Botanist—'Collective: The Shape of He to Come' Album Review
Is this metal or something more?
Botanist is a five piece post-black metal band from San Francisco, California. They have been a band since 2009 and have released five albums and three EP’s before this album was crafted. One of the things that makes this band stand out from the rest is the fact they do not use guitars as the lead instrument. Instead, they use a hammered dulcimer which gives it a very melodic, if not slightly hypnotic, approach to this interesting take on metal. A word to the reader, I must say that there are a few tracks that I would not say transcends metal, but you could not even call metal. Now onward to the oddly unique album!
I was definitely not expecting something like this to be found in the metal section of the good old band camp, as I am admittedly a bit new to the idea of post-black metal. I had to walk into this with a pretty open mind. Throughout the album, you can definitely hear the black metal influence and why they would call it post-black metal. This album has loads of melody and clean/vibrant tones to it, mixed with a variety of choir vocals, blast beats, and ambient textures throughout! Had I not read that this was post-black metal, I would have called it some form of (slightly) blackened Hippy/Stoner metal album with all of its upbeat textures and overall blend. Some of the songs on this are very long, from the 8:36 - 10+ minute range. Unfortunately for some of them, you can feel the song length start to bear down on you. Some of these songs are very good in parts, but I would like to have seen some of these transitions made into songs of their own, as they seemed to have two different ideas for two different songs. They kind of meet in the middle, if only for a section, like two ships passing in the night, only to never see each other again, nor experience the love child that those passing parts created.
Favorite Track: The Shape of He to Come.
As per a lot of bands who tend to name the album after the strongest track on the album, this is no exception! This song blends everything this album does right in its almost nine minutes of music, one of the best things I can say about this long track is easily it does not feel like nine minutes or anywhere close to that. It is very easy to get lost in it and it seems to pass by it what seems like it could have been a mystical second or lost in a moment for weeks. There are several songs on the album longer, but this one just feels like a mystic ride in which you can get lost without noticing how long it is, as the longer ones can tend to drag a bit on one's attention if they are still not in the sweeping mindset of The Shape of Heto Come leaves the mind in.
Overall this was a decent album. It was a very enjoyable listen for the most part, save for a few points where all trace of metal is gone, which is okay, as it added to the atmosphere. Very good recording quality and production lead to an interesting overall album. However, no one song walked out and grabbed me and hooked me in for future listens. I give it a solid C+. It is a very decent album, I just wish there was something a bit more I could sink my teeth into!
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