal is a legitimate thing that has been done and not just a sick joke, Botanist is back with a third volume of morbid floristry: III: Doom in Bloom. Apt title, as the tempo drops and songs finally crystallize into something listenable. Might rule hard." -- Aaron Lariviere, Invisible Oranges, April 9, 2012
"Last year, Botanist kind of popped up out on nowhere with his debut double-album of extremely experimental black metal, surprising and impressing the absolute hell out of me. The idea of plant-themed black metal composed with only vocals, drums, and a hammer dulcimer was not only intriguing, but surprisingly effective. Botanist's fast-paced, chaotic songs were like nothing I'd ever heard, and honestly, they still are. However, with 40 songs of almost impenetrable intensity, it was nothing if not a difficult album to get through. This year, his follow up has taken a surprisingly different approach, and the change of pace is wildly successful. By slowing down and stretching out his songs, Botanist has managed to take his unique dulcimer-based black metal and changed it from an interesting experiment to an emotionally nuanced, and powerfully expansive work of art. The slower, longer song structure allows him to create memorable melodies and explore emotions and atmosphere simply not possible on previous efforts, and the raw power driving Doom In Bloom is something to be commended on every front. Top tracks: Deathcap; Ganoderma Lucidum." -- Max, Kvlt Blogspot's Top 100 Albums of 2012 (#91), December 22, 1012
"Kokeiluluontontoista doomia kukista.
Jenkkilästä kotoisin oleva, yhden miehen yhtye Botanist on julkaissut toisen eepoksensa, joka kantaa nimeä 'Doom In Bloom.' Ja kyllä, kaikki levyn biisit kertovat kukista. Ensimmäinen levy seilaili black metallin synkillä valtamerillä, mutta nykyään genremääritelmä on hämäävästi 'experimental doom.'
Kokeiluluontontoista doomia, todellakin. Biisit ovat pitkiä ja hämääviä, ehkä hieman liiankin, ja soittimia on käytetty aina triangelista erilaisiin rumpuihin ja viuluun. 'The Botanist' -taiteilijanimeä käyttävän herran laulutekniikka vaihtelee; osa kappaleista 'lauletaan' kuiskaten. Myös black metallille tyypillistä murinalaulua kuulee, ja se mielestäni toimii oikein hyvin, vaikka toisaalta akustiseen musiikkiin se ei aina sovikkaan.
Botanist saa aikaan rennon tunnelman, se on samaan aikaan hallittu että kaoottinen. En kuitenkaan näe yhtään selvää valonpilkahdusta kappaleissa, kaikki toistavat toisiaan ja välillä ei edes huomaa vaihtuiko kappale vai ei. Rumpuosuudet loistavat erossa muista soittimista, ja laulajan ääni on hyvin erikoinen. Parhaaksi kappaleeksi nousee Deathcap kovilla laulusuorituksillaan.
Botanistin kolmas ei anna aihetta kovin suureen iloon, se on kyllä kokeellista ja doomia, mutta kumpikaan niistä ei mielestäni toimi. Eikä kukka-teema oikein sovi tämänkaltaiseen genreen. Seuraavalle levylle akustinen meno pois, ja enemmän black metallille tyypillisiä piirteitä kehiin, kiitos.
Ehkä en ole doom-ihminen. (2/5)" -- Matti Heikkilä, Lammas Zine, August 20, 2012
"There’s a debate to be had about the continued usefulness of the term ‘black metal’ and whether or not it’s become something of an empty signifier, both in terms of some notion of a unified field theory, and on the more simple level of sonic descriptiveness. In truth, though, away from the rabid fancies of the kvlt-ists there has always been those who are willing to take the sacred template and run into the glacial forests with it. And for a good while now the black metal underground has been alive with acts doing strange and wonderful things, and 2012 is proving to be something of a golden year.
Enter the Botanist. It is a such a ridiculously, well, fertile creation it’s hard to know where to begin in describing it. The Botanist (singular) plays what is loosely black metal, he plays it entirely on drums and hammered dulcimer. He inhabits ‘The Verdant Realm’ where he surrounds himself in flora and awaits the coming apocalypse. The Botanist receives incantations from Azalea, the Satan of the verdant realm, from which he works up plans to speed up the downfall of man and the coming of the budding dawn. His work is a form of mystical eco-terrorism, creating hypersigils in form of music and text with which he seeks to hasten the apocalypse. He comes on like a cross between Wodwo, manifestation of the forest, and an avatar of that archetypal black metal figure, (minus the hammy anti-Christianity): pagan, cut off, hidden and possessed by the ancient spirits of the forest. But there is also something closer to the ideals of Ted Kaczynski at work here (albeit without the threat of actual violence) – man blundering and beyond salvation, subservient to technology, blindly destroying the planet, needing to be stopped…
But uberous concept aside (and the artwork by MS Waldron only adds to this: it’s strange and glorious), is what Botanist is doing musically worth attending to? And it’s pretty much an emphatic yes. On earlier records (I: The Suicide Tree and II: A Rose From the Dead) there was a real lo-fi oddness about the sound, coming on at times like a more vaudeville Macabre; but on III: Doom In Bloom, the production is cavernous and broad, the drums and dulcimer combining in an almost glassy piano-like throb that reverberates cleanly in the ear canal. This vast created space gives room for the vocals to swirl and coalsesce, by turns pitch-black, vomited or backgrounded and whispered, swirling like fog. On the 13-minute ‘Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II)’ the pace moves from the album’s signature doom-laden crawl to a not-unlike Godspeed semi-crescendo at the mid-point, Botanist grakking out his floral manifesto:
‘I am yours, pentatheric master
Your germination is my task
May your red plantae legions
Sow the seed of the Budding Dawn
Tearing down the human presence
Uprooting their destructive ways
Your dominion will I engineer
May flora again reign supreme’
At its close, the track retreats into a kind of sinister sylvan calm, the dulcimer again coming closest to its glacial pianistic resting point. This gives way to ‘Deathcap’ more atonal and doom-laden, the lyrics veering closer to a notion of metamporphosis and symbiosis, the subject losing itself inside the toxins and eventual renal failure and death. These twin themes come to dominate the album, and in truth the template comes to be a fairly simple one. In terms of precedent of the sound, you might think of the cleaner moments of Xasthur, or the more military-minded Earth of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull but it’s pretty much out there on its own, and lyrically? It’s definitely out there on its own, with a track like ‘Vriesea’ little more than a delineation of a epiphytic plant family inside of which certain breeds of frog have been known to live out there entire life cycles.
There’s a second CD of recreations and remixes courtesy of friends and several former associates of the Botanist, based around drum patterns imagined and discarded during the recording process of III: Doom in Bloom. These run from darkly atmospheric (‘Matrushka’) to the more symphonic ‘Cordyceps’ by former bandmates Ophidian Forest, to the almost chamber-black metal of Arborist’s ‘Total Entarchy’ (featuring what could be a theremin, or might be a headless, screaming geranium). These tracks flesh out the thesis and in my mind should be seen as an almost entirely separate project so as not to detract from the oddness and purity of what the Botanist is trying to achieve.
Is it black metal? I suppose formally and technically it probably isn’t – it’s too spacious, too resonant; but on some other thematic level it simply is black metal, or at the very least a close genetic relative. It’s also daft and brilliant. Fly agaric anyone?" -- Matt Poacher, The Liminal, August 9, 2012
LORDS OF METAL
(original Dutch posting)
"Botanist speelt metal zonder gitaren. Is dat eigenlijk wel mogelijk vraag ik me af? In plaats van gitaren gebruiken ze de hammered dulcimer, maar ze laten het niet klinken als een gitaar, dus het is geen gimmick. 'III: Doom In Bloom' is trage, broeiende, hypnotische en psychedelische muziek. Het is zeer experimenteel van aard en doom metal is wellicht de basis, maar het is vervormd tot iets wonderbaarlijks en fascinerends. De riffs gespeeld op de dulcimer klinken zeer griezelig juist vanwege dit instrument en dit is zeker een interessante benadering voor metal. Inbegrepen is een andere schijf genaamd: 'IV: Allies', waarop bevriende groepen hun eigen draai aan het materiaal van Botanist hebben gegeven en is een leuke bonus, maar niet helemaal op het niveau van Botanist zelf. Als u behoefte aan iets doomy, experimenteels, raar maar duistere en unieke muziek, neem een risico en zoek dit album op. Traditionalisten raad ik aan hiervan weg te blijven. (73/100)" -- Roel de Haan, Lords of Metal, September 1, 2012
Botanist plays metal without guitars. Is that even possible I wonder? Instead of guitars they use the hammered dulcimer, but they don’t make it sound like a guitar, so it is not a gimmick. ‘III: Doom In Bloom’ is slow, brooding, hypnotic and psychedelic music. It is very experimental in nature and doom metal may be the foundation, but it is distorted into something wondrous and fascinating. The riffs played on the dulcimer sound very eerie because of its respective instrument and is surely an interesting approach to metal. Included is another disc called: ‘IV: Allies’ on which befriended groups have their own take on the material of Botanist and is a nice bonus, but not quite on par with Botanist themselves. If you are in need for something doomy, experimental, weird but dark and unique, take a chance and look up this album. Traditionalists, I advise you to stay away. (73/100)" -- Roel de Haan, Lords of Metal, September 1, 2012
LOUDER THAN WAR
(from Louder Than War's Top 200 Albums of the Year, 2012)
98. Botanist ‘III’
More songs about plants from dulcimer driven master of solo black metal recorded in a forest. Genius stuff with all song titles being latin names for plants. The songs of Botanist are told from the perspective of The Botanist, a crazed man of science who lives in self-imposed exile, as far away from Humanity and its crimes against Nature as possible.
MEAT MEAD METAL
"One of the challenging things about writing about music is that people often ask what certain bands sound like. 'What does your shirt say? Ahab? What do they sound like?' And I’m always really bad at answering. 'Uh, like really slow doom but it feels like you’re listening to it at the bottom of the ocean.' Blank stares, blinking, I’ve seen it all. That’s not even a hard band to describe; yet it takes me forever. You wonder why it takes me 1,000 words to describe albums.
But anyway, there are other bands that defy most descriptions, and that generally ruins my life. I’ve tried to explain both Albebaran and Anhedonist to people with very little success because it’s really hard to convey just what you’ll experience with those bands. It’s more than just some riffs, a particular style of vocals, or whatever. It’s far deeper and involved than that. And wow, when it comes to Botanist, I’m at as loss. A really close friend of mine I talk to every day, I recently told him about a promo I got that he wanted to hear. I can say weird shit to describe it, and he’ll get it. For example, I said, 'Kind of angular guitars, but not in an asshole way,' and he totally got it. But I’ve tried to tell him what Botanist sounds like, and I couldn’t even come up with weird ways to do its sole creator Otrebor’s music justice. Actually, now he knows because I played him the double album that introduced the Botanist’s (our main character in these tales) bizarre surroundings to the world, and he gets it now. That’s the trick. You kind of have to step into this leafy, forestal place to completely align yourself with what’s going on. That’s a challenge but a reward.
