The Pitch: The first part of a new album series from San Francisco's guitarless, hammered dulcimer-focused black metal project, Botanist. "The origins of The Shape of He to Come came from my desire to give all the members of Botanist live the opportunity to contribute to a studio record; to give them a greater feeling of inclusion in Botanist -- and also to see what they were capable of and what my options would be for further inclusion in numbered Botanist albums." FFO: Dreadnought, Palace of Worms
What I Like: Haunting. That's the key word here. The obvious place to start is with the aforementioned hammered dulcimer. For those unfamiliar with Botanist, there are no guitars. Tremolos and power chords are all replaced with what is essentially a hybrid between a xylophone and harp. The sound of the instrument is difficult to describe; creating an effect of both strings and percussion that has a certain dreamlike quality. This ethereal aesthetic breaks from reality even further with wispy, clean vocals that rarely elevate beyond a droning hum. It's like black metal ASMR that occasionally spirals into waking nightmares (as with the end of "The Reconciliation of Nature and Man"). But don't expect to sleepwalk through this album either. There are plenty of blastbeats and pace changes to keep the energy high and the compositions varied.
Critiques: While the album is one of the most lush in atmosphere and unique melodies you're like to find this year; I don't find it to be one that is always engaging. Once was enough for my own personal experience, but I know plenty of other reviewers who could listen to this stuff all day long.
The Verdict: Maybe I'm just too much of a pleb to fully appreciate the genius of Botanist's music, but that doesn't mean I don't respect it. Collective: The Shape of He to Come, love it or not, is definitely one of the most unique albums of the year and one worth experiencing if even just one time. Get it tomorrow.
Flight's Fav's: The Shape of He to Come, The Reconciliation of Nature and Man, And the World Throws off Its Oppressors
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