Imperial Dawn Records 2005

Keyboard laden black metal is not my normal cup of tea but every once in awhile a band comes along that restores some of the credibility to that style of music through the conviction of its music and the darkness it inspires.  Ishtar is just such a band.  I had not really been seeking anything from these guys nor expecting anything impressive out of it but an Austrian friend of mine kept telling me they were great.  Krig immediately kicks into high gear as The Abyss smashes out of the gates at a blistering pace.  It quickly settles into some riffs that are reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir's Stormblast with classical sounding piano synth and some cool cymbal rides.  One thing I really like about Ishtar is the fact that a lot of their music is very guitar driven which stands in stark contrast to other bands employing synths who are use the keyboard melodies to set the direction of the song.  The vocals are much higher pitched than a lot of their peers which helps to distinguish Ishtar from other bands playing a similar style.  All the songs are pretty similar in construction which means blasting Swedish blackened death riffs which give way to more mid-tempo keyboard laden interludes before kicking back into high gear.  Each song is fairly lengthy with the shortest song clocking in at almost 5 minutes and the longest of which is over 10 minutes.  I love the guitar tone on their more Stockholm Swedish death sounding riffs.  It has a very hollow quality about it.  And it kills me when someone does a snappy cymbal ride during a slower part and Agatash does this well.  Imperial Dawn seems to be releasing a bunch of high quality albums and this album is no exception.  Its roster is top notch with the likes of Odhinn, Ishtar, and In Battle.  Hopefully they can continue to keep this kind of talent and maintain a high standard with the quality of its releases.  I am sure Ishtar will continue to grow in popularity based on the strength of Krig.  I just hope they remember to avoid drowning in keyboards.