Reviews of Ecosystem




Dead Rhetoric

Everything Is Noise

Heavy Blog Is Heavy

Immodest Webzine (Italian)

Infernal Masquerade

Kvlt Kolvm

Merchants of Air (German)

Metal Art (French)

Metal Injection

Metal Storm

Scholomance (French)

Sound Not the Word, The

Sputnik Musik

Streetclip (German)

Thrashocore (French)

Zware Metalen (Dutch)






"After nearly getting hives and having to puncture my eardrums to make the sound stop with Botanist “I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead” release back in 2011, I have seen the band from afar evolve their sound and actually saw them play live once. Arriving to our inbox, we have “Ecosystem”, the band’s latest offering through Aural Music. Hearing the band with a new perspective after 8 years, we have to say that their sound now seems more cohesive and engaging, completely changing our initial shock reaction to their music.

Opening with “Biomass”, the hammered dulcimer creates a very unique and chaotic atmosphere, nicely exacerbated by the harsh screams. We are quite surprised by the contrast created by the angelic clean vocals in tracks like “Alluvial”, were they nicely change the mood of the track until the following hellish onslaught of harsh vocals and fast paced drums appear. Creating a very tense and dramatic atmosphere, the ravaging dulcimer makes “Harvestman” one of the best songs in this release.

With the overall concept of this being about the ecosystems of the redwood forest in the West coast of the USA, the band’s lyrical context is definitely one of the most unique out there. Tracks like “Sphagnum”, “Disturbance” and “Acclimation” nicely set a very harrowing mood, that is somewhat soothed at times thanks to the clean vocal arrangements and the instrumental passages. The folky “Abiotic” is an interesting piece that shows a very different side of the band.

Closing with the intense “Red Crown”, we are left actually quite surprised with “Ecosystem” and its uniquely complex music. Things feel less random and more cohesive than before (our only reference is their first release), making Botanist’s music quite unique and engaging. While we are not fully converted into the band’s style and sound, we can appreciate how ‘out of the box’ their sound and lyrical context is and are sure that many others will appreciate. If you are looking for a truly unique musical experience, be sure to get yourself a copy of this release." -- Dark Emperor, Infernal Masquerade, September 26, 2019

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"Botanist has been going for 10 years strong this year, and are offering what might be their best record to date. Botanist will release Ecosystemon October 25, and we're thrilled to debut the lead single "Disturbance" for you all today. According to the band themselves, '"Disturbance" is track 5 off of Ecosystem. It’s about how redwood trees not only are resilient to fire, but in fact thrive off naturally occurring blazes.'

As for the music, Botanist sounds as unsettling and anguished as ever. Doubly so as this was written and recorded by Botanist's live lineup, as opposed to the solo works of Otrebor." -- Greg Kennelty, Metal Injection, September 12, 2019

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"The question of whether Botanist are black metal shouldn’t matter. Their unique take on metal most definitely fits into the “post” part of post-black metal, featuring as it does no guitars and with the distinctive sound of the hammered dulcimer instead taking centre stage. Botanist’s core sound is well established by now, and Ecosystem is unlikely to win over anyone who has previously not enjoyed their music; but it also represents a distinctive growth of Botanist, both sonically and conceptually. Written by the band’s current live line-up rather than solely by main member Otrebor, the sound of the Verdant Realm continues to grow, with Ecosystem presenting a new frontier in the self-styled realm of green metal.

There has always been a melancholy in Botanist’s sound, largely in thanks to the tones of the hammered dulcimer that possess an inherent beauty and sadness; and that aspect very much comes to the fore on Ecosystem. It is more spacious than previous Botanist releases, with a greater use of clean vocals, which gives the album a more overt humanity than most previous records have had. And whilst a sense of righteous fury is never far away, due to the frequent use of shrieked vocals and frequent blast-beats, it is a mournful anger, as if in lament of a world that has been lost or is in the process of simply away. Given the themes of Botanist’s music – nature as a vengeful spirit upon mankind, bringing down humanity so that the world may save itself – this is to be expected, and is a fitting soundtrack for our times, as the Anthropocene era sees humanity slowly strangle itself, and so many innocent species, to death.

All of which could lead to the conclusion that Ecosystem is a difficult record to listen to. It’s certainly true that the hammered dulcimer’s sound is one that, in the wrong mood, will come across as jarring rather than bright and strong, and that the more pastoral elements to the music – especially when the clean vocals come to the fore – can present a challenge. Yet Ecosystem is also an easy record to slip into, when the mood is right. Approached in the right frame of mind, this is an album that will eat up the hours, taking you away to another, better realm, where the poison in the air and corruption in the water can be undone; where global extinction does not seem inevitable for all life on the planet. This sense of contradiction, between a wrathful spirit and beautiful music, is at the heart of Botanist’s sound, and it is as effective as ever on Ecosystem.

