Ecosystem by BotanistRelease date: November 8, 2019
Label: Aural Music
Botanist appear from the undergrowth with Ecosystem, an intriguing new record of their trademark zithery, plant-supremacist black metal. I’ve enjoyed them live (dressed in sacks emblazoned with seed-based sigils) and on record, and have watched with interest to see if they can make full use of a enormous potential in their unusual dulcimer-based instrumentation and unique ‘green metal’ world-making.
The dulcimers are an inspired touch, at the centre of a distinctive sonic signature which nevertheless supplies the now shimmering, now juddering effect at the foundation of black metal and post-rock. At the same time, the old-fashioned instrument lends a kind of old-timey Americana despite the amplification, again chiming with black metal’s paradoxically electric rejection of modernity, here spiralled into a further dimension by the lyrics and themes of ‘humanity’s self-eradication, which will allow plants to make the earth green again’.
In ‘Disturbance’ for example, they perform the jimmering slow scale descents before splintering into creepers and roots off in all directions, and in the following track provide a melancholic fragile intro, two notes that are enriched by the intertwined harmonic strings before a shocking burst. Vocals are split between barking growls and joined-up, calm choral moans, with phrases leaping out about translucent secretions. Actually it’s really effective when they join up as for a brief section in ‘Acclimation’, about the evergreen. Later on ‘Abiotic’ there are more variations on the vocal style, almost an elegiac ballad if such a thing can take place within ecological dulcimer post-metal. I guess it can… For my taste I’d rather have tracks like this a tiny bit less full of vocals to let the weird strings take centre stage, but in any case its still a completely unique take on contemporary underground style. ‘Red Crown’ for example finishes the record with the most epic-sounding soundworld, perfect for watching the apocalypse from the mad scientist’s natural-world lair.
Unusual instrumentation makes for an intriguing record, as the Botanist project grows into maturity and bears fruit.