It’s been five years since we were graced with Ashtar’s presence; Ilmasaari was a very notable and satisfying record, and Kaijuka even more so.
The band once again incorporate elements of doom, black metal, and sludge into their sound, while also broadening their style to include elements of post-rock and drone too, the latter significantly in places. It’s not the only change, as Kaikuja also brings in a harsher sound overall, both in aggressive tone and production values, but this only works in Ashtar’s favour.
These new songs are all well-written and immersive, soaking the listener in blackened vibes and dark atmosphere. Blistering black metal aggression is merged with slow, crushing dark doom, to great effect. The band’s faster parts are filled with the sort of raw energy that revitalises as much as it beats you down with its relentless violence. The slower sections are sludgy, grim, and oppressively heavy. Lighter moments appear, adding texture and showcasing the band’s post-rock abilities. There’s occasional violin too, which is very effective.
Taken all together, and combined into five compelling songs, Kaikuja is a very strong second outing for this band. Ashtar have produced 39 minutes of material that takes the strengths of Ilmasaari and improves on them at every turn. Kaikuja is the sort of record that will keep you up at night, in more ways than one.