The Botanist would have a field day in my neighbourhood! Head tree hugger, Roberto “Otrebor” Martinelli has previously stated that when the time comes to expel melodic, avant-garde, post-black metal from his creative well, he “channels an entity within that’s been named ‘The Botanist,’ a character whose perspective dictates the content of the music and lyrics. The Botanist holds a romantic view in which plants reclaim the Earth after humanity has killed itself. He’s trying his damnedest to bring about the end of humanity because humanity is destroying the natural world.”
Were I to chaperone Martinelli around streets, boulevards, courts, and cul-de-sacs in proximity to the House That Metal Built And Pays For, it’s easy to picture the rapid emergence of a wide and sheepish “I told you so” grin on his mug. ‘Round these parts he would witness microcosmic evidence of Earth’s reclamation process in action as local coronavirus restrictions have presumably stemmed the ability of many of my neighbours to access paving companies with any promptness. That, and/or a blip in the driveway sealant manufacturing/supply chain, has transformed many of their ridiculously elaborate driveways into miniature jungles as weeds, grass, and other foliage have broken through cracks in the concrete, extending beyond the surface and stretching out towards life-giving sunshine. 'Take that, humanity,' laughs Mother Nature, with Otrebor at her side. Anyone else have “Ruined Suburban Driveways” on their 2020 Apocalypse Bingo cards?
What’s most striking about this latest album is its full and fleshed out overall sound. In large part, this is the result of Thomas’ low-end embrace and the sharp, yet elastic, drum sound Daturus is afforded. The rhythm section works in seamless accord with the dulcimer’s baroque plinking, itself projecting with powerful sustain as it cranks out riffs, melodies and peals of dissonance underscored by keyboards and layers of vocal tracks. Not the least, credit should be given to Dan Swanö who, from the producer’s chair, managed healthy doses of instrumental separation and clarity and weaved it together with punchy tones and a cinematic air that results in something undeniably massive. Sure, the whole concept and execution is still something seemingly designed to flip orthodoxy on to its noggin’. Indeed there are brief moments in which instrumental limitations are glaring and impact songwriting decisions, like in “Dehydration” where parts appear to empty out and seem lost. Still, not only is it good to see Botanist upending extreme music norms, but continuing to move forward despite their own self-imposed, if not isolating, head start.