Root - The Book
I Hate Records
Epic Heavy Metal
15 songs (1:12:14)
Release year: 2008
Root, I Hate Records
Reviewed by Goat

Whoa. Wowee. Oh my god! You know those wonderful moments when, after having meant to try a band out for ages and ages, through constant cycles of forgetting and being reminded, the chance suddenly drops into your lap, you finally listen and it’s amazing? A complete and utter vindication of all you were hoping for, with the added twist that it’s completely different? This is what happened to me when, after having heard for a long, long time how amazing cult Czech band Root were, I suddenly got a promo copy of I Hate’s reissue of their acclaimed 1999 album The Book. Expecting some necrotic slice of raw Thrash a la Venom, I put it on, and was bowled over, completely and utterly.

Where the band’s peers like Bathory and Venom walked their own paths after helping to invent Black Metal (Bathory going Viking and Venom, well, utterly pissed their legacy away by proving to the world that they really didn’t know what they were doing after all) Root kept the Black spirit but took a more epic Heavy Metal style. On The Book the band sound like a cross between Iced Earth and Grand Magus, with plenty of experimentation and a singer that sounds like Roy Orbison.

Yes, Roy Orbison, indeed. Root vocalist Jirí ‘Big Boss’ Walter has a deep, impressive clean singing voice that almost exactly recalls the legend on the opening title track, easily as commanding and compelling. Other songs are just as good: The Mystical Words Of The Wise, an acoustic-backed hymn, is especially amazing, Big Boss’ voice impossible to resist as the mellow strumming backs something gently Proggy, that you might have expected to hear on the radio (bar the growled spoken verse, of course). Other songs take different routes, such as The Curse – Durron’s Doom riffing, and it’s from little moments like there, when the guitarists start to really play, that you can see the Black Metal still very present in the band’s sound (it’s obvious from the lyrics how much it is a part of the band’s ideology).

Most of the time, the band are restrained and practically laid-back, but when they let the reins slip a little you can hear the pent-up power straining at the bit, Big Boss’ vocals slipping into madness. In the meantime, the power and grandeur are constantly present, from the gang-shouts of Why? to the growls of The Birth, taking a more psychedelic route to the same destination, fitting in perfectly with the rest of the album and by no means something that will put fragile Heavy Metal types off.

Are there any faults? Well, yes. Songs often seem to end too abruptly, and whilst I fell in love instantly, I can see people becoming frustrated at The Book and taking a good few listens to ‘get’ it. And, fine, it may occasionally get a little cheesy, too. The intro to Corabeu – Part One is just a bit too ridiculous, but the rest of the track soon makes up for it with some gently swinging Pop as an influence, from back in the day when Pop was good. Few other bands could base a song on cello the way that Root do with Lykorian without making it seem out of synch with the rest of the album, but these guys make it seem easy.

Otherwise, Root practically transcended Black Metal here, and that this album is only partway through their eight-strong discography says much about what you can expect from later, even more experimental albums. For an introduction to the band, however, The Book is excellent, and highly recommended. This reissue comes with five bonus tracks, demo versions of album songs.

Killing Songs :
The Book, The Mystical Words Of The Wise, Why?, Corabeu – Parts One and Two, The Birth, Lykorian, The Message Of The Time
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Root that we have reviewed:
Root - Heritage Of Satan reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
Root - The Temple In The Underworld reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Root - Zjevení reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Root - Hell Symphony reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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