Botanist belongs in this new generation of black metal bands, of acts attempting to reinvigorate the genre by expanding its scope. Post-rock influences and avantgarde notions find their way into Botanist's music, leading to a very successful series of releases, with 2014's VI: Flora standing out in particular. At the same time, stylistically the band departed from not only the traditional extreme metal instrumentation, implementing the hammered dulcimer instead of guitars, but also lyrically, the focus has shifted to an ecological perspective, where the Botanist entity aims to bring about the end of mankind due to its destruction of the environment.
The one-man project of Otrebor has been extremely successful in conveying all these messages, and has also been very productive, releasing new music every year since 2011. But, it seems like the six full-length albums and three EPs might have taken a slight toll on the creativity of the mainman, and therefore for The Shape of He To Come, Otrebor employs the help of his live band to build the record. As a result, this is a slight different beast from the previous Botanist works, retaining a significant portion of the black metal DNA, but at the same time diluting it further with melodic tendencies, diverse elements and a strong post-metal attitude.
The dissonant and traditional black metal spirit still remains, magnificently presented in the opening track, where the harsh vocal delivery echoes through the desolate space. The same quality is found in an even more brutal representation in the title track, as the blastbeats come through and the textural lead work appears. However, it is the melodic element that becomes the prime focus of this work, and that is highlighted in the very intro of the record, “Praise Azalea The Adversary” with the solitary dulcimer setting a sorrowful tone, and yet containing an underlying sense of optimism.
Using the post-metal tendencies, the collective is able to awaken an epic quality for their music, that ties in perfectly with the harsher black metal origin. The title track features this element, especially when the clean vocals arrive. It is a quality that truly fits the “green” narrative the band presents, and allows the composition to further flourish under its light, no matter if they do so under melodic leads or a more dissonant edge. “Upon Veltheim's Throne Shall I Wait” for instance, presents the darkest and more harsh moment of the record, still using a lot of melodies, but through tis slower pace it is able to create a sinister outlook around them.
Despite the stylistic changes, also brilliantly brought forth in the two most melodic moments of the album, “And The World Throws off its Oppressors” and “To Join The Continuum,” the magic that made Botanist's music so unique is still present. The uncanny ability to elevate their music through the ethereal qualities they append to it is something astonishing, and the songwriting process has been significantly reworked to further accommodate that notion. The tracks are longer, and Botanist spend more time intricately exploring them, twisting them to their will and building a cohesive narrative for them. “The Reconciliation of Nature and Man” is such a moment where the melodic and hopeful qualities are crushed through an uncanny twist, becoming abrupt, brutal and uncompromising. This adventurous outlook has greatly benefited the creativity of Botanist, and it has opened another chapter for their next steps.
Posted March 24, 2015, 5:25 a.m.
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