We’ve long told you about Botanist, and we were honored to debut a song from his new record 'III: Doom in Bloom' and its companion disc 'Allies.' You responded in kind by visiting those posts en mass. I like to think we had a tiny fraction of an influence in your interest over these songs, but let me not kid myself: It’s Otrebor’s twisted genius and the apocalyptic tale he’s created that drew you into those songs. His dulcimer-and-drums songs are like nothing else in the metal world, and while’s it easiest to label his music as experimental black metal, that’s also cutting it short. If you’re new to Botanist, you’ve never heard anything like this before. If you are a fan and listened to 'I. The Suicide Tree/II. A Rose From the Dead' religiously like I did, that assessment still stands. Botanist’s world has changed significantly.
Otrebor still primarily employs the aforementioned instruments and pipes in with his creaky, growly vocals, but you’ll notice right away the textures have changed. 'I/II' has 40 quick, typically fast-paced songs that sprawled into each other. Here, there are but seven cuts, practically all epic-length, and the tempo is much slower, sorrowful, and crushing. I’d go as far as to say the album is more accessible, though it’s not like you could play this for a mainstream rock fan and have that person get it. This record still takes a special kind of listener and demands a lot of anyone who spends time with it. But as I said, you’ll win out in the end because it’s a fascinating, riveting listen, and it shows you a totally different side of the artist behind this music.
Another element you’ll notice is the large amount of whispered vocals, but Otrebor isn’t just doing that to be mysterious. When you hear those whispers, you’re hearing what Azalea, the vengeful force of Nature, is speaking into the ear of the Botanist, which are instructions and philosophies to bring about the end of the human world so that the plants can rise up and take back what is theirs. If you’re new to this story, I suggest going to Botanist’s site, listed below, because you have a lot of catch-up work to do. But you easily could listen to the music for what it is and still enjoy it. You’ll just be lagging behind on plot.
I find a lot of the music on 'Doom in Bloom' quite gorgeous, dramatic, and, at times, serene. You could make an argument that this record is only a metal album by its extreme musical nature and growled vocals, but other than that, it’s very difficult to classify what’s going on here. Hence what I said in the opening.
First cut 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II),' a song we premiered for you in the spring, is moving and somber, almost as if Azalea’s mission is both necessary and troubling morally. Eventually some moaning, droning vocals come into play, but for the most part, this is Azalea’s moment. 'Deathcap' is breathy and hissing, with creaky vocals, some wild shrieks, and a baroque feel that’s both sophisticated and violent. 'Ganoderma Lucidum' has a vintage sci-fi, isolationist feel to it, and the whispered and shrieked vocals run headlong into each other as a bunch of activity erupts.
'Vriesea' is built on an almost military style drum line, and the percussion actually leads this number, with the dulcimer strikes being kept to a minimum. I think I even heard an accordion in there, unless that’s just more string trickery unleashed by Botanist. 'Ocimum Sanctum' is mesmerizing and trance inducing, and it keeps a sleepy tempo that’s occasionally ripped apart by shrieks. 'Amanita Virosa' is the fastest song of the bunch, but it would be considered a slow cut on 'I/II.' Here, the cries grow more desperate and harsh, and the song perfectly leads into the conclusion piece 'Panax.' Just realized Botanist is throwing out a lot of herbal items that generally are used to soothe humans, so maybe the plants have some more devious trickery up their hands to pull us in. Anyhow, like the opener, the feeling goes back to mournful, and there are sections that are almost pastoral and spiritual in nature. It’s an interesting close, one that makes me really curious as to what lies ahead on the next record.
Disc 2, while it maintains a philosophical relationship with nature, is more of a loose section of music that explores other parts of the world Botanist created. Simply put, Otrebor had a ton of drum parts left over, so he decided to get together with other musicians he respects to do full-band songs. Each song has a different lineup, and thusly, all cuts get both band names and song titles to differentiate. It’s a really interesting disc, as you get to hear what Botanist could accomplish if he went the traditional route and what other minds bring to his creations.
Take, for example, 'The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid I,' accredited to Matrushka. It’s a gazey, ambient, creaky transmission that sounds like it belongs floating through a far-away galaxy than imbedded in wooded lands. Or 'The War of All Against All' a song we premiered for you that’s labeled Cult of Linneaus (made up of members of the band Nero Order). The song is sweeping and pure doomy black metal, and it’s my favorite track on this companion disc. The Aborist track 'Total Entarchy' really turned my head with its dirty bluegrass influence, and it reminded a bit of the Panopticon album I reviewed earlier in the week. I’m purposely not going to say much more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise of these pieces. It’s fun to hear these tracks for the first time, and they do stick with you beyond the initial shock wearing off.
Botanist remains a house favorite here at Meat Mead Metal because this project is so unique and interesting and handles apocalyptic destruction in a way no other band has imagined. On top of it all, the music is always giving and ambitious, and no two things he does sound alike. There is more to come, by the way, and part of the reason we aren’t further along is production of this album got held up a bit. That just gives us more time to fully absorb the wonders of 'Doom in Bloom,' another captivating vision from metal’s most thought-provoking performer." -- Brian Krasman, MeatMead Metal, June 15, 2012
(from Meat Mead Metal's 40 Best of 2012 list)
16. BOTANIST, “III: Doom in Bloom” (TotalRust) – The word unique and the term one of a kind get bandied about too much, and I’m probably guilty of that myself. But when it comes to one-man black metal band Botanist and its sole creator Otrebor, how can you help but use those descriptions? Tell me, who else creates their dark trades with the use of just a drum kit and hammered dulcimer and still manages to create something as dark and foreboding as a band with five times as many members? Plus, I defy you to find another music project that sounds anything like Botanist, because chances are, it does not exist. But thanks for trying.
Yet, being different sometimes can be drawback because more effort is put into the quirks and not into the music. But Otrebor never falls into that trap, and this second album (or third, and his first was a double collection, and this one does have a III in the title) finds him branching out his forestal apocalypse even further, and that includes conceptually. While his debut double album had a whopping 40 tracks (most over very quickly), this one has but seven songs that last much longer and have more depth and atmosphere. A lot of the album is slower and quite whispery, and getting into the heart of the story can both be uplifting and terrifying. Add to this a second disc is included that has Otrebor collaborating with like-minded musicians from other bands, and you see how fertile his imagination can be in that setting as well. Great piece of music from a truly incomparable artist." -- Brian Krasman, MeatMead Metal, December 19, 2012
(original German posting):
"Die Wollemie ist äußerst selten. Erst vor wenigen Jahren wurden einige wenige Exemplare dieser lange als ausgestorben geltenden Pflanze an einem abgeschiedenen Ort irgendwo in Australien entdeckt. Ähnlich außergewöhnlich war im vergangenen Jahr auch 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead', das Debüt von BOTANIST, einem Ein-Mann-Projekt aus Kalifornien. Für eine Metal-Veröffentlichung äußerst experimentell, ja schon skurril instrumentiert mit Schlagzeug, Gesang und Hackbrett(!) als einzigem Saiteninstrument, eigenwillig kündend vom Botanisten, der vom Dämonen Azalea angetrieben wird, die verhasste Menschheit zu Fall zu bringen und an ihrer statt ein Königreich der Pflanzen zu errichten.
Auf 'III:Doom In Bloom' bleiben Instrumentierung und Konzept – welches erneut vom stimmigen Artwork M.S. Waldrons aufgegriffen wird – gleich, doch die musikalische Marschrichtung hat sich etwas verändert: Hatte man es auf dem Erstwerk noch mit extrem entfremdetem, minimalistischem "Eco-Terrorist Black Metal" zu tun, gebärden sich die neuen sieben Stücke schwerfälliger, aber auch musikalischer, sind jeweils um ein Vielfaches länger. Sie verstehen sich jetzt offenbar als eine Art schwarzer Doom. Der schmerzerfüllte Krächzgesang Otrebors, der kreativen Kraft hinter BOTANIST, wird nun oft von einem unheimlichen Flüstern – der im Ohr des Botanisten sitzende Dämon Azalea? – ergänzt. Die schrillen, fremd klingenden Anschläge des Hackbretts erzeugen eine bizarr-bedrohliche Atmosphäre, die BOTANIST in die Nähe der unheilvollen Frühwerke der Finnen-Doomer UNHOLY rückt.
Der Veröffentlichung liegt mit 'Allies' eine zweite Scheibe bei, auf der befreundete Musiker BOTANIST-Nummern interpretieren/nachspielen, dabei die originalen Schlagzeugspuren zu Grunde legen. So entstand eine insgesamt lohnenswerte Dreingabe mit einigen schwarzen Kleinoden: CULT OF LINNAEUS' Interpretation beispielsweise zeigt sich als intensiver Black Doom, jene von OPHIDIAN FOREST als mysteriös-melodischer Schwarzmetall – um die beiden stärksten Beiträge zu nennen.
BOTANIST bewegen sich auf dem schmalen Grat zwischen billigem Gestümper und minimalistisch-mutiger Kunst – und die Nadel schlägt in Richtung Letztgenannter aus. Wer auf abgefahrenen, schwarzen Doom steht, sollte den langsam tropfenden, auch aufgrund seiner Seltenheit verlockenden Nektar von 'III:Doom In Bloom' also einmal kosten. Ob das in ein blühendes Paradies oder eine grüne, unbezwingbar wuchernde Hölle führt, bleibt ungewiss. Eines aber steht fest: Mehr Floral Doom geht nicht." -- Christoph Meul, Metal.de, July 5, 2012
(translation into English courtesy of Tobias Hændel)
"The Wollemia is an extremely rare plant. Some years ago, a few specimens of this plant, long thought to be extinct, were discovered at a remote location somewhere in Australia. In the past year, 'I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead,' the debut of Botanist, a one-man project from California, was similarly unusual. Utterly experimental for a metal release, bizarrely instrumented with drums, vocals and a hammered dulcimer (!) as the sole string instrument, outlandishly heralding The Botanist, who is driven by the demon Azalea to overthrow abhorrent mankind and create a kingdom of plants.
On 'III:Doom in Bloom,' the instrumentation and concept -- which is revisited by the consistent artwork of M.S. Waldron -- stay the same; the musical direction, however, has changed a little: While on the debut, one was exposed to extremely estranged, minimalistic "eco-terrorist black metal," the seven new s songs conduct themselves more ponderously, but are also more musical and signifcantly longer. Now they can appearantly be seen as some kind of blackened doom. The pained screeching of Otrebor, the creative force behind Botanist, is now often accompanied by an eerie whispering -- the demon Azalea, sitting in The Botanist's ear? The piercing, strange-sounding strokes of the hammered dulcimer create a bizarre and menacing atmosphere, placing Botanist near the ominous earlier works of Finnish doomers Unholy.
The release comes with a second record, on which friends of the band cover Botanist songs while using the original drum tracks. That way an overall worthwile bonus with several blackened gems was created: Cult of Linnaeus' interpretation, for example, presents itself as intensive black doom, while that of Ophidian Forest appears as mysteriously melodic black metal... to mention the two strongest contributions.
Botanist walks a fine line between cheap bungling and minimalistic-bold art -- and the needle tends towards the latter. Anybody who digs spaced out blackened doom should taste the slowly dripping -- and due to its rarity -- tempting nectar. If this leads to a flourishing paradise or to a green, uncontrollably rampant hell remains unknown. But one thing is for sure: Botanist delivers Floral Doom at its finest." -- Christoph Meul, Metal.de, July 5, 2012
"Botanist - Doom in Bloom / Allies has been released on the Verdant Realm Bandcamp. This is a followup to the Botanist debut The Suicide Tree / A Rose From the Dead, that caused quite a stir with its post-apocalyptic botanical black metal with croaky vocals, drums, and hammered dulcimer.
