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Raventale - Morphine Dead Gardens Award winner

Morphine Dead Gardens
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 30 September 2019, 7:24 AM

RAVENTALE is a one-man band that combines Doom, Atmospheric, Black, and Death Metal into one, huge sound.  Despite the fact that “Morphine Dead Gardens,” is RAVENTALE’s tenth full length, this is my first time hearing their music….and I have definitely been missing out on something special.

ASTAROTH MERC, hailing from the Ukraine, has crafted an impressive album that kept me interested for the one hour time length that it takes to play the five tracks presented.   The production is raw, but not overly and captures the harrowing nature of Black Metal and the desolate feel so often associated with Atmospheric Metal.  Tempo and riff wise, the music lays upon a more Doom oriented back drop but has the suffocating atmosphere of the darkest Doom/Death bands, especially those who are of a more Funeral Doom sub-genre origin.

The vocals are blackened shrieks and deep, deep Death growls both of which fit the mood and music perfectly.  For this type of sound, would any other vocal style be needed?  Of course not.  Often times, the vocals are layered and it just makes the album all the more suffocating.  Much like the instruments, the vocals blend in well to the overall sound.  In essence, no individual element stands out more than the others—every sound presented is a piece of the overall puzzle.

The first track, “As An Empty Shell,” crawls out of its damp grave with an immediate and frightening growl.  These archaic and devastating vocal attacks lead the attack with an army of thick riffs and electric dissonance, all caught up in a slow dirge.  About five minutes in, the music so subtlety branches off into a more melodic passage but it doesn’t overtake the gloom.   The halfway point of the song grows heavier with the drums highlighting a crushing passage before the gloom returns with a fervor. The last five minutes of the track let the music speak for itself, an instrumental of melancholy and rain.  Light keyboard patterns sprinkle over the lead guitar and riffs, ending the song with a touch of old fashioned Gothic despair.

The second track, “Lorn and Deserted,” doesn’t open with any growls but it isn’t any less grueling.  The first couple minutes are just slow, crushing…and impending doom from which you can’t escape.  Despite such a nature, a keyboard laden passage opens up the song to other desolate fields.  As the song goes on, I did get the feeling of someone being betrayed, perhaps by a loved one.  This person wants to move on but can only feel himself shrinking in the distance as the other watches from safer shelters.

The third track is “This Forsaken Place,” and I don’t know if there has been a more apt title to a song this year.  The overall mood of this track is an all-encompassing feeling of being in a place that has long sense lost any meaning or, perhaps, a place which one feels trapped within.  Psychological implications aside, I found this track to be the most isolating.  Listening to this with headphones is definitely an experience that any Atmospheric or Doom fan should try at least once.  The track’s drums really standout, their performance gives the otherwise slumbering track an energetic piece to it that serves the song well.

In The Bitter Pain,” is the shortest track on the album but it still runs almost ten minutes in length.  It also happens to be the most melodic; there are several moments of blissful ambiance intertwined with the Metal aspects—definitely a great idea that was executed well.  The song’s ending growls are pure torture, so much painful emotion that swells within the track.

The final track is “Morphine Gardens,” and with a length of over 14 minutes, it is the longest on the album.  It actually begins with clean notes and tones that build up upon each other for several minutes before the electric power of the riff comes thru.  This opening passage was highlighted by some rather emotional lead work.  As this track is instrumental, the instruments get more room and focus this time, resulting in some of the album’s best moments especially with the guitar.  The bass drops like a goddamn hammer around the ten-minute to eleven-minute mark, showcasing how useful and important bass is to a band like this.

Astaroth and his RAVENTALE project have made a dark journey down to a deep, deep well into audio form.  As far as this type of Metal goes, this is a journey that you need to be on—an experience in the abyss that we often found ourselves trapped in, even if it is from our own doing.

Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. As An Empty Shell
2. Lorn and Deserted
3. This Forsaken Place
4. In The Bitter Pain
5. Morphine Gardens
Astaroth Merc – All Vocals, All Instruments
Record Label: Ashen Dominion


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Edited 04 February 2023

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