Blood of the Black Owl - Self Titled
(Bindrune Recordings) Keith Boyd 02.28.07
As it turns out there is actually something new under the sun! This Pagan/Heathen Doom soaked Black Metal release is a wonderfully hybrid excursion into recombinant music forms that manages to sound threatening and welcoming at the same time.
BOTBO is apparently the nom-de-metal of one Chet W. Scott who hails from Seattle and who also happens to be the main man behind the blackened ambient group Ruhr Hunter. This one man project is a buzzing and warbling trip through a black and rainy forest at night. Although it has many well done signifiers of the "Sludge-Doom" genre (down tuned guitars, glacial tempos, reverb soaked vocals and murk) it manages to one up them with some nicely crafted thematic interludes and one song (Kills in Timber) featuring a pack of wolves on vocals! The power of this disc is in its committed and primal tone. It sounds like ritual music from some lost tribe of Heathen forest dwelling Orcs. There is the hazy scree of guitar buzz aplenty but the use of chants, gongs, organ washes and tubular bells raises this music above the mud like a bloody caveman fist against the Northern sky.
The packaging (once again done by Mr. Scott) is housed in the generic jewel case but the imagery is amazing. It encompasses Nordic runes and primal Northwest Indian totemic animals such as ravens into a very personal pictographic representation of the music and impulses behind it. The runes are once again a blend in that they include Thor's Hammer and a Thunderbird. Really it's just a beautifully done cover with powerful and mythological iconography that appeals to something deep within us.
The songs and interludes are all on the long side so be prepared to spend some time with this CD. It's not one that gives up its secrets easily. Given time the music will unfurl its black banner all around your senses and send your mind to ancient landscapes. This is a listening experience where you are allowed to suspend your disbelief for an hour or so. We're so pressed for time in this life. It's jump up in the morning and rush out to battle traffic and off to the job to work our asses off and rush to bolt down a meal and fight more traffic and rush to run errands and never, ever enough time. Check out Blood of the Black Owl for a break from all of that. I'm not saying its necessarily relaxing music. It's filled with its own tensions and black to grey color scheme. It does however slow you down a bit. It takes your mind on a trip. Never mind that the lyrics can't be heard or comprehended, never mind that it's hard to classify in a genre. Let a little uncertainty creep into your daily round and see if it doesn't bring relief or perhaps even a bit of inspiration.