On Doom in Bloom keyboards are added to the palette, and the croaks are supplemented with eerie whispering. The tempo has dropped, and the songs are longer, more intricate, and have moved into a kind of blackened doom territory. The dulcimer suits this style of music perfectly. It's trebly hammering creates an intense almost horrific atmosphere, as we wait for the impending floral doom
According to Heavy Blog is Heavy Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II), the first track from Doom In Bloom, is hauntingly emotional, brilliantly arranged, and sounds absolutely perfect in terms of production quality. I agree.
Allies is the perfect companion disk to Doom in Bloom. When you're done dulcimering you'll appreciate these full-band songs made by friends of Botanist to drum tracks from the Doom in Bloom session. A kind of Botanist alternate universe if you will, read more about it in this interview from Meat Mead Metal. You can also listen to Allies above as it is included in the Doom In Bloom stream and Bandcamp download." -- Max Rotvel, Metalbandcamp, May 28, 2012
"Over the past two years, the enigmatic one-man band known as Botanist has proved himself to be an artist to watch. The previous double release from this madman, I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead made it onto the higher echelons of several best-of-2011 lists, and not just because of its unique instrumentation. Although Botanist is certainly best known for his exclusive use of nothing but a drumset and an Appalachian hammered dulcimer, his black metal arrangements proved to be quite entrancing, even though most metalheads didn’t really know what to make of it. However, Botanist had successfully made a name for himself in the scene, and has proved himself to be nothing else if not prolific – his second releaseis another double-disc, released but a year after his last one! Such a rapid-fire release of material is often a sign of either budding genius or lack of quality control, or in Botanist’s case, both in equal measure.
The album is definitely much more matured than I/II, in terms of both composition and arrangement. The doom metal format works far better for Botanist’s unique arrangements, as there’s plenty of space for each note to breathe – take as an example, the opener 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II),' which wouldn’t sound anywhere out of place on a recent Earth record. This spatial treatment is a double-edged sword, however, as the silence is all too eager to swallow up the notes of the dulcimer, but when the formula works, it works quite well. The vocals on this release vary from ethereal whispers to Leviathan-esque croaks, and they actually work pretty well with the instrumentation – the hammered dulcimer already sounds unfamiliar enough, so some good ol’ inhuman black metal vocals really augment the weird-factor of this release. Sometimes the songs start to run out of steam, especially the longer ones, and the distinct lack of other forms of instrumentation definitely makes most songs hard to tell apart. But when everything comes together, like on the opener or the enthrallingly off-putting 'Ganoderma Lucidum,' it can be pretty damn engrossing.
The second disk on the album, Allies, is a collection of songs made by friends and colleagues of Botanist set over the drum tracks from III: Doom in Bloom. Although the first disk is strange enough, this collection is where things really start getting interesting. The new musicians bring a wide amount of diversity and unique approaches – there’s a crushing sludge metal assault from Cult of Linnaeus and a majestically stirring selection of folk-tinged black metal from Botanist’s main band, Ophidian Forest, followed by a mournful piece from Arborist that brings a scuzzy slide guitar and a theremin into the already-unique instrumentation, before thundering into a monstrous climax halfway through. It’s bedeviling.Lotus Thief brings us a shimmery shoegaze-influenced psychedelia piece, followed by a slab of operatic soprano-fronted traditional doom metal from Bestiary. The entirety of Allies is bookended by two lonesome ambient pieces from Matrushka, who both commences and ends the album with a distinctively darkened mood. All these disparate treatments of music can sound disjointed when taken as a whole, but their appeal as individual tracks is rather high. Much like on the companion disk, there’s nothing on Allies that sounds like it’s been done before.
Botanist has set a standard in music of releasing music that’s obtuse, complex, and rather mystifying. If you’re looking for an album to put on and rock out to, this certainly won’t be it. But if you’re looking for something as different and out-there as it gets, look no further. III: Doom in Bloom / Allies is far from the best album of 2012, but it’s definitely the most unique. And that definitely counts for something, as far as I’m concerned. (3.5/5)" -- Sam, Metal Blast, September 14, 2012
"Insane almost begins to describe this severely amazing work of eco-terrorist black metal. It's a little hard to get into because of just how bizarrely different it is from what you may have heard before.
Whispery, disturbing vocals. Powerful percussion arrangements. Hammer dulcimer.
Listen to this in wooded darkness and try not to be scared out of your mind." -- OCR, Moosick Revoos, July 10, 2012
NOISES IN THE FIELD
"A few months back, a friend asked me if I had heard of Botanist to which I had not. He then went on to describe it as this interesting black metal project where the main instrument in use was the hammered dulcimer. He then went on to say it was interesting, but not really anything special. Challenging at best. I would check out songs from the first album 'I: The Suicide Tree/ II: A Rose From The Dead', to which, although interesting, didn't really win me over either. Quick noisy songs with the gargling vocals I didn't really like. And I pretty much left it at that. A couple of weeks later, I came across 'III: Doom In Bloom'. Well...
This is much more interesting and so much better. I showed this to the same friend who told me about Botanist and he has been won over too. Thanks to much longer songs, slower tempos and even a change in 'style', now I have become captivated. This time, Botanist has presented songs that take the hammered dulcimer beyond black metal and into more post like territories. The soundtrack to the end of the world brought forth by a floral apocalypse. And here we are worrying about nuclear weapons..
The sorrow, the bleakness, the sense of evilness spreads across these songs like vines growing from the soil and slowly wrapping themselves around homes, along roads, even the people wandering around. Nothing here is really heavy here though. It is more 'calming' in a way. Except those nodding melodies have a weird spook to them. The way the notes from the hammered dulcimer can vary in feel, sorrowfully weaving along in 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)', to eerily plodding off in 'Ganoderma Lucidum', and chiming in and out with the marching pace of the drums in 'Vriesea', it all comes off quite unique and feels organic.
The vocals can be a little uneasy at times. But in a good way. Between the cold whispers and the harsh screams, but also that weird gargle like sound, but I am taking a different mindset to them this time around. It is as if the voice represents those that are forced to scream in agony or gargle their own blood as they are being strangled by the vines that are wrapping themselves around those wandering the bleak fields, slowly crushing their bones.
Endless sounds of the crashing cymbals are like spores shooting into the sky and releasing a poisonous mist with a scent so strong that when it reaches each person and is inhaled, it gets inside their bodies and slowly eats away at their internal organs. The thudding beats in 'Panax' is each body falling to the ground one by one and each warped note is the final dazing moment in each ones mind as they hit the ground. A dark and haunting finale.
I wont go into too much detail with 'Allies', the bonus disc with this album but that is also very interesting. The disc features songs by other artists (friends of Botanist) using the drum recordings of previous Botanist songs and made into their own unique works. The themes also have to be based around plants. A good mix of sludge, doom, and black metal like presentations. Really awesome stuff.
Overall, from the seeds of black metal, another interesting and unique artist has been unearthed. Botanist has taken some time to grow on me and it will continue to do so. Thanks to 'III: Doom In Bloom', this is the moment where Botanist has bloomed for me and I am sure in time, many more interesting works will be planted by him." -- Ikil, Noises in the Field, August 12, 2012
"It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title 'life after people.' If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species." -- H.P. Taskmaster,The Obelisk, October 16, 2012
(original German posting)
"Botanists drittes Album ist ein verstörendes, extrem sperriges und experimentelles Album, welches wohl nur Freunden von Ambient-Klängen dauerhaft Freude bereiten wird. Dabei sind die sieben Kompositionen auf CD 1 ('Doom In Bloom') – allesamt übrigens von Botanists einzigem Protagonisten – Otrebor – eingespielt) weit davon entfernt irgendwie verspielt zu klingen. Im Gegenteil, Otrebor hat die sieben Stücke in absolut minimalistischer Form gehalten. Gitarren? Fehlanzeige! Bass? Warum? Dafür werden die überlangen Songs in einer Art akustischen Version, lediglich bestehend aus dezenten Drums, einem gefühlvollen Hackbrett-Spiel (!!!), vereinzelten Samples mit schaurigem, Black Metal-artigen Gesang (?) präsentiert, was das Ganze sehr mystisch, auf Dauer aber auch genauso arg eintönig wie dissonant wirken lässt. Diesen Mix aus Black, Doom und Ambient kann nur ein komplettes Album lang gut finden, wer permanent auf Droge ist oder tendenziell immer bereit ist sein Leben hier und jetzt zu beenden. Krasse Nummer!
Mit 'Allies' gibt es übrigens eine zweite CD, für welche Otrebor seine rohen Drum-Recordings befreundeten Bads zur Verfügung gestellt hat, die irgendwelchen beliebigen Sounds drumherum stricken durften. Die Ergebnisse sind deshalb sehr verschieden und reichen von monotonen Ambient-Sounds über Seventies-Anklänge bis hin zu blackened Doom und doomigem Black Metal." -- SBr, Obliveon, August, 2012
(translation to English by Tobias Hændel)
"Botanist's third album is an unsettling, extremely unwieldy and experimental album, which might only give lasting pleasure to friends of ambient sounds. Although the seven compositions on CD 1 ('Doom in Bloom') -- all of which were recorded by Botanist's only member, Otrebor, by the way -- are far from sounding somehow playful. On the contrary, Otrebor kept the seven pieces in an absolutely minimalistic pattern. Guitar? No chance! Bass? Why? Instead, the lengthy songs are presented in a kind of an acoustic version, merely consisting of subtle drums and expressive dulcimer play (!!!), as well as of occasional samples of creepy, black metal-esque vocals, which makes the whole thing very mystical, but comes across just as monotonous as dissonant in the long run. This mix of black, doom and ambient as a full album can only be appreciated by those who are permanently high or have an overall tendency to end their lives here and now. Damn!
There is a second CD, by the way, called 'Allies,' for which Otrebor provided his raw drum recordings to friendly bands, which had the opportunity to compose any sound with them. Thus, the results vary greatly and range from monotonous ambient sounds to '70s tunes, to blackened doom and doomy black metal." -- SBr, Obliveon, August, 2012
THE OMEGA ORDER
"Picking up where his previous effort left off, Botanist takes the hammered dulcimer black metal sound into new yet familiar territory. Somewhere between black metal and doom metal, hanging like the leaves of a spider lily plant. Rooted deeply in both of those sonic soils while reaching out into new territory that only it can inhabit." -- August, 2012
"Get it out of your head that one man dulcimer/drum act Botanist is a gimmick; it's not. III: Doom in Bloom is a fitting title as things have slowed down this time and are much more meditative. I like this approach much more and find the harmonies and drum patterns so engrossing. Botanist might be the only metal band I know of to not have guitars and be completely acoustic (and really good too). It comes with a second disc of drum tracks provided by Botanist for other bands to use. Frankly I haven't really bothered with this and pretend it's not part of the release." -- Perpetual Strife's The End Time, Top 10 Albums of 2012 (#3), December 18, 2012
"They don’t come more singular than Botanist, a one-man band deliberately shrouded in mystery. Ostensibly, Botanist is Otrebor, although more details of the man are few and far between, to the point that that’s the only name available. But Botanist is also a concept, The Botanist being an “eco-terrorist” living in the wilds of the USA, separate from Otrebor (who “channels” him) and waiting for the time when nature will destroy humanity and retake its rightful place in the world. A weird concept, for sure, but its one that infuses the project and music from start to finish, from the different images of flora and fungi in the artwork, to the track titles ('Deathcap', 'Ganoderma Lucidum') to the strange way Botanist performs his black metal using only drums and hammer dulcimer (!).
