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Blackened Metal from Ukraine - 92%

Jabawock, June 6th, 2013

Raventale is a one-man black metal band from Ukraine, so far releasing 6 albums at a steady pace, creating a rather solid back-catalog. This cd, "Transcendence", is their 6th and latest release. To describe the band's sound, I would refer to a combination between some recent atmospheric black metal works, such as Lunar Aurora's Hoagasht, or Drudkh's Eternal Turn of the Wheel, as well as some death/doom, in the vein of Brave Murder Day era Katatonia. Astaroth, the man behind Raventale, describes its style as "Atmospheric Blackened Metal", and I must say this is quite relevant; a strong black metal atmosphere without clearly falling into a specific genre.

I have been following this band in the past years, and I chose to review this album in particular as it appears to me as one of the, if not the strongest album they released so far. Being familiar with the band's previous efforts, the first thing one would notice on this album is the change in production quality. While the previous albums have been rather clean sounding (again, think Brave Murder Day or Inside the Fall here), this one is very rough in comparison. The guitars are still thick, but with a sharp, rough edge to them. While this could have been a bad idea, here it turns out quite well, adding to that "blackened" sound, and making the music more direct somehow. The first notes of the album directly catch the listener's attention, as he embarks on this dark journey "Transcendence" offers.

This album contains 4 long tracks, each passing the 10 minutes mark. Each song stands well on its own, but also fits within the atmosphere of the whole cd. The riffs are very strong, very catchy and powerful, yet they are not dragged so long as in other black metal acts (especially DSBM). Each riff is exploited in an optimal way, and followed by a different one just in time to keep things interesting for the listener. I also don't find there to be a lot of filler riffs, if any, which makes those long songs very worthwhile.

The vocals are mostly standard grunts and screams, well executed, and also well distinctive in the production, while keeping the overall rough feel, constant through the cd. While previous Raventale cds often contain some instrumental tracks, here all four songs have vocals, which adds more intensity to them. The drums keep a steady, mid paced tempo most of time, bearing enough variation not to sound monotonous, but without much noteworthy features I must say, although it doesn't bother me in this case.

Finally, I would like to mention the clever use of synths; never as lead instrument, but more to create additional layers of atmosphere. They mostly stay in the background, not imposing themselves to the listener, only surfacing in breaks of the music, or during distorted arpeggios in the guitar lines.

In conclusion, this is a very powerful release. In contrast with the previous Raventale albums, which could keep playing in the background without me noticing too much, with this album I'm always caught in the atmosphere and the groove of the riffs. The composition here is very strong, so I definitely recommend this cd! Let's hope the band continues its progression, as it is getting better and better....