EP Review: BOTANIST / OSKOREIEN EP3: Green Metal / Deterministic Chaos
Black Metal gets twisted and bent in many ways. Across the globe and the genre's spectrum the icy, raw norms that were birthed in the 80's and 90's have become lush, experimental, and atmospheric. Two recent explorations into the unusual come from San Francisco's Botanist and Los Angeles's Oskoreien. Two one-man black metal projects that thrive on imaginative and inherently unique formulas. Botanist has spent years constructing a vivid universe that his music exists in, complete with its own lexicon. Oskoreien's roots were set in viking metal before shifting to his brand of black metal in recent years. Together, the two have orchestrated one of the year's most interesting splits, called EP3: Green Metal / Deterministic Chaos.
Botanist contributes five new tracks to this intriguing split. Continuing his explorations through his Verdant Realm, Otrebor's vivid "Green Metal" makes a triumphant return following 2014's VI: Flora and 2015's EP, EP2: Hammer of Botany. Admittedly, I have been a sucker for Botanist's music for years. Every release is wildly captivating and these split contributions are no different. Highlights like "Amorphophallus Titanum", "Varkoor", and "Dracula Vampira" showcase the diverse instrumentation incorporated into Botanist's compositions. A 12-string bass, drums, vocals embedded within the music's flora, and most notably, hammered dulcimer. These are tools of immersion. Ways for the listener to become lost amongst the branches and blooms that grow from Botanist's vivid music.
On the (literal) other side, Oskoreien's half of the split presents a 13 minute title track and a wildly unique cover of Placebo's "Without You, I'm Nothing". Jay Valena creates black metal that is equal parts brash, gritty and haunting. Amongst the passing seconds and minutes of "Deterministic Chaos" is a consistent wall of dissonant fuzz. Valena's harrowing shriek emerges, shifting his music to near-DSBM tones. This haunting aura carries into the the Placebo cover, highlighted by eerie synths and Jay's vocal rendition of the English alt-rock band's 1998 song. Being relatively new to Oskoreien's music, it was a pleasant surprise to discover the harsh sonic structures that comprised this portion of the split.
Ep3: Green Metal / Deterministic Chaos is, in a word, compelling. Otrebor and Valena take very different approaches to the construct of black metal, yet they both yield striking results. Anytime music is resented that challenges the notions of what is considered commonplace, it makes for an intriguing experience and these two musicians certainly live up to the challenge.