Raventale is certainly not an unfamiliar name for the most attentive observers of the extreme scene of Eastern Europe. The Ukrainian one man band, whose owner is Astaroth Merc, with Planetarium arrives at the eighth full length in a dozen years of activity marked by a very high average quality, offering a personal interpretation of black metal that, in my opinion, with this latest album finds its sublimation. Planetarium contains four beautiful tracks, in which the extreme component is brilliantly diluted by a melodic inspiration pushed to its highest level, as can be easily seen by listening to the opening track Gemini – Behind Two Black Moons, a track so airy that sometimes ends up lapping the post black and even progressive, when a poignant guitar solo appears. After all, we don’t discover today the fact that Astaroth Merc is a musician of crystalline class and every instrument that passes through his hands is treated with mastery, leaving as usual to a guest (in this case the excellent Atahamas, his companion also in Balfor and Deferum Sacrum) the task of interpreting the vocal lines. After the beautiful first track, the sound becomes even more solemn and majestic with the masterpiece Bringer Of Celestial Anomalies, a song more harsh and rhythmic but enthralling as it rarely happens to listen: a furious blast beat is mostly overlaid by keyboard strokes that give the whole a magical cosmic aura capable in these cases to make a difference. After so much beauty it’s objectively difficult to do better, and At The Halls Of The Pleiades offers a more grim face, with its deep riffing that doesn’t penalize an atmospheric component that, on the contrary, takes up a lot of space in the central phase of the song; the closing is instead entrusted to New World Planetarium, another episode that exceeds ten minutes, overall more compassed without losing the mood that marked the album along the previous half hour. Wanting to make a parallelism perhaps audacious, Planetarium could represent the ideal continuation of the speech that Arcturus brought forward initially with Constellation and then with Aspera Hiems Simfonia, before abandoning that vein prog atmospheric to veer on avant-garde sounds, since those milestones of the work weblog Raventale possesses the same breath suggestive cosmic. To this picture it should be added that the black metal proposed by Astaroth Merc is also marked by a doom component, perhaps today more attitudinal than expressed with particular slowdowns: but it is no coincidence, however, that the Ukrainian musician has been called to exhibit the talents of his creature at the recent Doom Over Kiev, festival that has seen the work of the highest expression of European atmospheric doom death with Saturnus, Swallow the Sun, Clouds and Eye Of Solitude. All this gives an idea of what consideration Raventale enjoy in their homeland and, in light of this, it would be nice if most of the fans of black doom outside those borders would give the right emphasis to a project led by a musician who, like few others, has managed to produce with such continuity albums of absolute value.

2017 – Ashen Dominion