We live in a fairly distracted society, where it’s tough for people to concentrate on one thing for too long before moving onto something else. But that’s what you get when people have devices to which they’re attached, so much so that walking out into traffic isn’t too uncommon. I think this is why the split release works so well for people.
That’s not to speak ill of the split. I love them. It’s a nice taste of two (or more) different things and doesn’t require quite the amount of dedication as a full album. Today we have two strong ones—the first a pairing of two remarkably interesting bands, the other a 7-inch release that hits hard and fast and also spotlights two groups that should be wrecking psyches well into the future.
There should be no second guessing how we feel about Botanist around here, the project of the shadowy Otrebor that’s drum-and-hammered-dulcimer-led fury that takes to task humankind’s disregard for our surrounding nature. On Botanist albums, the plants are goddamn doing something about this and are plotting their revenge deep within the Verdant Realm. No band sounds like Botanist, and no group should try. They’re back with “EP III: Green Metal,” their side of a split with Oskoreien, and it continues the campaign perfectly, expanding both the botanical universe as well as this project’s sound. On the other side, L.A.-based black metal project Oskoreien (led solely by multi-instrumentalist Jay Valena) smears their noise-infested, hauntingly spooky sound over two tracks, one a cover that you might not even recognize, it’s been so wonderfully disfigured. The other cool thing about this, other than the music being tremendous, is each band has their own special vinyl version, so you pick which sounds best to you.
On the Botanist side, we start with “Amorphophallus Titanum,” which stings with drum kicks and dulcimer strikes, as dark, tortured wails rip away at your skin. A cold sci-fi-esque melody rings out, as drums rumble and everything crumbles away. “Clathrus Columnatus” has keys pounding, the drums encircling its prey, and disorienting screams joining up with the hissed whispers (those being from Azalea, the vengeful force of nature who is whispering into the Botanist’s ear). The pace is kind of playful at times, whether that’s intentional or not, and later guttural screams spill in to do more damage. “Varkoor” has the dulcimer making zany melodies, like your viewpoint has been warped, and the playing is really strong. It’s easy to be infected by what’s going on here, as pained howls and more whispered instructions melt together, the melodies push like waves, as what seems like a near-joyous outburst is mangled by misery-inducing roars. “Saprophyte” has the dulcimers pushing aggressively while the whispers and growls combine to damn “the enemies of nature.” Every element melds nicely here, bursting with colors and bringing this really strong song to a finish. Weird closer “Dracula Vampira” plinks open, like bloodlets dripping down, while the song lurches and strikes. The Botanist and Azalea mash their messages together again, wailing the title over and over before the track comes to a smothering end. These are some of Botanist’s most realized songs yet, as this project continue to morph into something greater.
Where Botanist play with light and dark, Oskoreien mash together different shades of black. They open their portion, called “Deterministic Chaos,” with the title track, a 12:59 show of force that feels like an all-out machine assault. Static-laden beats stretch into doom, black metal, and noise, with synth stabbing behind for good measure. Guitar melodies stretch out over the haze, while unhinged shrieks plaster your insides and leave you feeling all liquidy. Later, mournful soloing burns its way through, leaving a painful pall. Synth arises again, leaving a creepy midnight 1985 essence that torments you. In fact, some of this reminds me of Pinkish Black at their psychologically ruptured best, as this track pours the thick fog and bleeds to its conclusion. Their half ends with “Without You, I’m Nothing,” one of the most unrecognizable Placebo covers you’re ever going to hear. Their approach to the track is to dress it in frightening shadows, thick helpings of darkwave, and the vocals delivered in blistering wails. In fact, when Valena cries, “Without you, I’m nothing,” over and over, he might be using someone else’s words, but he delivers them from the gaping pit in his own chest. The track sizzles out with cracking synth, leaving the same scar on his heart emblazoned on your own.
For more on Botanist, go here: http://www.botanist.nu/
For more on Oskoreien, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Oskoreienband/
To buy the album, go here: https://verdant-realm-botanist.bandcamp.com/album/botanist-oskoreien-ep3-green-metal-deterministic-chaos-botanist-version-saprophyte-yellow-gold-splatter-colored-vinyl-backpatch-pre-order-bonus
Or here: http://oskoreien.com/
While death metal is awfully saturated with a lot of bands doing to same thing over and over, there remains rich pools of filth in the underground keeping things guttural. Two of them are featured on a new 7” effort jointly released by Iron Bonehead and Dark Descent (themselves two of the most reliable labels in metal), that being Denver’s infernally brutal Spectral Voice and Denmark’s mangling Phrenelith. Spectral Voice featured three quarters of the much-vaunted Blood Incantation (who put out one of the year’s best death metal albums) and have released a slew of smaller releases and a couple splits. Their music is eerie and brutal, which generally leaves me a little lightheaded and disoriented. On the other side, Phrenelith sounds like a walking, breathing dinosaur monster ready to eat cities. This group also is pretty new to the world, combining members of bands such as Undergang, Alucarda, Eldjudnir, Wormridden, and plenty others. They, too, have yet to release a full-length effort, but seemingly it’s only a matter of time before they decimate us on an entire record.
Spectral Voice’s contribution “Peeled Veins” sounds painful simply from its title, and once you dig into the track, it just gets bloodier. A flurry of playing and deep growls erupt, taking things into the infernal chaos, and from there, slowly delivered misery bubbles to the surface. The pace lurches and bruises before things unexpectedly fade. But out of that pit comes a single bassline that brings the muscle, and then things reopen and maul shit. The growls are caked in soot, strange guitars stymie, and things come to a scary, brutal end. Phrenelith arrive with “Once Fertile Soil,” where the fire blisters from the start, and monstrous growls not of this Earth bring the misery. The drums are absolutely demolished, while the guitars go exploring the oddest stretches of outer space. Things then take a feral turn for the guttural, as vitriolic death smears all of your hopes, while the final moments ramp up and scorch every living creature in front out if out of existence.
For more on Spectral Voice, go here: http://www.necroticdoom.com/
For more on Phrenelith, go here: https://www.facebook.com/phrenelith
To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/
And here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/
The more I wrote about these two releases, the more fired up I got about them. All four of these bands deserve a place on any respectable listener’s record shelf, and they’re collectively making some of the most interesting music in all of metal. Whether you get one or both (get both), you’re going to be armed with sounds that will frighten the uninhibited and make you a scarier person to be around.