Botanist assemble full force as planet’s still harrowing future comes into focus on ‘Ecosystem’

Photo by Siren Sea Media

The earth is slowly suffocating, and we humans have a pretty large hand in making that happen. In many ways, we’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to this planet, despite all the technological advances we have made to push humankind. We have been the ones choking out its heart, and if scientists are right (and they probably are), we could be very close to annihilating this place.

Avant-garde green metal spirit Botanist has been telling us this for years now over a series of full-lengths, smaller releases, and splits, and the message hasn’t really changed: Plant life one day will rise up and claim us all after we’ve done our damage. Only problem is, we’re now in danger of killing our real-life Verdant Realm that we might not live to see this play out. Nonetheless, Botanist is not to be deterred, and the project is back with “Ecosystem,” a release that features the entire fleshed-out lineup—Otrebor on dulcimers, harmonium, vocals; Davide Tiso on bass; Daturus on drums; and Cynoxylon on additional vocals—so it’s not just a dulcimer-and-drums effort. That gives these songs even more body and texture, not to mention vocally the music pushes past shrieks and whispers to embrace cleaner singing that also adds a pretty cool texture to the songs.

“Biomass” begins the record with the dulcimer hammered and all of the forces rising, as wild cries jab into the ribs. The chorus backs up and swells while gruffer vocals push in before calm emerges. Singing and shrieks mix while a panicked tempo jars and moody chorals take us out. “Alluvial” has light strumming before things comes to life with clean singing and a breezy atmosphere before things darken. Vicious howls blister, whipping up crazed winds before things disappear into the background. “Harvestman” has dour melodies darkening the ground before the track rips things apart as shrieks make dents in the assault. Guttural growls give the track more of a death metal essence while the dulcimer goes off, and there’s a furious rush to the finish. “Sphagnum” is slowly picked as singing floats overhead, and the atmospheric pressure gives a Pink Floyd feel. The growls return as the music spirals, and then the guts are churned. Choral sections add some beauty to hell, as everything bleeds out.

“Disturbance” has noises rising, the dulcimer shaking, and heavy shrieks raining down blood. The track has a dramatic tone as insanity ensues and spreads, while a crazed fury digs in its claws. “Acclimation” is calm as it starts, softly pushing the pace, as choral parts mix with grisly growls. Cymbals crash while a clinical-style melody reaches its roots, vicious shrieks scrape, the music crescendos, and the final sounds are delicately played strums. “Abiotic” begins slowly as the drums and bass pick up, and solemn singing from Cynoxylon and vocal harmonizing give lushness to this folk-flavored cut. The singing continues to push the plot, observing that “a path of doom is laid” before the song slowly fades. “Red Crown” closes the album with a huge, joyous feel as the drums rumble, and the singing swells with, “Sunlight rains down through the branches and reaches the ground.” As the track goes on, the music continues to add muscle, the singing floods the senses, and the track subsides with the call of “with balance ruling, red crown, ecosystem” as the grip is gently loosened.

Our fate is nearly sealed, and the people who make the actual decisions in this world have turned blind eyes to the problem vexing the earth. So, it may be time for the Verdant Realm to rise up and slaughter us all for the good of this place. “Ecosystem” is another warning, an additional plea for us to wake up and start caring for our surroundings before it comes for us and removes our stain from the planet. It might sound grim, but it’s the fate we currently deserve.

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