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Raventale - Planetarium II Award winner

Planetarium II
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 September 2020, 7:50 AM

RAVENTALE is a one man extreme metal band from the Ukraine, who plays mostly atmospheric black metal.  Last year, band mastermind Astaroth Merc saw fit to release the excellent “Morphine Dead Gardens,” which was a more funeral doom approach to RAVENTALE.   “Planetarium II”, the 11th full length album from the project, sees RAVENTALE returning more to the black metal roots, although it still retains some doom elements albeit the funeral aspect is no longer present.

The album’s atmosphere is definitely as cold as the deepest voids of space—and the music reflects that and also a sheen of harrowing danger mixed with a desire to explore the unknown.  Musically, it can be quite melodic but the bombastic drums and vocals coat the whole thing in a definite raw-ish black metal extravagant.  The keys are well done…not so overbearing that it crosses into symphonic territory and becomes distracting but used just enough to not only add another dimension to the album’s sound but also help to highlight the other instruments.

Sheen Of Urania,” opens the album as an intro that is just under two minutes in length.  Unlike so many intros I suffer thru year after year, this one actually fits the mood and style of the album. The first proper track is “Extra Terrestrial Arcana,” a very immediate track that opens with the blackened growls, heavy yet melodic riffs, and pounding drums.  There is a theatrical feel to the song and probably would have made a decent intro on its own.  Spacey vibes from the keys highlight the passage at about a minute and a half thru the song and it flows pretty well from there.  The middle portion of the song is straight up black metal but it transitions smoothly to more lush passages.

Drinking Sulfur, Devouring The Sun,” eschews black metal briefly for a very MDM oriented passage that wouldn’t sound out of place on an old school IN FLAMES or DARK TRANQUILLITY album.  The clean passage that follows, coupled with the keys, is just beautiful.  It gets even more so with the extreme vocals growling over it—they so emotional and potent. “The Moon in the Seventh House,” is one of my favorites on the album because it has a slow doom like dirge that just hits the spot, as it is perfectly placed in the album to divide up the tracks and provide some fresh air.  The first few minutes of the song are a mixture of ambient textures, spacey music.  The last half of the song consists of a clever guitar solo, vicious vocals and more of those in depth textures that send the song off to the stratosphere.

Let The Fire Burn!” is a short but very, very biting track.  It has a slower doom like tempo but the vocals and drums give it a free flowing feel to it, making it a track that seems like it wouldn’t be as immediate as it really is.  The keyboards go a long way in enhancing this sort of dark sorrow. The final track, “Temple Of My Choice,” is another favorite of mine.  The blackened spoken word vocals work so well and bring out the melody behind them.  The keyboard laden middle passage of the song is just…lovely.  That is an odd word to use in a black metal review but, really, the entire album is just that emotive and moving.  The other half of the song is back to the black metal, bringing the album full circle.

I thought I would miss the funeral doom approach the previous album had but “Planetarium II” is a more than worthy album.  The black metal fury mixes so well with the doom elements that appear here and there.  On top of all that, the guitar melodies and keyboards make an already epic album even more so.  High recommended.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Sheen Of Urania
2. Extra Terrestrial Arcana
3. Drinkig Sulfur, Devouring The Sun
4. Route To Andromeda
5. The Moon in the Seventh House
6. Let The Fire Burn!
7. Earth (Alpha & Omega)
8. A Temple of My Choice
Astaroth Merc – Everything
Record Label: Ashen Dominion


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