Botanist - I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead [tUMULt - 2011]Botanist is a one man black metal project from the Bay area of the USA, and they create a very distinctive & one off sound with a very unusually set of sonic tools. The project uses just drums, vocals, and most unusually a Hammered Dulcimer. This double CD album is seemingly the projects first release, and it certainly gives one a very unequal & grimly usually take on the blacked metal form.
The projects sound here is mainly fairly clamouring & fast in it's execution, with slight detours into more mid-paced atmospheric moments here & there. Sonically the tracks are a mixture of galloping ‘n’ battering drums, melodic yet mostly manic Hammered Dulcimer attacks and rasping guttural black metal vocals- all which creates an interesting mix of manic harmony & grim dissonance. Most of the 40 tracks on offer here are short, sharp & violently gothic in there attacks. For the most part the tracks run between a minute & a half and just under the three minute mark, through there are a few tracks which break over the five minute mark.
Theme wise both of the albums are grounded in eco-terrorist & the love of flowers/ plants. The two disc come packaged in a thick cd sized gatefold that features a 12 page lyric booklet that features elegant drawings/ coloured prints of all manner of flowers & plants.
With out doubt both CDs here offer up an very original take on black metal, and there are some moments of real greatness here.. in particular when the pace slows a little. But sadly for the most part I felt many of the tracks on offer here where more than a little interchangeable, samey & not varied enough. Through-out both of the disc it often feels like the same tracks speedy by you again & again, and when interesting or more atmospheric moments appear they are offten quickly pulled away from you for more clamouring attacks.
So to sum Botanist are certainly offering something new & distinctive to the black metal scene, but it’s a pity they haven’t managed to vary thier sound or pace much over this two disc set. Sure this is an effective & orignal opening shot, and it will be of interest to those who enjoy off-kilter blacked metal fair….just don’t expect to be too blown away by compositional variation or change of pace.Roger Batty