Compared to his 2011 debut, III Doom In Bloom / Allies actually quietly introduces hints of guitar and keyboard, but make no mistake: Botanist is first and foremost a drummer with a love for the hammer dulcimer, and the way he combines the two, building loping, insistent rhythm patterns around chiming, piano-like dulcimer notes, is rather astounding. Any other elements are just details. The album’s key long tracks, 'Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II)', 'Ocimum Sanctum' and 'Panax' are grim and foreboding sonic behemoths on which Otrebor performs shifting percussive rolls and drives and the dulcimer’s monolithic chords are transmogrified into something approaching the darkest of doom metal guitar riffage. Anyone thinking the hammer dulcimer is too sweet or classical an instrument to fit into the sludgy tropes of metal need to giveIII: Doom In Bloom / Allies a listen. Like Spanish heathens Orthodox, Botanist rips at the frayed corners of the genre by bloody-mindedly refusing to be hemmed in by convention.
Black metal purists, of course, will scoff at the idea of an album purporting to be of the genre but bereft of guitars (or, for that matter, pace - this is a grindingly slow album). But Otrebor’s vocals should put paid to any such qualms. Mostly delivered in a raspy snarl, the vocals are buried deep in the mix, but represent the cherry on this sinister cake, intensifying the atmosphere of dread and disquiet. If, one day, someone decides to direct yet another remake of Day of the Triffids, he or she should look no further than this album for the soundtrack. It’s hard to make plants seem scary (see M. Night Shyamalan’s goofy stinkbomb The Happening), but Botanist pretty much manages it. The 'Azalea' mentioned in the title of the opening track is, according to the Botanist “lore”, a plant demon determined to wreck ruin on humanity. Surrounded by his oppressive drums and a dulcimer rendered into a weapon of war, one could almost believe such malevolent sprites exist. That their mission of vengeance might be justified is all the more troubling. Here’s hoping Botanist isn’t actually on to something (and let’s face it, logic suggests he isn’t).
The second segment of the album, Allies, is a series of collaborations with like-minded black metal artists such as Cult Of Linnaeus and Arborist, and the resultant tracks are all worth listening to, but are more anchored in traditional black metal. They don’t actually distract from the potency of Doom In Bloom, but that’s where the core of this peculiar, sinister and arresting album lies." -- Joseph Burnett, The Quietus, October 29, 2012
(transcribed from the print magazine Record Collector)
"Sowing the seeds of discontent.
Fuck Satan and all that church-burning bullshit. Black metal’s moved on. It’s all about the flora, Gaia theory and Ted Kaczynski’s eco-terrorist spiel. We’re fighting a war and shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s the day of the fucking Triffids and it’s up to San Fran one-man band The Botanist (aka Otrebor) to save humanity from the revenge of the inevitable verdant realm.
This here’s a black metal revolutionary so radical that he doesn’t even need a frigging guitar. Rather, he constructs cinematic slo-mo chimes from the resonating strings of a hammered dulcimer (backed by his own pugilist percussion), conflating the sound of ghostly pianos and the nu-shoegaze reveries of Justin Broadrick’s Jesu. For this album Otrebor may have slowed the pace in relation to previous outings, but the impact of his unique sound is, if anything, only enhanced by the lurching tempos.
A bonus disc finds The Botanist’s allies taking in a vast sonic range – from Bestiary’s quasi-operatic Hammers Of Misfortune-style battle metal to Matrushka’s murky ambience – nurturing their own works from recordings taken during the Doom In Bloom sessions. Pick of these has to be Arborist’s Total Entarchy, an epic slice of pedal steel-driven black metal that seems caught in a perpetual state of degenerative flux. Think Susan Alcorn sitting in with Xasthur or Lurker Of Chalice for a piece that arguably trumps anything from the original album. (4 stars)" -- Spencer Grady, Record Collector #406, October, 2012
THE RINGMASTER REVIEW
"Leaving strong acclaim and impressions behind with first release, the two part I: The Suicide Tree/ II: A Rose From The Dead, doom/death metaller Botanist returns with new release III: Doom in Bloom which is accompanied by a second CD, Allies. Openly different to the previous release, the album released through TotalRust, challenges the senses and thoughts with dramatic tones, dynamic atmospheres, and a black depth which envelopes and squeezes tightly around the senses. It is a testing listen at times but thoroughly rewarding and wonderfully leaves one alone in thought and blistered ambiance long after its departure.
Botanist is the solo project of Otrebor centred around a crazed man of science called The Botanist who lives in self-imposed exile. The songs are told from the perspective of The Botanist from his sanctuary of fantasy and wonder, called the Verdant Realm. There he surrounds himself with plants and flowers, finding solace in the company of the Natural world whilst envisioning and waiting for the destruction of man, the time when man pays for his crimes against nature and when plants will be able to make the Earth green once again. Whereas the previous parts were impactful and full of short and intensive black metal corruptions the new release offers sprawling malevolent soundscapes, their crawling tempos and intrusive keyboard driven atmospheres whipping the senses and dragging one into post-apocalyptic shadows of intent and blackened sonic realms of new enterprise.
Dulcimer guided as before, the album wraps every atom and synapse in a shifting expanse of sonic revelation. Opening track 'Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)' laps at the ear like forceful waves, resonating squalls taunting and exploring the senses whilst disparaging whispers permeate the atmosphere. It is impossible to make out the lyrics on the track such the serpentine lilt and distorted breath they offer but it is a stirring texture to the melodramatic and provocative sound to make it all a deeper experience. The percussion is startling and spots the thick mass surrounding them perfectly whilst the rhythms fluctuate from inciteful to mere barbed guides.
It is an immense start continued just as impressively by 'Deathcap' and elevated by the likes of 'Ganoderma Lucidum' and 'Vriesea.' The first of the trio is a decayed caress which consumes and sucks up all light and hope borne thoughts whilst the middle piece takes one through a sonic blistering brought with sharp acidic invention. It is a journey soaked in an intense ominous weight of sound, its passage a slow and lumbering event which with every twist and distraction of sinister melodies and irritant percussion is a mesmeric intrigue with destruction on its hands.
The last of the three steals attention with military precise drums and a droning ambience before stoking the embers of psychedelic/progressive fires, it provocation encouraging them to flame and scorch the bewildered atmosphere. It is glorious and as with all tracks, at times a challenge in its persistence and acute delving through the senses, a song to bask in and surrender to.
Highlight of the album is 'Amatina Virosa,' another barrage of drum enticement leading the way into resourceful and imaginative magnificence. It stirs up the passions and energy, its anthemic drive and distraught vocal assault a corrosion to devour greedily. The remaining songs which sandwich this song, 'Ocimum Sanctum' and 'Panax' are massive funereal dirges which transfix and transport one into the darkest discomforts and sapping realms though both have spears of melodic light to scar the way.
Second disc 'Allies' is a compilation of tracks from friends of Otrebor who have brought their own musical visions about Nature created around drums tracks recorded during the Doom In Bloom sessions. It includes songs from Ophidian Forest, Cult of Linnaeus, and Lotus Thief, as well as a two part sonic manipulation of the track Vriesea on the main album by Matrushka. It is an intriguing and different compliment to Doom In Bloom and completes what is a great release. It is a hard demand at times but always rewarding and evocative with impressive expression brought through strong invention and passion." -- RingMaster, The RingMaster Review, October 5, 2012
SATAN OWES US MONEY
"Le nouveau Botanist c'est comme les deux précédents, mais en, comme son nom l'indique n'est-ce pas, plus lent - pense-t-on au début déçu par la sensible baisse d'astringence et de violente intensité du saisissement procuré ; en plus languissant, finit-on par s'apercevoir - il est déjà trop tard : les botanistes comme chacun sait sont, en puissance tout du moins, tous des enculés d'empoisonneurs, et Doom in Bloom est une foutue saloperie de décoction végétale, d'intoxication qui vous possède d'une langueur fatale, invincible, molle et souveraine à la fois, une paralysie en effet bien plus douce que celle où vous pouvait faire glisser son double prédécesseur, une pâle vie végétative qui vous prend, aussi passive et aussi délétère que la Pocahontas de Mallick ; c'est le placide engourdissement généralisé, celui qui seul fait la morsure de cette musique paraître moins aigüe qu'aux premières gifles de ses orties, et leur agitation, sur de religieux thèmes qui paraissent les mêmes, qu'au début, que sur les autres disques, on ne sait plus bien dans la rêveuse mollesse qui gagne de plus en plus - paraître plus lente, et l'écarquillement d'incrédulité devant une mort qui vient avec une horrible et extrême douceur impossible à seulement combattre ; c'est, excusez moi de le dire, un putain de disque de salopard." -- gulo gulo, Satan Owes Us Money, December 14, 2012
THE SLEEPING SHAMAN
"I’m always drawn to the rampant individualists in music, those brave souls who go out on a limb and plough their own furrow regardless of outside pressures or whether or not what they do is considered ‘cool’ by others. They’re in it simply in order to express their own singular vision, whatever it may be, and the icy realms of Black Metal has proven to be very fertile ground indeed.
From Snorre Ruch’s Thorns, the template for much BM to come, through the seriously odd Ved Buens Ende, to Ulver’s shift from primitive corpse-shrieks and wasps-in-a-biscuit-tin guitars to sophisticated minimalist electronica, the icy grimm wastes of Black Metal have thrown up quite the motley assortment of those with very much their own agenda – and thank de lawd, as meat ‘n’ potatoes BM is pretty fucking drear and unimaginative on the whole.
The latest in this line of mavericks is a one-man operation coming physically from the San Francisco area, but spiritually and philosophically from somewhere known as The Verdant Realm, and known simply as Botanist.
So, wait, hold the phone, ‘The Verdant Realm’?
Yes indeed, there is a weighty and all-consuming concept behind Botanist, best summed up in the words of the man himself -
‘The songs of Botanist are told from the perspective of The Botanist, a crazed man of science who lives in self-imposed exile, as far away from Humanity and its crimes against Nature as possible. In his sanctuary of fantasy and wonder, which he calls the Verdant Realm, he surrounds himself with plants and flowers, finding solace in the company of the Natural world, and envisioning the destruction of man. There, seated upon his throne of Veltheimia, The Botanist awaits the day when humans will either die or kill each other off, which will allow plants to make the Earth green once again’.
…Oh, and just so as you know ‘Veltheimia’ is ‘a genus of perennial plants native to South Africa in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae’.
Now that we’re all more-or-less up-to-speed on the concept behind Botanist it’s probably time to discuss the music – although clearly, for The Botanist himself the two are forever intertwined – and you’ll be unsurprised to learn that the music itself is just as individualistic as the philosophical framework behind the project.
As you may surmise from the title, Doom/Allies is split into two sections, with the first part – Doom - being the music of Botanist alone, and the second – Allies – being songs performed by six friends and associates of The Botanist, utilising drum tracks recorded by The Botanist during the sessions for Doom. This, in turn leads us to another revelation – the music of Botanist is almost entirely percussion-based.
Well…….to some extent. Y’see, the music of Botanist is driven by drums and the hammered dulcimer.
