By Justin C.. Botanist's third full length, Doom in Bloom<, included a second disc called Allies, featuring collaborations with other musicians. Those songs stood in stark contrast with Otrebor's usual one-man, blackened hammered-dulcimer show. One of those songs, Nymphaea Caerulea, was with an immensely talented woman going by the name BezaelithBy Justin C.
Botanist's third full length, Doom in Bloom, included a second disc called Allies, featuring collaborations with other musicians. Those songs stood in stark contrast with Otrebor's usual one-man, blackened hammered-dulcimer show. One of those songs, "Nymphaea Caerulea", was with an immensely talented woman going by the name Bezaelith, who also was a touring bassist with Botanist for a time. The duo went by the name Lotus Thief, and they're now back with a luscious full-length, Rervm.
Instrumentally, Otrebor provides his usual high-caliber percussion here, and Bezaelith handles everything else. The lyrical content of Rervm is based on the epic poem "De Rerum Natura", written by Roman poet Titus Lucretius Carus over 2000 years ago. The poem was meant to elucidate the ideas of Epicurean philosophy and science, which contains some surprisingly modern ideas, given its age. Lotus Thief cleverly labels their genre as "text metal," and as you might guess, the lyrics are pretty fascinating to read.
To be honest, though, I connected with this album on a more emotional level. I got my hands on the promo a day before going in for surgery, so I was in a bit of a distracted state before and after. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, Bezaelith's vocals on this album were a major comfort to me in the hours immediately before and after the actual operation. They're cleanly sung, and she often harmonizes with a veritable chorus of other Bezaeliths. If you can listen to the opening vocal lines of "Aeternvm" without your heart melting at least a little, I don't know what to do with you. It's made all the more satisfying when the subtle underlying percussion suddenly bursts into furious Otreborian blasting immediately after.
Musically speaking, this isn't the heaviest thing you'll hear all year. The riffing actually reminds me a bit of bands like A Perfect Circle at times--heavy, but with a heavy focus on melodicism. But regardless of the level of heavy, it's brilliant. The electronic touches Bezaelith adds to her guitar and bass are on point, and Otrebor supports it all with a deft touch on the drums. The album subtly ramps up in complexity and aggression as the six tracks progress. For example, "Discordia," appropriate to its name, is a darker and more aggressive song than "Aeternvm," so if things seem a bit too sweet at the outset, that's not all Lotus Thief has to offer you. I know that some reviewers have found the ambient interludes off-putting; each song ends with one, and they vary in length, but I find letting them wash over me to be a perfectly pleasant experience. I haven't subjected them to much intellectual scrutiny, but I don't find myself getting impatient with them like I do with some long intros and outros. The album breathes with them in place.
There's a lot to delve into with this album, and other reviewers have done much more thorough discussions of the text and lyrical content than I have, but as multi-layered as the album is, it's also immediately accessible. I can't recommend it enough.