I was a proponent of Californian experimental black metal project Botanist, when their debut double album, I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose from the Dead was released, back in 2011. At the time, it was new and pretty much unheard of, at least not widely so. The following albums, however, felt like mere reiterations on the same themes and a simple reorganization of the same core sounds and ideas; no matter how long you shuffle your salad, it’s still going to be the same salad. That’s why I was [cautiously] optimistic for Botanist’s new project: there was no roman numeral in front of the title. No VII: The Bryophytes of Belial in sight, this hinted to – I hoped – a change of direction for the project. With Collective: The Shape of He to Come, my hopes are fulfilled, my wish granted: Botanist sounds new and interesting again! As we can read from the bandcamp description of the album, the project moves from a one-man band in studio to a more complete, collective work – hence the name –, taking all the members of the live band to the composition and recording processes. This resulted in beautiful and mesmerizing tracks, like the opener “Praise Azalea, the Adversary”, as well as new and fresh black metal compositions. The album uses much more atmospheric passages and clean vocals, both of which are very welcome to the Botanist salad. Collective: The Shape of He to Come is an outstanding album, and an interesting new direction for Botanist to take. Hopefully, we hear more from the Collective series in the future!