Review Summary: A hypnotic nature infused recording binding together elements of funeral doom and black metal with flute driven folk, shoegaze, and ambient drone. For Fans of: the bong, hippie gatherings, and the unfiltered hate for the modern machine.
Are you a darkened heathen longing for the old days where one could live in peace and harmony through the ancient, mystical properties of the forest? Are you so sick of what the modern machine has brought to us (McDonalds, Taxes, Paris Hilton, Soulja Boy, Cell Phones, Melodic Death Metal) that you would literally snap at the drop of a hat and forcefully attempt to bring back mankind back to the purity of slaughtering animals, building huts with tree branches and mud, and winning your mate’s companionship by a savage fight to the death with your competitor? Then you’re like me and I have a perfect solution for you. Blood Of The Black Owl, one of the growing entities in the modern American metal scene that is rapidly growing in quality thanks to the likes of Agalloch, Fauna, Weakling, and Wolves In The Throne Room. Led by multi instrumentalist Chet Scott notable for his work in the ambient/ neo-folk fields, Blood Of The Black expands on those decidedly non metal elements and incorporates them into a whole new beast.
Extreme metal at heart, BOTBO’s latest release “A Feral Spirit” fuses together the harshness of black metal and funeral doom with the melancholic and nature themed atmospherics of neo-folk, ritualistic ambient, shoegaze and drone. The combination of these elements are successfully handled and proceed to deliver one of the most interesting records I’ve heard all year. You wouldn’t know it by listening to the first track Spell Of The Elk. “Spell Of The Elk” doesn’t exactly thrill the listener as the nine minute duration predominantly serves as an overlong introduction featuring nothing but irritating gravelly spoken word sections and flute driven ambience. I will say though the flutes are quite enchanting in a way. In the sense of a serene walk through the woods as wolves howl and birds chirp harmoniously. Throughout the album the flutes are remarkably used and bear a Native American essence just adding to the spirituality and harmony. A Feral Spirit isn’t just some kind of hippie relaxation contraption though. The album is littered throughout with dissonance and aggression as guttural growls and lumbering power chord progressions laced in distortion rip through the atmosphere like the white devil forcibly taking land that doesn’t belong to him. Dynamics are key to this record and Chett Scott and company utilize them to the fullest extent.
Instrumentally this album is sound. The guitars frolic mightily through trancelike melodies and lo fi riffing which perfectly accentuate with the several well placed clean melodic passages and dissonant barrages. The bass tone is sufficient in providing an earthy buzz like protrusion often heard reverberating in the background. Drumming is precise and tribal like, crashing down like a giant vat of molasses. Syrupy thick and just as mobile as the famed pancake condiment, the drums and bass perfectly sync up to the slow paced rhythmic shifts. Vocals on the other hand fail to impress me as much as the tranquility to suddenly aggressive dynamics. But this is mainly just directed towards the gravel like bellowing mostly heard in the opening track. The growls on the other hand are perfectly sound in capturing the emotional mindset of a tortured man or even the fabled man/bear/pig perhaps. In general though the vocals come off to me as nothing more than a flourish to the atmosphere. The unintelligible screaming in the words of the Kirk Lazarus are used as mechanisms to trigger human emotion and they succeed, with my mindset anyways.
A feral Spirit is not an accessible listen by any means. You most certainly cannot not listen to just one track at a time and decide whether or not you like it. You must listen to the album as a whole preferably in a dark isolates place where you can pick up all the anguish and reverb pouring through the headphone speakers. Comfortably situated between the uncomfortable genre binding of the above mentioned stylistic formats finds Blood Of The Black Owl in particularly precarious situation. Not as easy on the ears as Wolves In The Throne Room, not as captivating as Agalloch although quite expansive, and nowhere as gay as Xasthur, Blood Of The Black Owls are looking to capture new listeners with their unique brand of music. I for one was sold upon impact and immediately relinquished whatever ties I currently hold to the present and burned most of them for the shadows to dissect and consume.. I am man…….
Thanks. Not really black metal tbh. It's mostly instrumetal, and instrumetal. The last track is perfect, capturing all the doom metal fury with Native American flute and lo-fi posturing. Truly epic record.
Ha ha, I like their chocolate shakes and cookies and fish sandwiches. That's a damn good meal right there. I'm not a fast food junkie, you know what they say "everything in moderation except moderation". I am a gym junkie though, yeah.
I'm sure I'll still listen to this because I tend to check out everything you review even if it's just to come back here and say I don't like it ;)
nice review, but I demand you replace melodeath with something like deathcore or metalcore or screamo or something that really blows, since melodeath is fucking cool man. Probably won't check this out though, doesn't seem like something I would like