Yes, you read that correctly – the hammered dulcimer.
Not the most metal of instruments, I grant you, let alone BLACK Metal, but in The Verdant Realm the hammered dulcimer is king, and its silvery, sharp-toned baroque richness gives voice to The Chlorophyllic Continuum. Tonally, it sits comfortably in the piano range, but with a wonderfully metallic percussive edge. The dulcimer takes care of the melodic end of things and The Botanist’s precise yet powerful drumming takes care of the drive. Somewhere in there is the faintest pulse of bass, adding thickness to some of the sparser sections, but once ensconced within the sound-world of Botanist, you don’t miss ‘conventional’ instrumentation.
Now, although self-described as ‘Black Metal’, fans of, say, Immortal would be unlikely to find anything to their liking herein, as in all honesty the only overt traces of Black Metal in Botanist’s sound can be found in The Botanist’s rasping, croaking vocal style, and to a lesser extent in the very-infrequent, somewhat subdued ‘blast beats’ that crop up once in a blue moon. Tempo-wise, Botanist errs toward a slightly sluggish pace, hanging back slightly and allowing the edgy sound of the dulcimer and the shrieking of The Botanist to fully permeate the dead air.
As with most forward-thinking bands rooted in BM, the musical side of Botanist has evolved past the BM stylistic-straightjacket – musically, there are moments on Doom that could fleetingly pass for, say, Tortoise, at a push – leaving only really the ideology of BM behind, the sense of opposition, of being the cold outsider, bristling with hostility.
In the case of Botanist, the voice of hostility comes from Azalea, a voice in the ear of The Botanist that may or may not be either the demonic voice of nature or else the voice of schizophrenia. Azalea – pictured whispering into the ear of The Botanist on the cover of III and also the subject of opening track of Doom, ‘Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II)’ – speaking through The Botanist puts me, personally, in mind of the deranged plant-man Jason ‘The Floronic Man’ Woodrue – as Wood-Rue - acting out the perceived will of the elemental force known as The Green in the initial run of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing comic book series, rampaging through a small town, annihilating what he calls ‘screaming meat’. The whispering insinuation of Azalea is rendered quite chillingly throughout the opening number, sitting just on the edge of hearing amidst the chiming dulcimer, crashing and smashing drums and clusters of droning ambient vocalisation.
As stated earlier, the music of Botanist seeps out of the speakers and hangs in the negative space left by traditional distorted guitar and bass, contributing greatly to the entire soundworld carefully constructed by The Botanist. The seven tracks that make up Doom tend toward the lengthy, but this, again, aids the cumulative effect of being immersed in this aural emission from The Verdant Realm.
Over on the second disc of the set, Allies, as stated earlier six friends and associates of The Botanist have constructed songs of their own around drum-tracks provided by The Botanist himself. The interpretations vary wildly from one another – from the creepy and ethereal ambient minimalism of Matrushka, who opens and closes the disc, through the hefty blackened doom of Cult Of Linnaeus, the lo-fi yet symphonic epic Black Metal of Ophidian Forest, the deeply odd yet utterly entrancing Black Metal acoustic slide-blues that suddenly bursts into Neurosis-esque epic sludge of Arborist, the pounding double-bass drumming and psychedelic space-metal of Lotus Thief, and the brittle harmonies, chunky chugging and quasi-operatic female vocals of avant-doomsters Bestiary – but the tracks on offer cover enough (under)ground so as to make something for most discerning tastes.
So there you have it, a rather sprawling review that attempts to distil the vast area covered by III – Doom/Allies down into something readable and easy to digest, as this really is something that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. Sure, many of them either won’t like it and/orunderstand it, but it should be listened to, nevertheless, for the boldness and willingness to stick to his guns of its creator, and because I can guarantee that you’ve never heard anything like it before. That alone must surely make you prick up your ears and pay attention. Enter The Verdant Realm." -- Paul Robertson, The Sleeping Shaman, July 24, 2012
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
"Doom in Bloom: more bloom, less doom needed here.
The Botanist, Doom in Bloom, Israel, 2xCD Total Rust Music, TRUST025 (2012)
After the first two albums, reviewed in an earlier post, the one-man eco-black metal dulcimer-playing horde The Botanist opts for a rather different musical direction on 'Doom in Bloom' which as the title suggests is a doomy affair. Those first two albums were quite breezy and minimal in style and featured 40 short songs crammed onto two discs: the danger there was that they tended to bleed into one another and to lose their individuality as songs. No such problem here: the album proper runs over an hour in length but features just seven songs, all of which take up the nature-oriented theme with their titles describing the characteristics (as The Botanist imagines them) of various plants and fungi such as the lingzhi mushroom, the poisonous Amanita mushroom, the holy basil and ginseng.
Tracks are usually repetitive and slow, and their riffs and melodies make more of an impression on listeners than their equivalents did on The Botanist’s first two releases. The sound can be mournful and plaintive and the drumming sounds more natural (in the sense that it sounds as if Otrebor, the Botanist main-man, had actually got someone on skins: that would be himself, I believe) and confident, even martial, and less brittle and nervy. Extra instrumentation and some subtle effects have been included on some tracks as well. Vocals, when they do appear which is not often, tend to be whispered and unobtrusive, and even when the phantom gravel-rasp appears, it is very quiet. The screaming veers more towards existential anguish than to hostility and aggression. The most distinctive track on the album is 'Deathcap' which has a slumped, depressed mood and a foot-dragging pace; apart from this track, the other songs tend to be fairly generic and downright ploddingly mediocre and quite painful at times.
Fortunately The Botanist has included a bonus disc titled 'Allies' for which six bands were invited to contribute tracks based on the rhythms of the 'Doom in Bloom' songs and that also have a nature or plant-based theme. Matrushka’s 'The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid' pieces are wafting ambient pieces, mysterious and lonesome in their mood. 'The War of All Against All' by Cult of Linnaeus is a brooding raspy-voiced song with death metal, post-rock and sludge doom metal influences. The Botanist’s regular band Ophidian Forest plays folk-influenced, near-symphonic black metal on 'Cordyceps', referring to a type of fungus: this is quite a stirring piece with a thrumming rhythm loop and is quite majestic in parts. Arborist’s 'Total Entarchy' is a weeping piece performed on metal-stringed or slide guitar with piano and drum accompaniment that suddenly and dramatically breaks out into full-on emotional post-rock psychedelia with a spooky banshee theremin and sliding, melting guitar riffs and flourishes: this is easily the best song on the album and worth the purchase price alone.
Lotus Thief has its work cut out following Arborist but 'Nymphaea Carulea' is an excellent post-rock black metal fusion piece combining a rapid rhythm, a raw guitar sound, smooth lead guitar drones and shoegaze shimmer that recalls aspects of Caina and Alcest. Unexpected toughness and crunch coming hard on the softer melodic passages make this a highlight on the disc. Bestiary’s 'It Lives Again' is an ordinary doom metal song with lyrics sung by an operatic soprano singer.
'Doom in Bloom' by itself isn’t a great piece of work and I’m rather disappointed that it turned out the way it did. Doom metal doesn’t appear to be The Botanist’s strong point at all. The 'remix' disc saves the album with those tracks from Arborist and Lotus Thief which together would make a handy split single." -- Nausika, The Sound Projector, August 20, 2012
"Metal bands like Slayer or Emperor like to think they're scary when they sing about Auschwitz or dismemberment or Satan coming for your soul. But nothing makes my bowels turn to water like listening to Donovan singing children's songs. His version of the old child ballad 'Henry Martin' on 1971's HMS Donovan is a five-minute journey into rampaging faery psychosis. The ostensible plot—a boy turns to piracy to stave off poverty, with the inevitable bloody consequences —is dour enough. But Donovan sings it with the cheerful trill of a hippie tripping through flowers… occasionally breaking into a quivering, fruity, atonal warble, as if his vocal chords have been hijacked by evil elves wielding tuning forks. The result is a kind of inhuman jubilant celebration of despair—'all the merry men drowned in the sea-ee-ee-ee.' Monsters and demons are cheesy good fun; infants dancing atop their parents’ bloated corpses, though, are genuinely macabre.
I wouldn't be surprised if Otrebor, the man behind plant-worshipping black-metal project Botanist, was a fan of Donovan's. Whether or not, though, the track 'Amanita Virosa' from his most recent album Botanist III: Doom in Bloomreminded me uncannily of 'Henry Martin,' with the droning hammered dulcimer of the opening neatly replacing Donovan's weird ai-yi-yi-yi-yis. As in Donovan's music, too, the inhuman, chiming drone serves as a fey celebration of human erasure. Amanita Virosa, also known as the 'Destroying Angel' is a deadly poisonous mushroom, often mistaken for edible. Otrebor is definitely cheering it on when shrieks, 'Destroying angel, Capped in red/Stipate fungoid/From its spores mankind it stalks.'
Botanist's first double album, released last year, was composed of 40 short songs, suggesting a restless and ominous fecundity. His new release goes to the other extreme; the shortest track here is almost seven minutes, and the longest is twice that length. Stretched out, the songs downshift from black to doom; the plodding 'Panax,' in particular, unfolds with the slow, heavy inevitability of humans turning into fertilizer.
These are definitely murder ballads—and weirdly faithful ones at that. Botanist may not actually be covering 'Henry Martin' or 'Henry Lee,' but in his own idiom he captures the blank, affectless distance of a Lloyd Chandler or Almeda Riddle—the sense that the performer is looking at the dead through alien eyes. For traditional performers like Chandler and Riddle, those eyes generally belong more or less to a distant, incomprehensible God. For Botanist, on the other hand, the eyes belong to fungi. Yet the perspective is oddly similar. That's especially the case when you compare it to, say, Nick Cave, whose gleefully perverse, lascivious take on the murder ballad is miles away from Botanist's dry anti-humanism. Folk-rape weirdos like Cave or Comus revel in atavistic Dionysian abandon—for them humans are feral red tongue and appetite. For Otrebor, though, we're not at one with nature because of the juices running down our cheek, but because we are the juices—not the eaters, but the eaten. 'Vrisea' has a John Phillip Sousa tempo to its drums, but that's not an inspiring call to martial glory. Instead, it's a Taps-like dirge, the music circling back around on itself and stamping in place, with Otrebor whispering botanical Latin appellations like he's throwing orchids on a grave.
Given the anti-humanist death wish, the second disk in this package is somewhat startling. It's a collaborative venture called Allies, in which like-minded fellow travelers build their own plant-worshipping, flesh-loathing tracks on top of Otrebor's drums. The results vary widely, from Matrushka's 'The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid,' which sounds like electronica in the woods with crickets; to the straight doom of Cult of Linnaeus' 'The War of All Against All'" to Lotus Thief's tripped-out psychedelia on ' Nymphaea Carulea.' Probably the best track is the Arborist's amazing 'Total Entarchy,' which combines folk guitar and musical saw into a bleak cyclopean trudge— like Garrison Keillor being swallowed by Cthulhu.
On the one hand, the collective hippie vibe may seem to undermine the Botanist's mystique. Shouldn't his plants be his only friends? But then again… there's always the Wicker Man. Hippie collectives preaching peace are rather frightening; why can't hippie collectives preaching blood sacrifice to leafy gods be frightening too?
