Here is the second major release by Ashen Dominion, the brand new Raventale album. Initially a one-man project of Astaroth Merc that started in 2005, I had the opportunity to see them live twice though I remained inquisitive.
Because Raventale is one curious beast. Fascinating, yet ever intriguing, I feel there’s always some more to perceive further. It has not been to the point of twisting me into an album devourer, but it indeed made me cast a glance at the previous releases, just to understand and follow the path it took.
Firstly, going from what the man himself would describe as “atmospheric blackened metal” to funeral doom could be one considerable shift but actually not that much. It is, of course, different but logical in the end. I feel it as an in-depth study of discrete elements, of what could be subtle forerunners here and there before. So this is primarily less about the clever, refined ornamentation-like work of the atmospheric though there is pleasingly still a bit of its influence. The focus is on a slowed, laboured intensity as it means to be. Thus, regarding the usual riffs approach as well as the drums, it was rather brave to entirely re-think them.
While this is an ambient album in most parts, there is an exception for the ultimate and almost eponymous track. From what I sensed in the earlier opuses of similar structure, these songs generally hold a special position because of their distinct dynamic. Compared to the gloomy climate, “Morphine Gardens” sounds hauntingly dreamy. It feels like losing itself within, the strain lingering from time to time, merging together to the inexorable end.
All in all, Morphine Dead Gardens has nothing repellent because of the new direction taken by the band, quite the opposite. This is a proficient and beautiful album which made me like the rest of the discography even more.
Morphine Dead Gardens is out now.