Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Ashtar : "Kaikuja"
Here is a Swiss band named after an alien titling their album in Finnish. Their music is easier to grasp than that. They are black metal with some sludge influence. It is suitibly dark enough for me. The fact that they do not live on blast beats alone is also a key selling point for me. The female half of this duo also plays violin, which adds more texture and melody leading into the almost 14 minute second song. There is a more throbbing doomy feel to this ominous song. Thick with foreboding as it drags you into it's despairing drift. Normally I do not like when songs cross the ten minute mark as they often feel bloated and ponderous, but this one has a mood that draws me in and finds me not looking at the clock. One of the album's strong points is heard in their ability to add layers in order to slowly shift the dynamics. They drone on the one theme then in the last four minutes dig harder into the riff.
Yes there are doom like qualities to how they let some of the riffs drag, they also use very black metal tropes like tremolo picked riffs. The vocals are very hateful . They help to tip them into the black metal side of the fence. This album serves as a strong argument why more black metal bands should consider using varied tempos. When they do going into the faster blasting there is more of a contrast. They become increasingly downtrodden on " the Closing" . Sonically it is not as impressive as the last song "(she is ) Awakening". This returns to more of a flowing ooze of a throb. Here the screams ring out over the grim pulse with more disdain. There is almost a rock n roll feel to some of the riffs that roll out once the song begins moving. The riffs evolve and ring out with a more chilling dissonance.
This band should stay on peoples minds as one who tried to push black metal out of stagnantion this year. They did not need to reinvent the wheel. They only needed to care about song writing and have a willining ness to bring different textures to the table. It makes this album very easy to listen repeatedly and for that reason I will round this up to a 9. Do not it as this is easy listening, nor is it making black metal more accessible. It is simply shifting the colors of blackness.