When you ask someone to name a punk band from mainland Europe I can guarantee the band most people would name would be Austria’s ASTPAI. Recently they released their brand new album Burden Calls. Here is my review.
Burden Calls starts out with lead singer Zocks distinctive voice singing over the sound of what sounds like the sound of a working factory before the band kick in to play Single use. Musically the song is more technical than I have heard of previous ASTPAI releases but the passion and ferocity is still there as Zock sings about how people are going backwards and relying too much on technology. The following song Dead End Talking goes back into familiar ASTPAI territory. It’s a melodic punk song about the frustrations of being annoyed with something and wanting to fight it but not knowing how. I love how the bass takes the lead during the second verse. Track three is an interesting sounding song called Out. After some crashing guitars at the beginning it’s a slow building song that slowly launches into life as Zock really stretches his vocal chords to sing the last part of the song. The super cool kid in me really loved the sound bite of from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie at the end of the song.
Death Everywhere is the name of the fourth song on Burden Calls. This is a mid tempo song with a very catchy chorus that goes “death everywhere, death everywhere, six feet under or overground, death all around.” This is followed up by After All, a song that starts of slow (reminding me of a Finch song Say Hello To Sunshine) before picking the aggression up instrumentally midway through the song. It’s a different sounding song where the vocals are only in the slow paced beginning section of the song. The beginning of the next song Departure sounds like what AC/DC would sound like if they were a punk rock band. This song has more of a pop punk feel to it and I can imagine it being hugely popular with a live crowd.
Ground Control is another song from Burden calls that I imagine would go down famously in a live setting. It’s a mid tempo sing along that tells the story of an astronaut wanting to come back to earth. This is followed by a one-two punch of the two shortest songs on the album. The first of these is Down By Love which is an instrumental accompanied by a sound bite from the 1986 film Down By Law. The same riffs are used as an intro to Resignation. A fast and furious punk rock song which just doesn’t relent throughout. The standout track on Burden Calls is definitely Careers. Another song that will start huge sing alongs as the band talk about the frustrations of being in job that you don’t like. The band drop the music out during the song to give full vocal attention to the lyrics “these days I question everything, and find myself asking if we are soulmates by nature, or soulmates by choice?, do we share the same content or just produce the same noise?, do we care for another when we face our deepest fears?, are we the difference that we’re praising or just stuck in shitty careers?” Potentially the most powerful lyrics on Burden Calls.
The tempo is upped on the eleventh track on the album – Small Change. Another track with more of a pop punk feel to it, I really like the use of what sounds like an organ during the long intro of the song, it gives ASTPAI a whole new sound. The penultimate track is called Oxygen. Following the upbeat sound of Small Change Oxygen has more of a self-depreciating feel to it. The song has a punchy quality to it as Zock reflects on life and progress. Burden Calls final track is the over five minute long Emotion In The Way. This is another reflective song about the troubles a band faces after the initial excitement of starting a band. Like the title suggests the song takes you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster as the drums, guitars and vocals all come together brilliantly. This song is a perfect song to finish on, whether it’s an album or at the end of a live set it just feels right.
Burden Calls is another fantastically good release from this Austrian four piece. The album flows along and a good pace, the songs are varied but never stray from the ASTPAI sound that many people have fallen in love with.
Stream and buy Burden Calls here: https://astpai.bandcamp.com/
Now listening to When I Was A Boy I Thought I Was A Fish by The Smith Street Band