Botanist is spreading the word: all the merry men drown not in the sea, but in the earth, and the grass grows through their eyes." -- Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today, June 28, 2012
"Like any genre, black metal can get generic: demon shrieks, plodding drums, feedback, more demon shrieks, classical bridge, and lyrical paeans to medieval torture. Botanist, though, is something else. Instead of the medieval torture, he offers spooky invocations to evil plants. And instead of the usual quasi-rock instrumentation, his songs are built around hammered dulcimer. The result is an evocation of hippie dread that bypasses New Age and heads straight for the druids: a ritual, droning, crystalline whisper that suggests twisted Ents yodeling as they piss upon your corpse. A second disk titledAllies, featuring like-minded collaborators, only accentuates the air of deadly covens gathering. Bizarre, bleak, beautiful and absurd, it'll make you realize that vegetable matter was what was missing from your metal all along." -- Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today's Top 10 Albums of 2012 (#3), December 19, 2012
"Botanist è un progetto musicale decisamente atipico nato nel 2009 a San Francisco. Trattasi di una creatura generata dal batterista degli Ophidian Forest, 'The Botanist.' La musica proposta è un indefinibile mix di suoni ed influenze, si va dal doom e black metal all’ambient, con richiami alla musica acustica e ad accenni vagamente folk. Personalmente definisco la musica di Botanist come avantgarde, qualsiasi etichetta penso risulterebbe forzata. L’elemento che mi colpisce maggiormente di questo progetto é il lato concettuale, tutto incentrato com’è facile intuire sulla botanica e la natura.
L’utilizzo dello strumento musicale Hammered Dulcimer fornisce ad alcuni dei brani una connotazione molto personale, spiazzando l’ascoltatore nel corso del primo ascolto. Se da un lato sono presenti scorci musicali e compositivi interessanti (qualche piccolo richiamino anche agli Ulver abbastanza recenti?), la dispersione e l’eccessiva ripetitività fanno sovente capolino nei brani di 'III: Doom In Blood' (sic), primo dei due dischi contenuti all’interno di questo album.
Il secondo CD, sul quale torneremo in seguito, infatti contiene una parte denominata 'Allies' e si tratta di una compilation di brani realizzata da amici dei Botanist usando batterie registrate per 'III: Doom In Blood' (sic). Quest’ultima idea è molto originale e conferma ancora una volta l’atipicità di The Botanist.
Ascoltando la musica di Botanist ho come la sensazione che voglia esprimere un concetto molto profondo e legato direttamente alla natura, in particolare al mondo vegetale, attraverso l’utilizzo di svariate metafore. Penso che si potrebbe definire quasi 'folle' questo progetto artistico, capace di oscillare nella sottile linea che spesso divide il genio dalla pazzia.
Per quanto riguarda 'III: Doom In Blood' (sic), lo trovo come anticipato sopra un album inconcludente sotto il profilo compositivo e parecchio noioso, ma capace di ricreare sensazioni davvero uniche e generare momenti riflessivi. Riconosco a The Botanist di essere riuscito a generare come una sorta di 'mondo' nel quale l’ascoltatore può 'immergersi ed esplorarlo,' certamente un elemento da tenere in considerazione nella valutazione complessiva.
Veniamo ora a 'Allies,' secondo disco contenuto all’interno di 'III: Doom In Blood' (sic): i progetti musicali invitati da The Botanist a suonare su delle tracce di batterie realizzate in occasione delle sessioni di registrazione del suddetto album sono abbastanza simili a Botanist, anche se forse esprimono una venatura più marcatamente ambient e doom metal. Ripeto, per quanto trovi l’idea di far suonare degli amici sulle batterie del proprio progetto originale e interessante, nei brani contenuti in 'Allies' rilevo le stesse caratteristiche dei pezzi contenuti nel primo disco. Il brano maggiormente riuscito del lotto, 'Cordyceps' è proprio quello degli Ophidian Forest, band di cui fa parte in veste di batterista The Botanist.
Al termine degli ascolti di questi due album 'esco' dal sorprendente mondo di Botanist abbastanza perplesso, ma con la sensazione di essere andato incontro a qualcosa di davvero particolare e indefinibile…" -- For All Anguish, Stereo Invaders, June 29, 2012
English translation follows...
"Botanist is a decidedly atypical musical project born in 2009 in San Francisco. This is a creature created by the drummer of Ophidian Forest, "The Botanist." The music is an indefinable mix of sounds and influences, ranging from doom and black metal, ambient, with references to acoustic music and vague hints of folk. Personally, I define Botanist as avant-garde music, I think any other label would be forced.
The conceptual element is what strikes me most about this project, which is quite obviously focused on botany and nature. The use of the hammered dulcimer provides a very personal feel to some of the songs, baffling the listener at first listen. While there are glimpses of interesting musical composition (some maybe recalling some recent Ulver?), dissipation and excessive repetition often creep onto the songs of 'III: Doom in Blood,' the first of the two disks composing this album. The second CD, on which we shall return later, is called 'Allies,' being a compilation of songs made by friends of the Botanist using drums from 'III: Doom in Blood.' This idea is very original and once again confirms the atypical nature of The Botanist.
Listening to Botanist gives me the urge to express, via various metaphors, something very deep in regards to Nature, especially the vegetable world. I think one could define this art project as however 'insane,' capable of toeing the thin line between genius and madness. As for 'III: Doom In Blood,' as mentioned above, I find the album to be inconclusive compositionally and quite boring, but able to create truly unique sensations and generate thoughtful moments. I recognize The Botanist's ability to create a sort of 'world' in which the listener can 'dive in and explore' -- certainly a factor to be taken into account in the overall evaluation.
Now we come to 'Allies,' the second disc contained within 'III: Doom in Bloom': the musical projects resulting from The Botanist's invitation to friends to play to the drum tracks made during the recording sessions of this album are quite similar to Botanist, though perhaps more strongly express hints of ambient and doom metal. Again, while the idea of asking one's friends to playing to the drums of your project is original and interesting, I find the songs on "Allies" to have the same characteristics of the pieces contained in the first disc. The most successful song of the lot, 'Cordyceps,' is fittingly the work of Ophidian Forest, a band in which The Botanist is a member.
At the end of listening to these two albums I "exit" the amazing world of Botanist, rather bewildered, but with the feeling of having encountered something really special and indefinable." -- For All Anguish, Stereo Invaders, June 29, 2012
TEETH OF THE DIVINE
"I’m typically one that’s all for experimentation and avant-garde elements in music, I respect most musicians that push envelopes and boundaries with their music. However, sometimes it gets a little too much for me and that’s the case with Botanist — a one man plant-themed project delivered from the point of view of a man called ‘The Botanist.’ ‘The Botanist’ lives in fantastical world called ‘The Verdant Realm’ surrounded by plants and delivers his music in a discordant, plodding, clanging style of black/doom metal. So what we have here is some very strange, plant and flower -themed, experimental black/doom metal. Oh I forgot to mention that it includes heavy use of a hammered dulcimer as the primary instrument.
Let me let that sink in… experimental enough for you?
Like I said, I’m all for experimentation and such but I simply could not get into Botanist‘s sound, no matter how hard I tried. About the only time when the material even came close to making sense is at night with headphones, when I was in that half-asleep/half-awake phase and the lengthy atonal droning, rasps/whispers and dulcimer would simply lull me fully into sleep.
I’m sure there is a mood and place for this, but frankly I don’t think I’d ever be able to ingest enough ‘plant or vegetable matter’ (if you know what I mean) for this to really click with me. Take for example the second track, 'Deathcap,' and 5th track 'Ocimum Sanctum,' the dulcimer just grates me here and seems to barely follow any sort of chord progression, being almost purposefully off key. It truly seems as if Botanist is simply free styling and making up the songs as they/he goes along. All of the long tracks appear to be named after various plants ('Vriesa,' 'Gannoderma Lucidum,' (sic) 'Ocimum Sanctum,' 'Amanita Verosa' (sic)) and to be honest, there’s very little here in the way of actual riffs. Rather it’s a series of tracks that seem to be drum beats, some atonal guitar strumming or plucking layered with some distant rasps, moans and whispers and the aforementioned nails on a chalk board mellotron.
There is even a 2nd CD included in the package called Allies that contains 7 other equally weird, obscure bands and experimental friends of Botanist that I’ve never heard of (i.e. Matrushka, Bestiary, Arborist, Lotus Thief) giving their own (at least mellotron-less) interpretations of the drum tracks from the III: Doom in Bloom sessions. But I have be honest, I didn’t check them fully, only giving it a cursory listen, as I could barely make it through multiple listens of just III — as a second helping or other bands interpretations of Botanist already grating sounds didn’t really appeal to me. However, Cult of Linnaeus‘s track named 'The War of All Against All' did sound like a surprisingly normal death/doom lumber and Bestiary‘s 'It Lives Again' is a haunting female fronted doom number (reminding me a little of a Omit or It Will Come). But when friends’ versions of your songs — using just the drum tracks — are more memorable and far less annoying than the source material, there is an issue.
I like Total Rust Music and I like most experimental music, and I’m sure at some level somewhere, someone will get what Botanist is doing here, but it’s not me and I doubt it ever will be." E. Thomas, Teeth of the Divine, November 15, 2012
TEMPLE OF PERDITION
"I've listened to many albums over the years, some of them being in the subgenre vaguely defined as 'Avant Garde Doom' (for what it's worth or suppsoed (sic) to mean), and I've been accustomed to being surprised by some of the music bands are capable to create. Ever since I've discovered how far Metal music could go by listening to the classic 'Dawn Of Dreams' by Pan-Thy-Mo-Nium (sic) when it was first released in the early 90's, I've always looked for albums and bands capable of transcending the classic Metal canvas to create... something else. Which brings us to Botanist, a one-man band from San Francisco whose goal is to create music based on botanical science, plants and nature. At least, the thematic is original but is it the same with the music?
For Botanist has already released before a double album which was clearly influenced by the Depressive Black Metal displayed by more known bands from its town (Xasthur, Leviathan), albeit with a twist : for there are no guitars in Botanist's music, there are instead replace (sic) by a hammered dulcimer.
And this precise trick is what makes Botanist music much enjoyable : it brings a lot of dream-like elements and an atmosphere of 'reverie,' which goes well with the Black Metal elements and the Nature themes (after all, Nature and forests have been a staple in Black Metal ever since the early days of Darkthrone and Satyricon). But now, we're talking about the first double album and I'm supposed to review the new one, which is labelled as Funeral Doom; And this is where it goes wrong for me. You see, I do think that Doom Metal is much more than just slow and heavy music : if Doom Metal was just that, then I suppose that 'Still Loving You' or 'Mama I'm Coming Home' could be called Doom Metal. But, through its lyrical content and thematics, Doom is supposed to brings feeling of despair, sadness, loneliness, sorrow, fear, dread, sometimes even a bit of anger and hatred. And there's nothing here that correspond to that in any way : on this record, Botanist music is more like some slowly played Black Metal, with lyrics about plants, fungi and the like. Nothing wrong in itself, and I can understand that in some twisted ways you can find that a descriptive of the Amanita Virosa and its effects are Doom...but to me, it's just not personal : you never actually FEEL the despair and sadness of a man dying for having eaten the fungus, for example. It's just a descriptive of how the fungus can be deadly.
