ReviewCan music be black metal without actually being metal? That's one question posed by I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead, the debut album of Botanist. Otrebor, the band's only member, contacted me with a review copy of the album. He handles drums, vocals, and hammered dulcimer.
The hammered dulcimer is an ancient stringed instrument played with mallets. Your only point of reference may be a xylophone, thanks to its popularity in children's alphabet books. Dulcimer completely takes the place of guitar and bass in this record, so it sounds entirely like no other band out there.
It was intended as two separate albums, but weirdo-friendly label Tumult decided to release it as a double album. When I first put on I: The Suicide Tree, I expected this to be gimmicky. But I was immediately drawn in. High-pitched melodies, dissonance, and rasped vocals, accompanied by weird, halting drum rhythms. It's hard to know what to make of it at first. Sure, it could be dismissed as merely an interesting experiment, but it's mesmerizing.