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Botanist Wears a “Red Crown”


A Botanist album is a contract. The listener agrees to leave our shared world behind and enter into the Verdant Realm, the lush sanctuary of The Botanist — an entity channeled by founding member Otrebor and who serves as the central character of the band’s mythos. From his sacred refuge, and at the behest of the mysterious being Azalea, The Botanist strives to bring about an apocalypse in which humanity is destroyed and the Verdant Realm reigns.

The Botanist dreams of a future where Earth has been reclaimed by intricate and flourishing natural ecosystems. One of these is the towering redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest, which Botanist explore on their upcoming release Ecosystem. Submerse yourself in the album’s closing track “Red Crown,” an exultant homage to the iconic Cascadian giants, with our exclusive premiere.

For most of its recorded existence, Botanist was a solo project — Otrebor only calling on an assortment of supporting musicians for live performances. Though self-described as a post-black metal (or “green metal”) band and largely adhering to the genre’s songwriting conventions, Botanist eschew traditional instrumentation in favor of a battery of hammered dulcimers, an approach steeped in Otrebor’s background as a percussionist.

In 2017, Otrebor diverged from his solitary approach with Collective: The Shape of He to Come, the first full-band release in the Botanist catalogue. Despite having discarded the “Collective” signifier, Ecosystem is Botanist’s second collaborative record and represents a shared songwriting and recording effort from the group’s current lineup.

Botanist herald the “Red Crown” of the sequoias with shimmering dulcimer flourishes over cascading toms, all of it quickly assembling into soaring rushes of jubilation. The droning vocal performances, monastic and hypnotic in their impassive gravitas, highlight the solemnity of the evoked scene and lend contrast to the irrepressible brightness of the dulcimer.

From the forest floor / Azalea gazes up and smiles / to the trees above / Up to the height of the canopy / And the glory of the red crown.

Bringing Ecosystem to a fulfilling close, “Red Crown” is Azalea’s celebration of this stately and thriving community liberated from human interference: “Flora and fauna / High in the air,” sculpted, housed, and protected by the cresting and resplendent treetops.

Ecosystem showcases Botanist’s most well-rounded sound to date. Even in the album’s frenzied pitches, the dulcimer breathes and glows, the bass gives warm and grounding affirmation, the drums are crisp yet unobtrusive, and the vocals, both clean and otherwise, meet the instruments on a level plane. The thick haze of distortion which previously cloaked the dulcimers now recedes to the barest wisp. Ecosystem allows each element of this truly unique band to shine, echoing the record’s collaborative origins.

Botanist will release Ecosystem via Aural Music on October 25th; pre-order the record on vinyl or CD.

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