Rating:
N/A
Botanist - IV: Mandragora
19 February 2013


01. Arboreal Gallows (Mandragora I)
02. Nightshade (Mandragora II)
03. To Amass An Army (Mandragora III)
04. Nourishing The Fetus (Mandragora IV)
05. Mandrake Legion (Mandragora V)
06. Sophora Tetraptera
07. Rhyncholaelia Glauca


Botanist: self-proclaimed by its sole mind, Roberto "Otrebor" Martinelli, otherwise known as "The Botanist," as "eco-terrorist black metal." His first effort, I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose From The Dead appeared back in 2011 like a gargantuan banyan tree falling over onto the roof of a multimillion-dollar mansion. All of a sudden there appeared in the black metal scene a bizarre, hyper-environmentalist mixture of vocals, drums, and hammered dulcimerů notably quite a lot of that last one, actually. Otrebor would go on to refine the spontaneous and dulcimer-laden sound of his debut with last year's III: Doom In Bloom, which as the title suggests, had a lot more of a doom-ish vibe to it, with a more cohesive sense of composition as well. And now, in 2013, Otrebor is back, ready to assault your senses once more with his bizarre form of one man black metal and joyous songs of mutant plant creatures crawling into your eardrums.

So on what path does Otrebor take Botanist's tangled twigs and anti-human crusading this time around? Well, fans of more orthodox black metal sound rejoice, because IV: Mandragora, Botanist's third studio effort, is probably the closest the project has yet come to a more typical, straightforward black metal sound. Even more tightly knit than Doom In Bloom and far more so than the double album debut, Botanist's 2013 effort is comprised largely of the 5-part titular track, a pleasingly bizarre mix of very froglike, Inquisition-type vocals ("Arboreal Gallows"), a haunting bass line for the first time ("Nightshade"), and distorted dulcimer. Wait, what did he just say?!

That's right: with round four of Botanist's material, the dulcimer is actually distorted, and this is probably the one thing in particular that gives the album more of an actual black metal sound, or just more of a "metal" sound in general. It's a small alteration turned into a gigantic leap, and this is actually an incredibly intelligent musical technique, because with a project such as Botanist that really only makes use of drums, vocals, and the dulcimer, the slightest change in the formula of such minimal instrumentation can make a monumental difference, and such is the case with Mandragora. The distortion combined with the harsh vocal delivery creates quite the intense vibe at points, especially when blended with the faster drum patterns on tracks like "Sophora Tetraptera" and "Mandrake Legion."

In short, the fourth chapter of Botanist's pantheistic saga of praising plants while abhorring the human species is both a regression as well as an evolution. Mandragora can even be thought of as something of a fusion, if you'd like, between the first and second albums. The chaos of The Suicide Tree/A Rose From The Dead is there in the now-distorted dulcimer that sounds more evil than ever, and yet so is the more doomy, melancholic atmosphere of Doom In Bloom, especially on the beautiful ballady nature of "To Amass An Army" and towards the middle of closing track "Rhyncholaelia Glauca." If you haven't enjoyed Botanist's prior material, then there's a pretty low probability that you'll enjoy Mandragora, which sticks to the same core, off-the-wall sound even with its leap forward with the distorted dulcimer. But if you've enjoyed Botanist's previous work, and can't wait to see other seeds he has planted in his garden for this year, then you need to get on a listen to Mandragora immediately, preferably within the vicinity of some mandrakes, if readily available.


Band profile: Botanist
Album: IV: Mandragora


 



Written on 05.04.2013 by
Apothecary
"Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a master. But without innovation, it is a corpse."
-Winston Churchill
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3rdWorld - 05.04.2013 at 06:23  
Really well written review. This is a really solid album and I am looking forward to the next series of albums (which he has already planned) in all its full floral glory.
spirit_inblack - 05.04.2013 at 06:25  
As someone who studies plants and possesses the same fascination with them, and has been listening to Botanist since the beginning, I can safely say that upon hearing each subsequent release, I get very enthralled by what is going to come next. Nevertheless, I/II will always be my favourite. I've even shared the band with botany friends that aren't into much metal or experimental music in general, and the pervading opinion is that the music and concepts of Botanist are absolutely wicked.
Apothecary - 05.04.2013 at 06:46  
Written by spirit_inblack on 05.04.2013 at 06:25

As someone who studies plants and possesses the same fascination with them, and has been listening to Botanist since the beginning, I can safely say that upon hearing each subsequent release, I get very enthralled by what is going to come next. Nevertheless, I/II will always be my favourite. I've even shared the band with botany friends that aren't into much metal or experimental music in general, and the pervading opinion is that the music and concepts of Botanist are absolutely wicked.

Pretty cool that you can get into the music on a deeper level because of that interest. Doom In Bloom, the second album (third really, since the debut was a double) is my favorite at the moment, love the doomy vibe and the whole melancholic atmosphere. And to 3rdWorld: yeah, from what I've read, he's already got 4 or 5 more in the making. If he keeps up the consistency, this whole series of albums will probably become a staple for experimental black metal in years to come.
blackmamba - 06.04.2013 at 09:39  
Eco-terrorist black metal?? holy sh*t that definitely took me by surprise. This gets a 10 in originality no question
qlacs - 06.04.2013 at 18:16  
Terr ible.
Daggon - 14.04.2013 at 07:12  
Who said Black Metal is dead? This is a great example of how refreshing an album can be for an entire genre.
This album is easy to digest, yet more entertaining than most albums of black metal nowadays.
This is when I ask myself why I didn't listen to this guy before?
Apothecary - 14.04.2013 at 17:57  
Written by Daggon on 14.04.2013 at 07:12

Who said Black Metal is dead? This is a great example of how refreshing an album can be for an entire genre.
This album is easy to digest, yet more entertaining than most albums of black metal nowadays.
This is when I ask myself why I didn't listen to this guy before?

One man black metal bands have come a long way since the days of Burzum, for sure. These days they're usually where you can find some of the most unique and all-around original composition in metal in my opinion, since the guys they're structured around have to create such a singular identity because it's just them. Check out The Ruins Of Beverast, Elysian Blaze, Cloak Of Altering, Leviathan, and The Fall Of Every Season, if you want some good one man black metal. Also, if you're looking for some really off the wall shit, you can always peek at my "Best Of Unconventional Black Metal" list
Daggon - 15.04.2013 at 18:19  
Written by Apothecary on 14.04.2013 at 17:57

One man black metal bands have come a long way since the days of Burzum, for sure. These days they're usually where you can find some of the most unique and all-around original composition in metal in my opinion, since the guys they're structured around have to create such a singular identity because it's just them. Check out The Ruins Of Beverast, Elysian Blaze, Cloak Of Altering, Leviathan, and The Fall Of Every Season, if you want some good one man black metal. Also, if you're looking for some really off the wall shit, you can always peek at my "Best Of Unconventional Black Metal" list


Yeah, I agree, one-man bands are mostly special or unique, but many bands are special without being a one-man band, take for example bands like A Forest Of Stars or Oranssi Pazuzu, which by the way, are on your list haha.

There are some really great albums on your list, I'll be sure to check those that I don't know.
Mr. Blonde - 03.05.2013 at 21:57  
I don't really like black metal, or hippies for that matter. But this review was so well written and the concept of the Botanist is so intriguing that I shall have to give this a listen.
Apothecary - 03.05.2013 at 23:49  
Written by Mr. Blonde on 03.05.2013 at 21:57

I don't really like black metal, or hippies for that matter. But this review was so well written and the concept of the Botanist is so intriguing that I shall have to give this a listen.

Thanks for the kind words man, glad I could convert you lol

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