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Botanist - VIII: Selenotrope review

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Band: Botanist
Album: VIII: Selenotrope
Release date: May 2023

01. Against The Selenic Light
02. Risen From The Rain
03. Epidendrum Nocturnum
04. Mirabilis
05. Angel's Trumpet
06. Selenotrope
07. Sword Of The Night
08. The Flowering Dragon

If the freezing moon can curse humans, maybe it can curse plants as well. But Selenotrope is all but freezing.

Most of the music that we cover here is some combination of distorted guitars, bass, drums, clean and harsh vocals, and even some synths if we're feeling especially melodic. But there are some bands that switch things up a bit. Some do it by adding an extra instrument, like Wolvennest's theremin, Shining (NOR)'s saxophone, My Dying Bride's violin, Tribunal's cello, and folk metal bands like Eluveitie or Arkona fill that space with a variety of stuff like hurdy gurdys, pan flutes, bagpipes, and whatever comes in between. But there's an even more daring instrumental pallete switch-up which challenges the electric guitar's stranglehold. It's Apocalyptica's cellos. It's Wreche's pianos. And, for the purposes of this review, it's Botanist's hammered dulcimer.

Alright, it's already old news that the hammered dulcimer is Botanist's entire shtick, and mentioning it would fit for pretty much all of their albums. What about Selenotrope? What sets it apart? Well, fitting with the album's nocturnal theme, with selenotrope referring to plants that flower in moonlight, there's something quite different in the vibe of the album. The band has been straying away from black metal by introducing post-rock elements from as far back as Flora, but I don't remember a Botanist album feeling as light and serene as this one. While black metal elements still linger, they're mostly morphed into blackgaze, like a tea that infused for much longer in a sea of bliss. Most noticeably clean vocals, from whispers to choirs, make up most of the vocal side of the album.

And also this is the first album in nearly ten years, since 2014's Flora, to have Botanist return from the more band-oriented albums of the past years to being an Otrebor solo work, at least for this album. That might explain the return to the roman numeral naming convention, but not why the actual numbering doesn't seem to make much sense. Otrebor does a pretty good job of shaping the sound by himself, but there's some obstacles in the organic production, especially in the way it interacts with the weirdly layered clean choirs, that make it the kind of album that takes a bit of effort to really immerse oneself in it, but immersion is worth it nonetheless.

If flowers can bloom in moonlight, then maybe Botanist can bloom in even more airy territories. It might take a bit more time, but there's a pretty solid foundation already.

Written on 29.05.2023 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 84 users
30.05.2023 - 11:57
Rating: 8

Nice review. wasnt familiar with them before, but i like this one a lot, and i am surprised (again) at the low rating...

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