It is fitting in a thematic sense that Ecosystem is a further evolution of Botanist’s sound. A band once perceived as a curio has now firmly established itself as one of experimental music’s most reliable acts, regardless of exact sub-genre. Ecosystem feels like the next step along that long journey; one that is tinged with melancholy, but also a sense of renewal and progress, as painful as that can be at times. There is a catharsis to be found in this combination of beauty and hostility that Botanist create, and there is no sign that that will change any time soon." -- The Sound Not The Word, September 16, 2019

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"Op de dag van vandaag lijkt iedereen – en terecht – erg begaan te zijn met de aardbol, de natuur en de ecosystemen om ons heen. Nu, er zijn zelfs bands, zelfs blackmetalbands, die vanuit deze thematiek heel hun filosofie opgebouwd hebben en dit zowel muzikaal als tekstueel. De Amerikaanse band Botanist is er opnieuw één om aan dit lijstje toe te voegen.

Zou de band dit Ecosystem, hun nieuwste telg, volledig opgenomen hebben tussen het gebladerte ergens in de diepe bossen van Redwood National Forest? Moet toch geweldig zijn om dat zo te kunnen doen. Of de dieren in het donkere bos daar blij mee gaan zijn is een andere vraag, maar het idee alleen al is het overdenken waard. Want zeg nu zelf, als ecoblackmetalband ga je toch niet in een bedompte studio zitten waarbinnen het C02-level hoog oploopt. Zo hoog oploopt tot op een bepaald moment je creatieve en sturende brein alleen nog maar rommel creëert?

Fascinerend doorheen dit hele album is, naast bovenstaande bedenkingen, de muzikale uitwerking. Zo krijg je niet de klassieke gitaar te horen, je hebt wel de drum en bas zoals je ze kent, je hebt ook de screams zoals je ze kent, ondersteunt door feeërieke samenzang, maar de gitaar wordt grotendeels vervangen door de hammered dulcimer. Een snaarinstrument dat je bespeelt met hammertjes, een soort citer. De gitaar wordt zo nu en dan ook vervangen door het harmonium of het traporgel. Dit creëert natuurlijk een aparte sfeer en past perfect binnen het concept. Knap gedaan. Nu, de andere kant van het verhaal is natuurlijk wel dat deze klanken je misschien niet helemaal lekker in de gehoorgang liggen en je wat ongemakkelijk wordt. Althans dat is het gene wat ik bij mezelf merk.

Voor mij heeft het bitter weinig met black metal te maken, maar klinkt deze plaat eerder als een onsamenhangend geheel van geluiden, geschreeuw en cleane vocalen waarvan de lijnen maar moeilijk te volgen zijn.

Volgens mij is Botanist gewoon verloren gelopen in het grote Redwood Forest. Als je ze wil gaan zoeken mag het voor mij, de coördinaten staan hieronder. Ik geef nog even mee dat drummer Daturus onder zijn eigen naam, Ron Bertrand, de partijen inspeelt op de nieuwe Dawn Of Ouroboros, veel interessanter! (65/100)" -- Ioris Meeuwissen, Zware Metalen, September 30, 2019


"To this day, everyone seems - and rightly so - to be very concerned about the globe, nature and the ecosystems around us. Now, there are even bands, even black metal albums, who have built up their entire philosophy from this theme, both musically and textually. The American bandBotanist is again one to add to this list.

Would the band have fully integrated this  Ecosystem , their newest member, among the foliage somewhere in the deep forests of the Redwood National Forest? Must be great to be able to do that. Whether the animals in the dark forest will be happy with that is another question, but the idea alone is worth considering. Because say for yourself, as an ecoblack metal band you don't go to a stuffy studio where the C02 level runs high.Going so high until at a certain point your creative and controlling brain only creates clutter?

Fascinating throughout this album is, in addition to the above considerations, the musical effect. This way you don't get to hear the classical guitar, you do have the drum and bass as you know them, you also have the screams as you know them, supported by fairy-tale singing together, but the guitar is largely replaced by the hammered dulcimer. A stringed instrument that you play with hammers, a kind of zither. Every now and then the guitar is replaced by the harmonium or the pedal organ. This naturally creates a distinct atmosphere and fits perfectly within the concept. Well done. Now, the other side of the story, of course, is that these sounds may not be completely comfortable in the ear canal and you will become a bit uncomfortable. At least that is what I notice in myself.

For me it has very little to do with black metal, but rather this album sounds like an incoherent whole of sounds, screams and clean vocals whose lines are difficult to follow.

I think Botanist just got lost in the great Redwood Forest. If you want to search for them you can do it for me, the coordinates are below. I also add that drummer Daturus, under his own name, Ron Bertrand, plays the parts on the new Dawn Of Ouroboros , much more interesting!(65/100)" -- Ioris Meeuwissen, Zware Metalen, September 30, 2019

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