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Botanist : III: Doom in Bloom

Botanist's sophomore isn't a pleasant record just because it's all about flowers, and it isn't much like the last one either.

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, '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.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
Disc 1
1. Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)
2. Deathcap
3. Ganoderma Lucidum
4. Vriesea
5. Ocimum Sanctum
6. Amanita Virosa
7. Panax

Disc 2
1. The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid, Part 1
2. The War of All Against All
3. Cordyceps
4. Total Entarchy
5. Nymphaea Carulea
6. It Lives Again
7. The Ejaculate on the Petals of the Femme Orchid, Part 2

Duration : Approx. 115 minutes

Visit the Botanist bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-08-11 by doom-metal.com
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