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One-Man Experimental Black Metal Project Botanist Branches Out

Stream the hammered dulcimer-led entity's new album, 'Collective: The Shape of He to Come'—its first recording as a full band.
Foto cortesía de Otrebor

Since releasing I: The Suicide Tree in 2011, San Francisco-based experimental black metal act Botanist has maintained a prolific reputation in the underground by releasing five LPs in as many years. That this frequency of releases has been maintained by just one man, the mysterious Otrebor, only adds to the appeal of this already unconventional art, created with drums and hammered dulcimer instead of the electric guitars common for the genre. However, with the new Botanist album, Collective: The Shape of He to Come, Otrebor has deviated from his singular process and opened up the creative realm to members of his live band. It's a tactic that could've turned out any number of ways, yet the end result is something clearly culled from the same place and fits smoothly into the pantheon of Botanist albums.


Previously recorded drum tracks presented by Otrebor to his live bandmates slowly turned into songs over the course of a three year period. While the songs clearly carry the trademark sounds fans of Botanist know to expect, in places there's a sparseness in moments that betrays some of the lusher sounds found elsewhere in Botanist's discography. Opener "Praise Azalea the Adversary" takes nearly two minutes to build to a howling declaration that exits in less time than it arrived and "And the World Throws Off Its Oppressors" feels like a mandatory reprieve from the longer, more chaotic songs that surround it. Still, the title track's droning resonance and chanted vocals would fit right at home beside any of Otrebor's own compositions elsewhere in the Botanist catalogue and "Upon Veltheim's Throne Shall I Wait" is one of the best things the group has offered at any point.

"The Shape of He to Come is the first of the "Collective" series, which means that it diverges from the model of Botanist studio albums as the result of me, Otrebor, doing everything, and instead recording more like a full band with distributed responsibilities," the band's founder told Noisey. "The album] stands as a testimonial to the work, time, and effort that six of us put into rehearsing, touring, and composing from the years 2013-2016."

While Collective: The Shape of He to Come follows parallel yet inherently divergent path from Botanist's typical trajectory, it still serves as a welcome follow-up to the Green Metal material presented on last year's split with Oskoreien. If this really is a separate piece of the Botanist lineage, it's a tribute to the communication amongst the members of the band and their understanding of a shared vision. Collective: The Shape of He to Come is out today, courtesy ofAvantgarde Music. Stream the whole thing below and read on for album release show information and a list of European tour dates coming later this month.

Botanist on tour:

5 September: Album release party in Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull w/ Palace of Worms & Leadeater
21 September: Frankfurt, DE @ Klapperfeld
22 September: Gent, BE @ Asgaard w/Perennial Isolation, A Thousand Sufferings, Angakok
23 September: Goes, NL @ Beest w/Black Anvil
24 September: Nottingham, UK @ Angel Microbrewery w/Khost, Hexagon Trail, Shrykull, Abduction, Colossloth
25 September: Sheffield, UK @ The Mulberry
26 September: Plymouth, UK @ The Junction
27 September: London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
28 September: Eindhoven, NL @ Dynamo w/Hemelbestormer, Gnaw Their Tongues
29 September: Arnhem, NL @ Willemeen w/Vanhelga, Kahld, Waldschrat
30 September: Paris, FR @ Les Mains d'Oeuvres w/Thharm, Rance
2 October: Toulous, FR @ La Cave a Rock
4 October: Geneva, CH @ La Reliure
5 October: Neuchatel, CH @ Queen Kong Club w/Carne, Dali Psyko Circus – Les lives de Belial
6 October: Graz, AT @ Explosiv w/Ellende, Waldschrat, Synkende
7 October: Ljubljana, SL @ tba
8 October: Zagreb, HR @ tba
9 October: Vienna, AT @ das Bach
10 October: Pilsen, CZ @ Divaldo Pod Iampou
11 October: Prague, CZ @ Eternia w/Tengri
12 October: Leipzig, DE @ Moertelwerk
13 October: Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
14 October: Kiel, DE @ Alte Meierei w/Skardus
15 October: Copenhagen, DK @ Underwerket

Ben Handelman is keeping it weird on Twitter.