Astpai are an Austrian band, or perhaps the Austrian band. After over a decade of touring and releasing music, their latest full-length, True Capacity, is a release that captures their song writing at a special time. Enthusiasm and maturity are key here; this is clearly a band that have learned from every release and every live show, and have developed a sound that fits them beautifully as musicians.
A guitar line twinkles above chugging bass and building drums to start ‘Rotten Bait’ the opening track of an album full of wonderfully developed melodic hardcore. On a knife edge the drums change, and the instrumentation follows suit leading into a contrasting vocal full of grit. Even in the opening interchange there is something exciting about this release and there is a slight fear that after such a strong start this release might waiver – it doesn’t.
This is far from a music by numbers effort with the album taking on many musical identities as it progresses. There are moments that could easily slip into a completely different release. ‘Lottery’ takes surf vibes and turns them on their head with an angular guitar hook and sparse drumming, while ‘Best Years’ could be on any mature pop punk release and is full of infectious hooks and chugging bass. ‘Feel Your Pain’ offers a moment of calm with a beautiful contrast in light guitars and a gentle gnarled vocal.
There are clear nods towards their previous harder works which sit perfectly alongside some incredibly sweet guitar moments. The musical interchange is flawless with rhythm and guitars sharply in tune with the vocal delivery. There are easy comparisons to make with bands like Satanic Surfers and 88 Fingers Louie, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find more surprising similarities; he deep bass lines have an air of Rival Schools, the gentle guitar intros recall Hundred Reasons, and there are some incredibly technical moments reminiscent of This Is A Standoff and Tallships.
True Capacity shows-off a decades worth of hard work. Punk combines effortlessly with a very European sounding melodic hardcore to create an individual hybrid. But I have a feeling these songs need to be heard live to really be appreciated.
True Capacity is out now via Shield Recordings.