Saturday, 9 April 2016

Raventale: Dark Substance of Dharma

I stumbled across Raventale quite by accident recently, whilst browsing Spotify.  I tend to have a trawl through random tracks occasionally in the hope of discovering something great that I've not heard of before, although this is with the intention of buying if I actually like something rather than taking something for nothing (I'm one of those old fashioned individuals who is willing to actually contribute something to an artist who creates work that I'm happy to enjoy...).  Anyway, there was this, which I expected little from given the overwhelming mass of largely derivative Black Metal acts that have appeared over the last quarter of a century.  To be fair to them it's quite difficult not to be derivative if you're a Black Metal act because the genre operates within very narrow parameters by its own definitions and principles.  Raventale, however, somehow managed to catch my attention.  So I bought the CD, Dark Substance of Dharma, which they released in 2015.  It's available to download also (legally) but admittedly I did find the CD very difficult to get hold of, something that adds to its esoteric, underground nature for me, but surely wouldn't do sales much good (this Ukraine act has been going a number of years with plenty of albums behind them it turns out, so I think some improved marketing should be on the cards personally).
Opening track Intra-Mantra is a moody introduction that leads directly into the positively explosive and epic Destroying the Seeds of Karma, I think the track that grabbed me when I initially stumbled on them online.  But this album is no one-hit wonder - the track is immediately followed by the groove-filled riffs of the title track, nicely progressing into some very speedy and again epic metal to monumental effect - between them those two tracks run to over fifteen minutes, but their combined beauty never gets boring.  Following that is the shorter, more chaotic and aggressive Kali's Hunger.  Then we are treated to the unusual Red Laugh's Walking, again a shorter track (this is not a band who creates long, repetitive songs just for the sake of it - looking at you, Maiden and Exodus!) with some urgent riffing mixed in with more mellow segments.  Next up is I am the Black Tara, again returning to epic, fast-paced material with a distinctive melodic edge.  Raventale keep things interesting with tempo changes and a creative drive alongside pleasingly solid production.  ...Black Tara also features quite a beautiful mellow piece of clean guitar giving away hints of Bathory's range of Black and Viking Metal over the years.  The Hecate Enthroned feel is evident on this album, with echoes of the better tracks from Slaughter of Innocence, albeit with a heavier production (something I always thought that album could have benefitted from).  ...Dharma leaves the listener with Last Moon Fermata, a mid-paced closer with some chunky riffs.

I don't frequently buy Black Metal albums these days, even though the genre was a big part of my music history and enjoyment, getting into Bathory early on, then the so-called 2nd wave when all that kicked off at the beginning of the 90s, but I tend to reserve the buying nowadays for stuff that's a bit special.  This is really because there's far too much similar material out there to have hundreds of discs and remain interested.  Raventale is an act that's refreshed my interest and I've listened to this album quite a few times now - thoroughly enjoying its twists, turns, and perceptive approach to Black Metal.  I'm now looking into buying their entire back catalogue (they've released seven albums including this one!).

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