The Book

Root - The Book ©1999 Redblack/M.A.B. Records
1. The Book
2. The Mystical Words Of The Wise
3. The Curse - Durron
4. Why?
5. Corabeu - Part One
6. Corabeu - Part Two
7. The Birth
8. Lykorian
9. The Message Of Time
10. Remember Me!
11. Darkoutro - ...Tocatta - Prestissimo Molto

Being that Root hails from the Czech Republic (a country that serves as a bastion for bizarre and obscure metal bands), it is of no surprise that their sound is indeed quite odd and will take many listens to truly grasp. Imagine, if you will, a strange hybrid of metal, atmospheric rock, and pastoral, folk elements in correllation with the fact that the Czech Republic consumes more alcohol per capita than any other country on this Earth (yes, even more so than Russa), and you have a very vague description of what Root is trying to accomplish.

Upon initial listen, The Book will be dismissed as nothing more than a difficult, inconsistent, impassable musical oddity with a few idiosyncracies jumping out on occasion to snag you in. However, it is of the utmost importance to mention that subsequent listens become more and more endearing until you eventually have a stunning album on your hands. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Root is the fact the members are able to construct melodies and songs that are very unique and inventive while at the same time being entirely memorable, as evident on the aptly titled, catchy "Remember Me!" and the opening title track. The atmospheric folk rock is at its best on songs such as the pastoral "The Mystical Words of the Wise" and the two-part "Corabeu" saga. With a whole slew of instruments ranging from your usual guitars, bass, synth, voice, and drums, to slightly unexpected instruments such as the violoncello (the full name for "the Cello") and the ocarina, The Book is an entirely fulfilling and, most importantly, memorable release.

The most odd aspect of The Book is the unique voice and presence of Big Boss, the singer/visionary of Root. For the most part, Big Boss sings in a thundering, heroic, powerful, operatic baritone that is diversified into light crooning, spoken word that can be likened to the character of Stromboli from Pinochio, whispers, gruff melodic roaring a la Carl McCoy of Fields of the Nephilim, and sparse, truly painful-sounding rasps that is akin to the late Dead of Mayhem. I have read that Big Boss is now forty-eight years old. If this is the case, he sounds as if he has one hundred years of spunk left in him. It is indeed great to hear a performance so diverse and impassioned from a person of middle age (are you reading this, Ozzy Osbourne?).

In the long run, The Book is a very rewarding and fulfilling album that is well-worth the fifty-six minutes it takes of your scheduled existence. If bands like Love History, Silent Streams of Godless Elegy, or Master's Hammer are to your fancy, then add Root's The Book to your list.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 05/2001

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Black Seal

Root - Black Seal ©2001 Redblack
1. The Festival of Destruction
2. The Incantation of Thessalonian Women
3. Nativity
4. His Eyes Were Dark
5. Black Seal
6. The Faith
7. Salamandra
8. Necromancy
9. Theriak
10. The Mirror of Soul
11. Liber Prohibitus
12. …Before I Leave!

When it was first released, I recall being let down ever so slightly by Root's Black Seal, their follow-up to 1999's utterly bewildering and amazing The Book. The band's decision to take their music into a more straightforward dark metal direction ("straightforward", as we all know, is a relative term for these Czech oddballs) did not sit well with me, at first. Then, as with virtually any Root album, Black Seal's nuances slowly revealed themselves over time, and it wasn't until a couple years later that I finally "got it."

Root, always one of the more unique acts in metal, still retained their core sound: melodic, insidiously catchy riffs that combined both black and classic metal (occasionally veering into alt-rock), inventive, mostly mid-paced drumming, and, of course, Big Boss' bizarre pidgin-English sprechesang/crooning/rasping/Stromboli-and-Roy-Orbison-fronting-a-black-metal-band vocalizations. Opener "Festival of Destruction" sets the tone with its innate catchiness, and, courtesy of Big Boss, it has an overdubbed chorus that sounds as if all the Seven Dwarves are singing together while stacking boulders in Hell. "Liber Prohibitus" is probably the one track on the album that bares a striking similarity to some of the odder moments from The Book. In fact, it's a truly insane track where Big Boss gets to show off his startling assortment of voices and strange noise-making abilities. Yes, Moonspell's Fernando Ribeiro does make an appearance on "Salamandra", and I won't go so far as to praise his performance per se, but it definitely is not as bad of a contribution as it could have been (Moonspell does, in fact, equal Moonspell), and Big Boss more than balances things out with his own vocals. "His Eyes Were Dark" is another stand-out track. Throughout all the songs, the rest of the band steps things up admirably, with lead guitarist Ashok growing to near-Steve Vai heights with his dazzling fret-work (only without the wind-machine on at all times, presumably).

While I question the extraneous part tacked onto the end of "…Before I Leave!" (just the multi-layered a-capella chorus of the song extended for 15 minutes after it ends; otherwise it is a more than fitting closing song), the remaining hour of music is more than worth the time of any metal-head or fan of Root's previous albums.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 8/2008

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