ASP are an unfathomable phenomenon in the German music scene. For years now they have been unresting, with blazing passion, constantly winning themselves an ever-larger audience far beyond any scene boundaries. At the same time they remain true to themselves and their music and regularly manage to achieve high positions in the official German music charts – completely without following mainstream trends. Fans of challenging lyrics and profound rock music have long since been aware that compositions of great strength and soothing melancholy are hidden away behind the gruesome makeup and the often alarming content. Up until now, hardly any band has managed to deliver entertaining and at the same time socio-critical content in the way that they have so skillfully managed in the atmospheric cosmos of this project.
This time, ASP return to the story cycle ‘FREMDER’ and bring the seeds that were sown on their German top ten album ‘fremd’ to full bloom. In contrast to the pure collection of songs that was ‘GeistErfahrer’, with ‘MASKENHAFT’, mastermind Alexander ‘Asp’ Spreng opens a chapter of a concept album and concentrates unequivocally on what the fans love and the band do so well. Eleven scary musical short stories contain the finely distilled skill and yet produce only the tiniest amount of literary unity. Each song captivates the listener by means of its own fantastic story, and slowly, just as dusk closes in on day, you begin to realise that the individual chapters coalesce to form a bigger picture, much in the manner of a jigsaw puzzle. Seldom have ASP seemed so detached from all the conventions of hit records, but because of this freedom they have managed to create catchy songs in the best possible meaning of the term. This time, instead of indulging himself in never ending tales, lyrics that seem light as a feather are to the fore. Upon closer observation, however, it becomes apparent that Asp has condensed his lyrics to the extreme, therefore being able to conserve their heavily distilled essence.
You almost get the feeling of having a sort of ‘best of’ in your hands. The new ASP album combines the playful charm of ASP classics such as ‘Aus der Tiefe’ with the earthy power of ‘fremd’. There are slow and heavy slabs of gothic rock as well as almost soundtrack-like sounds; combinations of metal riffs and delicate folk like moments. In short, ASP have once again united all manner of gloomy, shimmering styles in such a way that best serves the narration, as if to form their very own ‘gothic novel rock’. However, the emphasis lies on dark, driving rock which exudes an additional cool heaviness. In any case, you find yourself immediately longing to be able to experience these songs in a live setting.
We all wear masks all too often; we all encounter each other as strangers. Gloomy, outlandishly, mischievously, Asp points this out to us in his songs. He holds up a mirror before us, in which he himself is depicted as the strangest of all the aliens in this world.