Album Review – Raventale / Planetarium II (2020)

A deep and profound journey through the black wastelands of extraneous cosmos offered by a Ukrainian one-man army in the form of first-class atmospheric and extreme music.

Playing what he likes to call “Atmospheric Blackened Metal” since the project’s inception in 2005 in Kyiv, Ukraine, the talented vocalist and mutli-instrumentalist Astaroth Merc, from bands like Balfor, Chapter V:F10 and P’hevda Phenomenon, returns in 2020 with his Atmospheric Black Metal alter ego Raventale armed with his eleventh (and grandiose) full-length album titled Planetarium II, the conceptual follow-up to his 2017 album Planetarium. Recorded at Miasma Studio between 2017 and 2020, featuring a celestial artwork by Belarusian artist Olga Kann and guest female vocals by Ukrainian singer Alina Belova (Helengard, Kauan), as well as a linguistic adaptation by Nataliia GrimMe, Planetarium II extends the analysis of extrapolation of cosmic mysteries, clandestine dimensions and extramundane weirdness, or in other words, it’s a deep and profound journey through the black wastelands of extraneous cosmos offered by Astaroth in the form of first-class atmospheric and extreme music.

Sheen Of Urania works as some sort of  wicked intro led by the crushing, razor-edged guitar lines by Astaroth, dragging us all to the doomed and atmospheric world of Raventale in Extra Terrestrial Arcana, where the imposing sounds blasted by Astaroth generate a menacing and epic ambience perfect for his demonic roars, resulting in a beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal creation bringing to our ears crisp solos, whimsical keys and endless epicness while also overflowing rage and insanity. Not only Drinking Sulfur, Devouring The Sun carries a beautiful name for a song just like what Cradle of Filth would offer us, but musically speaking it’s beyond sensational, with Astaroth and his Raventale continuing to blend classic Black Metal with the Symphonic Black Metal played by Dimmu Borgir and nuances of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom for our total delight; whereas a damned rhythm intertwined with stylish background keys and a futuristic vibe are the main ingredients in the breathtaking Route To Andromeda, with our lone wolf growling in the darkest way possible in perfect sync with his scorching, venomous riffs.

The Moon In The Seventh House, perhaps the most Stygian of all songs, is a lecture in atmospheric and grim music, with guest Alina Belova adding a touch of finesse to the overall result while Astaroth’s vicious riffage walks hand in hand with his blast beats and phantasmagorical keys; and as atmospheric as it can be from the very first second, Let The Fire Burn! is another imposing composition that paves Raventale’s cosmic path to the bold and multi-layered Earth (Alpha & Omega), sounding at the same time very fresh and modern while living up to the legacy of classic Symphonic Black Metal. Furthermore, Astaroth’s infernal growling makes a fantastic paradox with his classy keyboards, while the drums keep the song’s pace vibrant and heavy-as-hell. And finally, the Doom Metal-infused aria A Temple Of My Choice puts a melancholic and climatic ending to the album, showcasing Astaroth’s anguished gnarls, sluggish beats and a feeling that all hope is lost, with the music marching on stunningly while our one-man army simply kicks ass with all instruments from start to finish.

You can show your support to such skillful and hardworking black metaller by following Raventale on Facebook and on VKontakte, and by purchasing your copy of Planetarium II in just a few days from his own BandCamp page, as well as from Ashen Dominion’s BandCamp page or webstore. In the end, we must all admit Astaroth has definitely outdone himself with his newborn spawn, elevating his music to the same level as some of the biggest names of the genre including Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Septicflesh, to name a few, showing all his hard work through the years is truly paying off, positioning Raventale as one of the most prominent names of the Ukrainian scene and, above all that, offering us fans of atmospheric music the perfect soundtrack for exploring the vastness and obscurity of the cosmos.

Best moments of the album: Drinking Sulfur, Devouring The Sun, The Moon In The Seventh House and Earth (Alpha & Omega).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ashen Dominion

Track listing
1. Sheen Of Urania 1:53
2. Extra Terrestrial Arcana 6:38
3. Drinking Sulfur, Devouring The Sun 6:24
4. Route To Andromeda 5:48
5. The Moon In The Seventh House 7:06
6. Let The Fire Burn! 3:27
7. Earth (Alpha & Omega) 6:03
8. A Temple Of My Choice 5:30

Band members
Astaroth Merc – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Alina Belova – female vocals

1 thought on “Album Review – Raventale / Planetarium II (2020)

  1. Pingback: The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020 | THE HEADBANGING MOOSE

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