The hammered dulcimer is a great idea, and it brings a lot to the music but nevertheless not heaviness. The song structure is still lacking something. Some songs just change of pace without any valid reason, and there are all long ones (10 minutes+), which gives more the impression of listening to a long improvisation on a musical theme. It's typically the kind of album that'll be more enjoyed in some very precise circumstances, like wandering through a forest... There is a lot of positive elements, like athmosphere (sic) and musical originality, but it's still far from being Doom Metal : a friend of mine, after having listened to two tracks, descibed it as “AIR in their 'Virgin Suicides' era playing Black Metal”, and I do think that it's the most appropriate description to summarize the music displayed here by Botanist. It is music that will appeal to some Doom Metal fans, but I wouldn't call it Doom metal anyway.
Which brings us to the second CD of this album, aptly named 'Allies'. It is an interesting one for many reasons, the first being the way it was done : the intro and outro are some electronic music variation on the song 'Vriesa' from the 1st CD, the other ones are entirely new songs performed by friendly bands but they use EXACTLY the drums that were recorded for the Botanist part of the album, and are botanically themed. And there, we have a wide variety of music : classic Black Metal with Ophidian Forest, dreamy Post-Doom/Rock with Lotus Thief (one of the best tracks here), slow ritual Doom/Death with Cult Of Linnaeus, gothically inclined Doom with Bestiary and Doom-infused Folk with Arborist... The idea is good, the result is great. I've discovered 5 new interesting bands, some of them I'll gladly recommand and will support (mostly Lotus Thief : I didn't even knew the existence of the band before).
All in all (and I know this has been a long review, but after all it's 2 long albums), and after more than just a few spins, I consider this album to be a good release. Albeit not a Doom Metal album in my book, but you'll probably think otherwise (and I'll be damn interested in reading some different opinion than mine on this topic). Still, despite that, it has everything an open-minded Doom Metal fan may like and I'll suggest you take some close listening to it before deciding if it's your stuff or no. The concept is interesting, and I'm looking forward to hear more music from Botanist and its allies." -- Laurent Lignon, Temple of Perdition, July 9, 2012
(transcribed from the print magazine Terrorizer)
"Botanist are about as unusual a black metal prospect as you could imagine. It could be the whole Latin plant theme or the fact the album's main sonic attack is mapped out by a drumkit and a hammered dulcimer, we're not quite sure, but the project's second release takes an excursion away from its blackened doom roots and parks up in the ambient drone lay-by; think Jesu more than Emperor, but with that ever-present hammered dulcimer bringing a bit of an exotic touch to proceedings. Whilst 'III...' is surprisingly expressive and varied, it's also a bit aimless and convoluted. Still, that hammered dulcimer is damn amusing. (2/5)" -- Tom Webb, Terrorizer, August, 2012
"Non, décidément, ce disque est ennuyeux. Ennuyeux car il m’oblige à dire du mal de Botanist, formation que je respecte trop pour avoir eu envie de rester sur le sentiment mitigé que m’a donné sa troisième œuvre (raison pour laquelle la chronique de cette dernière arrive si tard). Avec le doublet I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead, Otrebor a sorti deux albums parmi les plus étranges que j’ai pu écouter, deux créations ne s’arrêtant pas à expérimenter puisque possédant la force de l’évidence, une manière d’être autrement black metal en appliquant à leur concept original un sadisme et une froideur aussi cinglants que ton groupe norvégien préféré. Quelque chose d’à part et pertinent à la fois que j’espérais voir se répéter d’une manière différente ici.
Mais non, décidément, ce disque est ennuyeux. Ennuyeux car d’une inégalité faisant hésiter sur sa qualité, où la lassitude est entrecoupée de moments séduisants et meurtriers comme sur ses deux prédécesseurs obligeant à y retourner régulièrement, au cas où. C’est que III: Doom In Bloom est, comme son nom le suggère, une immersion dans ce que Botanist offre de plus lent et lascif : le hammered dulcimer y étale ses cordes sur de longues plages tantôt contemplatives (« Ganoderma Lucidum »), tantôt d’une lourdeur transmise par une interprétation atonale (« Ocimum Sanctum »), toujours dotées d’un chant et d’une batterie chargés de varier suffisamment le propos afin que leurs mélodies cycliques ne paraissent pas répétitives. Il appelle donc des écoutes nombreuses pour vérifier si sa monotonie de surface n’est pas un moyen de corrompre comme cela est le cas lors des pistes aériennes de II: A Rose From The Dead.
Pourtant, l’impression finale est que l’engourdissement que communique III: Doom In Bloom n’est pas tant du à un état végétatif voulu par le one man band qu’à une heure et huit minutes ne parvenant pas à maintenir l’envoûtement que procure « Quoth Azalea, The Demon (Rhododendoom II) ». Bien que Botanist s’essaye aux tempos doom, il n’en a pas pour autant l’accroche permettant de supporter la douleur due à ses longs formats : les voluptés vénéneuses de « Deathcap » (clairement le meilleur morceau ici, où le ravissement naissant des sonorités cristallines du hammered dulcimer se dispute avec la tristesse de mélodies surgissant sans prévenir) finissent par laisser place à une musique linéaire et trop attachée à laisser trainer ses notes. Un titre comme « Panax » s’en trouve coincé entre passages rabotant leur victime jusqu’au couperet (les cordes mimant le son d’une lame de guillotine s’abattant sur sa proie) et instants où s’attend la reprise d’intérêt pour une œuvre parvenant de temps à autre à convaincre par son obsession à user l’auditeur mais tombant trop souvent dans l’exercice de style pour totalement charmer.
Un constat qui s’applique également aux collaborations l’escortant, Allies étant guidé par la même volonté de décliner la pensée du Botanist sans pour autant réussir à aller totalement au-delà de l’expérimentation. Partant des parties de batterie constituant III: Doom In Bloom pour créer leurs compositions, les six groupes se rencontrant lors de ces quarante-sept minutes oscillent entre le bon - Arborist et son mélange de doom et americana arrivant à marier le tragique du premier et le blues pastoral du second - et le maniéré où la tentative ne reste que tentative à l’image du binôme ambiant « The Ejaculation On The Petals Of The Femme Orchid » (Matrushka), pas loin de l’arnaque avec ses bruits sans destination particulière. A croire qu’ils aient décidé de suivre l’inconstance du longue-durée qu’ils accompagnent, Cult Of Linnaeus et Lotus Thief offrent des participations moyennes parsemées de quelques idées tapant juste avec la très Highgate « The War Of All Against All » et une « Nymphaea Carulea » ne décollant qu’avec l’arrivée d’un chant clair féminin lui donnant un côté dream pop agréable. L’intérêt pour cet essai ne dure pourtant pas plus que quelques écoutes, le tout s’encombrant de contributions ne semblant être là que pour montrer qu’Otrebor est entouré de personnes approuvant sa démarche liée aux plantes. Pour le coup, peut-être aurait-il mieux valu qu’il reste seul, même si Arborist tire clairement son épingle de ce jeu-ci.
III: Doom In Bloom déçoit là où I: The Suicide Tree et II: A Rose From the Dead réussissent à dépasser le stade de la simple appropriation curieuse pour parvenir à troubler par une atrocité cachée derrière la beauté de leur instrument principal, le hammered dulcimer. Bien qu’encore une fois mu par la volonté de prendre en traître, Botanist emploie ici une méthode trop appliquée et limitée. Ajoute à cela un Allies tenant jusqu’au bout de l’optionnel et tu comprendras pourquoi je pense que IV: Mandragora sera décisif pour savoir si, oui ou non, Otrebor sera pour moi un artiste qui aura retourné le black metal le temps de deux albums seulement. La réponse bientôt." Ikea, Thrashocore, March 23, 2013
"Botanist je junija lani sočasno izdal dva albuma oziroma dvojni prvenec The Suicide Tree in A Rose From the Dead. Oba albuma sta izšla pri založbi tUMULt, ki pokriva široko polje eksperimentalne glasbe, in skupaj sta obsegala skoraj štirideset skladb. Botanistovo delo je med ljubitelji tako ali drugače mejnih godb naletelo na navdušenje, medtem ko je v blackmetalskih krogih, iz katerih očitno izhaja, s svojim konceptualizmom in nenavadnimi aranžmaji povzročil precejšnje začudenje. Lahko bi rekli, da je Botanistov black metal namenjen ljudem, ki tega žanra običajno ne poslušajo, vendar to le ne bo držalo, saj sta se albuma znašla v vrhu številnih lestvic najboljših metalskih izdaj preteklega leta.
Pred dobrim mesecem je Botanist izdal svoj tretji album Doom in Bloom. Tudi ta je dvojen, le da tokrat na prvem ploščku lahko slišimo njegove solistične skladbe, na drugem pa pesmi, ki so nastale v sodelovanju z glasbeniki, s katerimi je igral in še vedno prijateljuje v San Franciscu. Na ploščku Allies oziroma zavezniki, za katerega nam bo danes žal zmanjkalo časa, tako lahko slišimo Botanistova nojzerska, metalska in hardkorovska sodelovanja s člani zasedb Cult of Linnaeus, Grayceon, Comadre, Creation is Crucifixion, Ophidian Forest in podobno. Člani teh zasedb na albumu Allies seveda nastopajo pod drugačnimi imeni, ki so povezana z botaniko.
Otrebor, Botanistov alter ego, ki namesto njega komunicira z javnostjo, je Botanista opisal kot – citiram – »norega znanstvenika v prostovoljnem izgnanstvu, ki se je ločil od človeštva in njegovih zločinov proti naravi” – kolikor je to pač mogoče. V svojem Zelenem kraljestvu preživlja čas v molčeči družbi rastlin, posebej rož. Iz rastlinskih stebel je spletel tudi svoj prestol, na katerem občuduje trdoživost in pestrost Klorofilnega kontinuumua in čaka na trenutek, ko se bo človeštvo samouničilo. Potem,« pravi Otrebor, »bodo na Zemlji končno spet zavladale rastline.« Najbrž ni treba dodati, da so vse pesmi na vseh Botanistovih albumih poimenovane po cvetlicah, ki so bile v predznanstvenih časih znane po svojih zdravilnih ali magičnih učinkovinah in svojem simbolnem ali mitološkem pomenu.
Botanistu je kljub medijski pozornosti uspelo ohraniti anonimnost. Kdor bo na spletu skušal najti njegovo fotografijo ali koncertni posnetek, se lahko obriše pod nosom. Našli boste samo fotografije zabrisane postave, ki v čudoviti poletni svetlobi sredi gozda igra bobne in instrument, zaradi katerega njegove melodije zvenijo tako presunljivo in znano: to so cimbale oziroma oprekelj. Oprekelj velja za predhodnika klavirja, torej strunsko glasbilo, iz katerega izvabimo zvok tako, da potolčemo na strune s palčko ali kladivcem kot to pri klavirju naredimo s pritiskom na tipko. Etnologi pravijo, da je zadnji cimbalist v Sloveniji umrl leta 1979, vendar to ne bo držalo: na eno od mnogih različic tega instrumenta, izdelano po podobah, ki so se ohranile na freskah srednjeveških cerkva, skoraj vsak dan igra starejši gospod v Jakopičevem podhodu v Ljubljani. Tudi Botanistove cimbale so izdelali po naročilu, a bolj kot to je pomembno, da se ni ustrašil njihove silno dolge zgodovine in ustaljene rabe, ki ji ustreza, temveč jih je umestil sodobno zvočno okolje, v katerem so lahko zazvenele v novi luči, ob tem pa svežino vnesle tudi v black metal in doom. Slednjima to nikakor ne škodi.
