Austrian touring machine Astpai are ready to release their sixth full length album unto the world. Astpai has held a low profile recently. Their previous album Burden Calls is from 2014. Ok, there was 7” somewhere between these albums, but still. Astpai once started out as a punk band in the Strike Anywhere camp. Over the time this band has matured and found a niche of their own. A niche where the tempo is a bit more moderate. A niche that reminds me a bit of that time when org-core was at the height of its popularity.
The album opens with “Rotten Bait”. You are slowly introduced to the album by some mild strumming. This gradually builds up to the mixture of melodic hardcore and (pop) punk. A couple of riffs further and we are really into the song. By now Zock starts singing. His voice is the reason I’ve had some difficulty writing this review. Some days I felt his voice didn’t fit the music, other days I could not imagine anyone else singing this. Most of the time he uses a very gruff style of singing that does not seem to correspond with the thoughtful lyrics. His voice is an acquired taste. What saves him is the honesty and passion. He sounds believable. That’s something to cherish, I think. Especially considering the introspective lyrics the band has written over the years. The promo tells me the lyrics are more philosophical and self-critical and self-analytical. The lyrics are not exactly upbeat or outspoken positive. Yet, it sounds true when Zock sings: love is a strong word when you don’t mean it!
After listening this record at least a dozen times it kept bugging me: there’s something in their sound that reminds of another band, but what band? I checked a couple of reviews and found Astpai compared to Gnarwolves, RX Bandits, The Flatliners amongst others. Not bad comparisons, but not what I was looking for. Next I checked my own record collection, starting with my org core records. There I found it: Nothington’s Roads, Bridges and Ruins. And although you could draw a comparison between these records, the main thing that makes them alike (to me) is the feeling they give me. I’m listening to some heartfelt emotion on both records.
There’s two more things that urgently need to be discussed. Let’s start of with production. It’s a production that fits this music like a glove. The vocals are kind of up front, but they should be. What I like most though is the fact that the rhythm section gets the opportunity to make itself really heard. I just love it when I can actually hear the bass player. In the end, every instrument gets enough room to be heard. The other thing I really need to mention is the artwork. It’s simple, it’s bright and somehow speaks to me. It transmits the same feeling or emotion as the music.
To close this review of, let me recommend you three tracks to check out. As an easy intro, start with the albums single “Best Years”. It’s a catchy, easy to sing along to kinda song. Just push play and you’ll find yourself singing along: is that the best you’ve got? Hungry for more after that? Then continue to check “Feel Your Pain”. It’s one of those heavy songs. Not heavy as in: loud and obnoxious, but as in filled to the brim with pain and loss. This song to me is what the album sounds like in one song. The last song to check is the title track “True Capacity”. This is by far the loudest track. It’s also a bit different from the rest of the tracks. It reminds me of a more organic sounding Helmet. It’s a bit different from the rest of the album and perhaps that makes it one the stand out tracks.
Posted May 7, 2018, 10:12 p.m.
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Next month Broadcaster and Astpai will tour Europe together, joined along the way by Timeshares, who have a nwe album on SideOneDummy. Dates are below.
Posted Feb. 16, 2015, 1:13 p.m.
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