One of my fellow scribes summarized his distaste for atmospheric black metal as follows: “Whenever someone mentions atmospheric black metal, I automatically know that there is going to be a lot of standing around and doing nothing”. While this is applicable to most of today’s bands that overdo the repetition part, not all bands can be generalized like this. Done right, this form of music can result in something grim and beautiful. Case in point is the new record from Raventale, titled ‘Dark Substance of Dharma’. The seventh full length from this Ukranian one man project takes a thematic shift towards Indian and Tibetan philosophy, and the music showcases a fine balance of atmosphere, synth melody and guitar riffs.
The Indian culture has very rich mythologies and philosophies that can aptly serve as the theme for a metal album. Ironically, there are more bands outside India that take inspiration from these themes than bands within India itself. The latest band to do so, is the one man atmospheric black metal outfit Raventale from Ukraine. The band’s upcoming full length ‘Dark Substance of Dharma’ deals with the philosophies of karma and dharma. Playing a style of doom flavoured atmospheric black metal, the music has a transcendental feel to it and is perfect for talking about these subject matters.
Whenever I listen to some of the recent bands that play the viking metal style, I always think to myself, “Isn’t this about Vikings? Shouldn’t it be rawer and darker?”. That is the problem with this genre. Many bands that take it up end up following the melodic and symphonic route, to the point where it just doesn’t feel raw. In the case of Ukraine’s Miellnir, there are symphonic elements and melodic undertones, but their take on the Viking style is one that is raw and blackened. Their debut release on Stygian Crypt Productions, 2014’s ‘Incineration Astern’ is a serious take on the genre and one that does not place restrictions on the symphony and grandiosity.