Ashtar is cloaked in myteryy and misery. This is partially, if not mostly die to the fact that their debut Ilmasaari is the only thing the Swiss duo has released. Additionally the band is supported by the record label Czar of Crickets who have a roster full of near obscure Swiss metal acts. Add to this Czar of Crickets operates on a year to two year release schedule and one has a record which comes with mystery. These pieces of information are compounded by the fact that Ashtar is a fully competent black/doom act whose album is capable of almost cosmic things.
I am interested in the combination of black and doom metal mainly because it is a style which is not employed by many bands. For the most part black/doom is stoner doom with harsh black vocals. Ashtar plays the same type of black/doom as bands like Cough where the stoner metal template is corrupted with a vile persona leading to a black cloak which is filled with bong smoke. While this whole thing sounds predictable, Ashtar’s music and use of psychedelic leanings makes for a wildly unpredictable record which is filled with dramatic narratives and tense surprises. From post rock interludes, to blast beat segues, to dripping sludge verses to the fact this record came out of left field is all reason to reveal in chaos.
2015 is almost halfway done which means there is many more months to go. With that much time, there is room for other albums to float in from the aether and entertain without preamble. Ashtar is a discovery which is filled with surprise and pleasure at utter ruin. If Czar of Crickets keeps this up, I will be excited for their next record 5 years from now. Until then, I believe I will spin this record a few more times.