Botanist / Oskoreien | ‘Green Metal / Deterministic Chaos’
Delight in obscure finds, the micro musical treasures, strange and brilliant little curios: it’s half the joy of the metal underground.
Or in this case, shall we say the metal undergrowth.
Many will likely never heard of Botanist or Oskoreien, save perhaps for an interview Andy did with them way back in 2012. One of his many niche concerns, you might have thought. A man with a drumkit in the woods, hammered dulcimers and all.
There was a little nugget in his interview though that, listening to this fine split, is amazing to read now:
“A split seems like it would fit really well. Oskoreien guy Jay Valena and I have agreed that might happen in the years to come.”
Well. Imagine how fantastic to hear that in the dying days of 2016 it did happen, and that it’s here for us all to enjoy now in its glorious difference.
Let’s start with Botanist, where the meat of the release is. It’s not black metal as such, but draws from it.
The drums are the principal voice: expressive, natural, woody and shifty, deftly played and with a great range of expressions and dynamics. I’m reminded often of the early Negura Bunget material.
The nasal, sparse guitar isn’t too heavily distorted, but the riffs weep with sparkle and pathos. Just check the superb ‘Clarthus Columnaus’ with its Benighted Leams-esque descent, or the starry ‘Varkoor’ which inhabits the same between elated and melancholy as Alcest.
I love it especially when th drums go for a break almost all on their own in the middle of the song. It comes back to what I was saying about the drums being the main voice, even over and above the haunted vocals.
On to the other side of the split, which is harder and heavier by several magnitudes. Two huge maelstroms of tracks, brutal and pounding in their razor edged depressive doom.
‘Deterministic Chaos’ opens with a fuzzed grinding noise before diving headlong into a ploughing riff immediately reminiscent of Nadja or Bloody Panda.
Over that caustic, sawing morass of sound they use the most beautiful wailing leads that have the kind of synth tone you’d more quickly associate with Vangelis or an 80s computer game. It’s incredibly atmospheric.
It’s hard to pick a best of their brace of tracks, but the next one really is quite special.
Far away, demented screams and howls keen over a slow and tragic dirge, the snare slamming as if into the very ground with every note.
Then the surprise: ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, is, of course, a Placebo cover. Now, Placebo always did have a dark lean in their alt-indie, particularly on the first album. But you’ll never have heard it interpreted quite like this.
Not true enough? Genre misappropriation? Hipster? Just listen to it and savour it.
As a split it accomplishes exactly what splits should: giving a taster of both bands, voicing connected but different musics, letting both acts run wild with their more creative whims before the strcitures of an album get them down.
It should also inspire the listener to check out the back catalogues of both bands, which I’m certainly going to do following this.
As a record plain and simple it is an absolute joy. The contrast between the wistful playfulness of Botanist and the luckless despondemcy of Oskoreien is a great transition, and a powerful one too.
Crucial stuff. Wonderful.
4.7/5 – Earl Grey ::: 22/01/17