Botanist – Collective: The Shape of He to Come (Avantgarde)

Tuesday, 5th September 2017
Rating: 8/10

Self-proclaimed ‘green metal’ one-man act Botanist has done something interesting and out of the norm for the usually odd entity – he formed a full-fledged band (or collective, we should say). In doing so, rejuvenated the Botanist sound a bit by adding more dynamics and sounds to the mix.

For those unaware, Botanist is already a unique entity, utilizing a hammered dulcimer instead of guitar to navigate the waters. What’s interesting here on The Shape of He to Come, is that the use of bass guitar. Of all the additions by forming the collective, this one is what really makes the music feel more full, and helps when the band reaches for the heavier end. The hammered dulcimer still commands the charge though, providing both some gorgeous melodies and eerie darkness. Botanist has always thrived by providing that dissonant yet sweeping quality, and here those feelings are amplified by the use of a more fleshed out approach. One of the album’s most striking features is that of Bezaelith’s (also of Lotus Thief) vocals. Soaring and impactful, they have a tendency to leave a memorable impact whenever they are used, either solo or in part of the group chanting that comes out in a few spots. These choir vocals work well, often enhancing the mood of the songs into something that feels more spiritual in tone (see “Upon Veltheim’s Throne”). There’s some harsh vocals as well, which aren’t the usual froggy croaks but more bellowing and powerful – also a pleasant addition.

As Flora seemed to be the pinnacle for the solo Botanist approach, this collective work brings in a refreshing tone that still feels like a genuine Botanist effort but with an expanded palette. As more collective releases are still coming in the pipeline, there’s a new spark of interest in where it could head from here.

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