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Root - "The Book (Re-Issue)" (CD)

Root - "The Book (Re-Issue)" CD cover image

"The Book (Re-Issue)" track listing:

1. The Book (5:52)
2. The Mystical Words of the Wise (6:07)
3. The Curse - Durron (6:22)
4. Why? (3:20)
5. Corabeu - Part One (4:07)
6. Corabeu - Part Two (5:04)
7. The Birth (4:38)
8. Lykorian (3:48)
9. The Message of the Time (7:46)
10. Remember Me! (3:41)
11. Darkoutro - ...Toccata - Prestissimo Molto (5:19)
12. The Curse - Durron (Pre-Production) (6:34)
13. Lykorian (Demo Version 1) (3:44)
14. Lykorian (Demo Version 2) (1:36)
15. Corabeu - Part One (Demo Version) (4:29)

Reviewed by on April 9, 2011

"Whether as a history lesson or a possible new favorite album, “The Book” should eventually hit any metal fan’s rotation."

Continuing to re-issue early work by the criminally unknown Czech Republic act Root, I Hate Records eventually reached one of the band’s most highly acclaimed efforts, “The Book.” Recognized as a milestone for Root, “The Book” has a significant leg up on the debut and much less polished “Zjeveni” (reviewed here) or even on the more experimental “The Temple in the Underworld” (reviewed here).

What these re-issues have shown is that Root really should have had a chance to get out into the wider metal world much sooner. If “The Book” had seen release outside Eastern Europe back in 1999, it’s almost a certainty that it would have had an impact on the changing musical landscape. As the explosion of sub-genres was happening and the lines between types of metal were being drawn, “The Book” would have been a breath of fresh air.

“The Book” seems more focused overall than “The Temple in the Underworld,” keeping up the unique style but not going nearly as eclectic. The sound is based in doom and a constant mid-tempo pace, and is overall a bit more mature and advanced than the earlier albums. Unlike with its predecessors, almost none of the album can even be remotely considered black metal anymore, as Root went a far different direction than the infamous second wave. Vocally, the disc usually sticks to a deep and clean baritone singing that can’t really be heard anywhere else.

What’s interesting about “The Book” is that it has more layers than it might first seem. The second listen through is a lot more enjoyable than the first, with the mood of the album becoming more clear. “The Book” isn’t an ambient release by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a certain chill quality that makes the music more enjoyable if it’s really being focused on instead of just heard in the background. Without resorting to ten minute long tracks that get lost in repetition or endless frozen black metal rasps, Root still manages to make an album all about atmosphere.

There are a couple of instances where Root goes out if its way to throw the audience for a loop, like on “Darkoutro.” It seems like most of the band’s albums have to have some kind of mindscrew track, and this one is it. Rather than going all psychotic like on “The Temple in the Underworld,” this particular song instead slams straight into disturbing and becomes downright scary.

Rounding out the re-issue version is pre-production and demo versions of four songs, which alternate between being either heavier or more experimental than the album tracks. Despite having noticeably lower sound quality, they are actually a lot more entertaining than the bonus tracks on the re-issue versions of the band’s other albums.

“The Book” shows what might have been if a different stylistic base had been used to influence later black and death metal albums. Whether as a history lesson or a possible new favorite album, “The Book” should eventually hit any metal fan’s rotation.

Highs: Heavy but still chill and the songs get better on each listen.

Lows: Vocal style takes a bit of getting used to, and in parts the album could use more technicality or heaviness.

Bottom line: A unique take on mid-paced and atmopsheric metal using vocal and musical styles that aren't usually heard anywhere else.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)