Zvok cimbal daje Botanistovi glasbi srednjeveški pridih, ki je še posebej opazen na novem albumu, saj poleg njegovega grlenega hropenja in pridušenih krikov lahko slišimo celo liturgično petje. Nova plošča je v primerjavi s starejšima počasnejša in bolj repetativna, celo zamaknjena, kakor da se je Botanist po divjih in vrtoglavih ritmičnih prehodih s prvih dveh albumov privadil na ritem, ki mu ga narekuje gozd. Drugi razlog, zakaj sem ob poslušanju njegovega novega albuma razmišljala o srednjem veku, so vzporednice med njegovim prepričanjem in idejami, po katerih so se do inkvizicije ravnali bogomili, katari in nekateri drugi heretiki: apokaliptične vizije, samotarstvo, samooskrba in spoštovanje do zdravilnih sadov narave. Skratka, pravi eko-terorizem.
Tisti, ki imate radi razgibano in hitro mešanico metala in hardkora, ki se kljub nežnim melodijam uspe izogniti patetiki, vsekakor poiščite Botanistova prva dva albuma. Danes poslušamo njuno antitezo: izbor sklad s plošče z več kot zgovornim naslovom Doom in Bloom." Tea Hvala, Tolpa Bumov, July 21, 2012
YOU ARE A GHOST
"Alguno de ustedes recordará al personaje Poison Ivy de los comics de Batman, esa súper villana y eco terrorista, cuyo objetivo principal es la propagación de la vida vegetal, pues bien, regocijemos nuestros espíritus, porque el creador de uno de los más enigmáticos discos del año pasado está de regreso, y no estamos hablando precisamente de que Poison Ivy haya formado un grupo, estamos hablando de The Botanist, proyecto musical de un solo miembro con ciertos acercamientos al black metal, bendito black metal, gracias por abrir los ojos, las mentes y los odios a tantos y tantos músicos!
The Botanist nos trae este año su disco 'III: Doom In Bloom,' donde el desconocido músico agrega ahora su propia versión del doom, a su ya de por si muy personal versión del black metal, no es necesario quebrarnos la cabeza pensando en la identidad de The Botanist, tal vez ni es humano, tal vez es una planta humanoide como el célebre personaje, también de comics The Swamp Thing, que el gran Alan Moore hiciera famoso a través de sus historias, lo que tenemos aquí es una mutación bastante interesante que añade algunos elementos adicionales de ambient y de shoegaze, con un The Botanist valiéndose únicamente de su batería y de algunos teclados, Quoth Azalea, The Demon, el primer tema de inmediato nos toma con la guardia baja, The Botanist introduce una elevada dosis de melodía a su proyecto, se aleja un tanto de los extremos y su desgarradora voz se torna en apenas un suspiro, su trabajo en el piano es emotivo y su omnipresente batería (y como no, el tipo es baterista) retumba en todo momento.
Deathcap nuevamente es un tema expansivo/minimalista y que difícil poder definir esta música de esta manera, por un lado tenemos el paso fúnebre tan característico del doom, por otro lado el inusual acompañamiento del piano, la ambición propagada del shoegaze y por si fuera poco las torturadas vocales que esta vez se explayan al máximo, el paso lento y esas líneas de piano construyen una delicada, dramática y épica trama que de inmediato nos atrapa, pone las cartas sobre la mesa y echa de la habitación al escucha casual, ciertamente The Botanist no es para todos los gustos, los puristas del black metal serán los primeros en huir despavoridos, pero los pocos que se queden serán recompensados con el tremendo viaje musical que nos brinda este proyecto.
Ganoderma Lucidum continúa la misma línea de ritmos lentos y atmósferas lúgubres, si no deprimentes, con un The Botanist golpeando duro sus tambores y marcando el paso, con esos golpes de tecla punteando la melodía, deteniendo el avance repentinamente y conteniendo el paso, agrega un paso militar al inicio de Vriesea y regresa a las voces susurradas para añadir una atmósfera fantasmal, la melodía nuevamente es bien llevada y pareciera una dilución de las feroces guitarras del black metal traducidas aquí de una forma completamente nueva, la música ha mutado y evolucionado de una manera tan impresionante que muchos amantes delshoegaze sin duda podrán aceptarla, pero en si todo el concepto de The Botanist veo difícil pueda trascender más allá del underground y aunque el resto del disco es rescatable y en ningún momento pierde la dirección, si podemos destacar, negativamente, que este disco pierde algo de fuerza e intensidad al final, tal vez son esas detestables restricciones inherentes en el doom, un genero que reniega de la evolución en cierta manera, y que a diferencia del black metal, prefiere no evolucionar y mantenerse en su caparazón.
Un trabajo que si bien termina cansando un poco al final, Panax, tema que hace una curiosa conexión con los Earth de Dylan Carlson, tarda eternidades en llegar y salvar el final de este disco, aún así es una clara muestra del deseo de crecer y evolucionar de un genero altamente volátil e inestable, que un día masacra animales y se baña en sangre y al otro busca salvar al mundo." -- Ghostwriter, You Are a Ghost, August 23, 2012
Some of you may remember Poison Ivy, the eco-terrorist super villain from the Batman comics. Her main goal is the propagation of plant life. Well, our spirits rejoice as the creator of one of the most enigmatic albums from last year is back, and it's not the band that Poison Ivy formed, but rather of Botanist, the musical one-man project with certain approaches to the black metal style, blessed black metal, who thankfully opened the eyes, minds and scorn of so many musicians!
This year, Botanist presents 'III: Doom in Bloom," in which the unknown musician displays his own personal vision of doom to his already very personal version of black metal. We needn't rack our brains trying to figure out The Botanist's identity -- he might not be human, he might be a humanoid plant like that famous character, also like from the Swamp Thing comics, which the great Alan Moore made famous through his stories. What we have here is a pretty interesting mutation that brings together various additional elements of ambient and shoegaze, with The Botanist using only his drums and some keyboards.
'Quoth Azalea, the Demon,' the first song, takes us immediately off guard, introducing a high dose of melody, distancing itself from extremes, and the heartbreaking voice becomes barely a whisper; his work on the piano is emotive, and the omnipresent drums (he's a drummer, after all) resounds at all times.
'Deathcap's expansive/minimalist theme makes it difficult to define this music in this way, as on one hand there is the funeral pace so characteristic of doom, but on the other hand there is the unusual piano accompaniment, the propagated ambition of shoegaze, and last but not least the tortured vocals that this time around dilate to the maximum, the slow tempo and those piano lines construct a delicate, dramatic and epic plot that catches us immediately, put the cards on the table and exits the realm of casual listening.
Certainly, Botanist is not for everyone. Black metal purists will be the first to flee in terror, but the few who remain will be rewarded with the tremendous musical journey that this project offers.
'Ganoderma Lucidum' continues with the same slow rhythms and lugubrious, if not depressing, atmosphere, with The Botanist hitting his drums hard and setting the pace, as the keyboard hits punctuate the melody. Suddenly, a military rhythm at the beginning of 'Vriesea' interrupts the pace as the susurrating vocals return to create a ghostly atmosphere. The melody, again, is well done and makes it sound like a dilution of black metal's ferocious guitars, translated here in a completely new form. The music has mutated and evolved in such an impressive manner that many shoegaze fans will no doubt be able to accept it. However, I believe it will be difficult for the entire Botanist concept to transcend the underground, and although the rest of the album is worthy and in no way loses its focus, we will point out that the album does lose steam and intensity by the end -- it might be due to the detestable restrictions inherent to doom, a genre that rejects evolution to a certain extent, and that in contrast to black metal, prefers not to evolve and to stay in its shell.
'III' is a work that ends a bit on a tired note by the final song, 'Panax,' whose theme makes a curious connection with Dylan Carlson's Earth. Although it takes forever to get to the end of the disc, it still remains as a clear effort to grow and evolve out of a highly volatile and unstable genre that one day will massacre animals and bathe itself in blood, all the while looking to save the world." -- Ghostwriter, You Are a Ghost, August 23, 2012
(transcribed from the print magazine Zero Tolerance)
"Listening to III: Doom in Bloom, it's still possible to see the threads of sound that made Botanist's music once sit fairly comfortably under the experimental black or doom metal umbrella. This one-man dulcimer-and-drums project, helmed by the ascetic Otrebor, has grown considerably more ambitious, more beautiful, and more minimally magnificent in the gap between 2011's well-received debut and now.
The melodies are strong enough to see Botanist find a much bigger audience; this album feels like a crossover that's refused to even contemplate the concept of compromise. Will a mainstream metal or even a mainstream music audience be able to accomodate vernal-deity / eco-terrorism concept albums?
The only real ties left attached to black metal are the occasional vocals -- throat-wrecked growls, rasps, and cracked murmurs. This Botanist record is somewhere else entirely genre-wise.
There's a second disc with III: Doom in Bloom, titled Allies, and it's something of a odd backwards-step. Giving unused drum tracks to a handful of collaborators and letting them do with them what they wilt (as long as it was plant-themed / related), this disc is much more typical and, unfortunately, average material. The main disc, though? An instant Absolute Classic. (4.5/5)" -- Scott McKeating, Zero Tolerance, August/September, 2012
"Dezer dagen moet je opvallen om opgepikt te worden. Dat is al langer zo, maar "dezer dagen" gebruiken in een review maakt het allemaal wat actueler. Los daarvan - of net niet - valt Botanist wel op. Omwille van zijn hoge wtf-gehalte nam ik het al tot mij, met onduidelijke resultaten. Nu komt de band opnieuw uit op het Israëlische label Total Rust. Een dubbelaar is het geworden, waarbij de tweede disc een hoop "covers" bevat van kennissen en vrienden, wellicht ook vreemden, die een eerbetoon brengen door de eerste schijf vol te jammen op eigen wijze. Denk ik. Ja toch?
Botanist dus. Op een van de velletjes gescheurd papier bij de promo staat vermeld "experimental doom". Zover was ik zelf ook al, maar mijn gevoel zat voor een stuk vast bij post-rockende blackies die hip uit de hoek willen komen. Dezer dagen scoort zoiets namelijk wel. Bij deze plaat/band maakt dat geen sikkepit uit. De "aggro-akoestische" muziek combineert slomo-doom met grimmige sneren uit de blackwereld netjes met post-rockende dreun-en-deining, waarbij je een hoop trip ontwaren kunt, plantaardige weliswaar, uiteraard, inderdaad. Wanneer je het tekstboekje erbij neemt maak je pas echt kans om er volledig in te blijven. Onheilspellende planten (zoals de Rhododendoom) bezweren je, maken je onderdanig, dwingen je tot fertilisatie, laten het Latijn in je openbloeien. Fascinatie alom.
Dit plaatje verveelt geen seconde wanneer de zon ondergaat, wanneer de rook door de kamer golft, wanneer je niet weet of het nu heel erg laat of vroeg is. Los van de hoeveelheid alkaloïde stoffen in de muziek en/of omgeving wil ik deze band best wel beter leren kennen. Ene Bastiaan De Vries - die ook het logo ontwierp - werkte mee aan deze plaat, wie hem kent, stuur mij even zijn aardse coördinaten door en dat maken we hier een vervolg aan. Bij voorbaat dank." -- Bart Alfvoet, Zware Metalen, August 7, 2012