On the eighth solo album by the project, and the first since "VI: Flora" (2014), mastermind Otrebor again sends sprigs into new sonic directions. Although the band's roots in black metal still shimmer through the dense foliage, this sprawling, straggling, blooming creation is an exuberantly growing, varied musical meditation.
"The title "VIII: Selenotrope" refers to plants that flower in moonlight. BOTANIST's characteristic sound of the hammered dulcimer combines perfectly with now predominantly clean vocals that are often arranged into multi-layered choirs, resulting in an entangling, highly dynamic album that comes together in a singular piece of music seemingly taking influence from all avant-garde, progressive, experimental, post-metal, and other possible descriptions - the validity of which very much depends on each individual listener. "VIII: Selenotrope" is not made to fit into just one drawer."
When composer, lyricist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Otrebor created the San Francisco based BOTANIST in 2009, he already had a specific lyrical concept in mind that has persisted to permeate all his releases until and including today.
All songs of this project are told from the perspective of a protagonist called "The Botanist". He is characterised as a crazed man of science that lives in self-imposed exile, as far away from Humanity and its crimes against Nature as possible. In his sanctuary of fantasy and wonder, which he calls "The Verdant Realm", "The Botanist" surrounds himself with plants and flowers to find solace in the company of the natural world, while he envisions the destruction of mankind. Seated upon his throne of Veltheimia, "The Botanist" awaits the time of humanity's self-eradication, which will allow plants to cover planet Earth in green once again. BOTANIST's lyrics are equally informed by scientific nomenclature as they are inspired by Romantic-era poetry, art, and philosophy.
In a striking departure from traditional metal instrumentation, Otrebor uses distorted hammered dulcimers instead of guitars. This also marks BOTANIST as the first band to adapt magnetic pickups to hammered dulcimer, and perform on stage. Stylistically, the Americans earlier paid tribute to the mentality of some of the pioneering Scandinavian black metal bands' connection to nature, before spinning the dark yarn into new sonic and emotional fabrics. To BOTANIST, the black metal trope about misanthropy and of being alone in the forest is in fact about the woods and its floral inhabitants themselves. Each named plant becomes its own character in the ever growing pantheon of the project's "green metal" discography.
BOTANIST sprouted from the seed of their debut double-album "I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose from the Dead" (2011) into a tripartite sapling with the addition of ""III: Doom in Bloom"" (2012). From this early growth, their sprawling discography developed into several directions with two further solo-albums forming the stems: "IV: Mandragora" (2013) and "VI: Flora" (2014).
All BOTANIST albums bearing Roman numbers are solo-recording by Otrebor., which includes "VIII: Selenotrope". The same applies to the EPs with an Arabic number, i.e. "EP1: The Hanging Gardens of Hell / Ode to Joy" (Split, 2013), "EP2: Hammer of Botany" (2015), and "EP3: Green Metal / Deterministic Chaos" (Split, 2016).
When the mastermind started to work with a constantly mutating line-up in studio and on stage, he adopted the marker "Collective", which appears on the following albums, "Collective: The Shape of He to Come" (2017) and "Collective: Setlist 2017" (2017), with the later consisting out of solo material that was re-recorded with the line-up that toured Europe in 2017.
Feeling that this system led to 'clunky' titles, the "collective" version of BOTANIST released the next full-length albums under simple titles without a prefix: "Ecosystem" (2019), "Ecosystem Version B" (2020), and "Photosynthesis" (2020). "Ecosystem Version B" (2020) is an alternative version of "Ecosystem", but with different drums, bass, mix, lyrics, titles, and with the European Tour 2017 singer on vocals.
After successfully working with Swedish mixing and mastering specialist Dan Swanö for "Photosynthesis", Otrebor decided to continue the collaboration for "VIII: Selenotrope". The result is a stunningly beautiful new branch in the BOTANIST evolution. Yet in an unexpected twist, "VIII: Selenotrope" blooms not only at night, but also shines as a radiant musical flower in broad daylight.
Release date: May 19, 2023
Style: Avant-garde metal
1. Against the Selenic Light
2. Risen from the Rain
3. Epidendrum Nocturnum
5. Angel's Trumpet
7. Sword of the Night
8. The Flowering Dragon