600 Pounds Of Body EBM, Old School EBM Astma Introduction Years have passed since my hopes were at their highest to finally get a full dose of Astma’s Music via any kind of media. The wait is over. ‘600 Pounds Of Body” is now out and ready for action. Outside of some compilation tracks and some YouTube videos, good luck finding anything from this three-piece Swedish EBM militia. Hence why this is a great day for the EBM lovers! Astma recorded their first track “Lord Of Chaos” back in 2001.  Magnus and Stefan were playing in several bands at the time, with Stroma being the main project. Astma was one of the projects they used when writing old school EBM. By 2004 they more or less abandoned all other projects to focus on Astma. In 2007 they had their first gig in Germany and asked Robert to join the band full time. Astma usually plays only a few gigs a year with their next scheduled for Liviv, Ukraine later this month. Astma draws a strong influence from the Old School. Bands like Swedish legends Pouppee Fabrikk and Controlled Analogue Programming harness the same type of aggression that Astma displays in each and every song. Old School EBM has its staples like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Nitzer Ebb. Astma take elements from the style and blend more modern influences while still retaining the Old School sound. As we look over the double CD featuring 3 pairs of boots as the focal point of the artwork one could assume, based on Astma’s sense of humor that each member averages about 200 pounds in weight. We also know most of the 42 songs on the double album clock in under 3 minutes long. At the top left corner of the front cover Astma snuck in a tribute to Front 242 (2CDs 42 tracks).  Chris Lewis of Red +Test did the artwork while label mate Arnte of Pyrroline and Norschlacht fame mastered all 42 tracks. This is the first volume of the EBM Trilogy featuring Astma. Volume 2 will feature K Factor and Volume 3 unleashes the Serpents.   Chapter – 1     Telephones & Coffee "Telephone Terror" serves as the opener for disc 1 of '600 Pounds of Body'. Astma introduces us to their terrifying fears of answering the telephone. It rings, but no one will answer the phone. What if it's a large festival promoter calling to book Astma? Maybe it's a bloodthirsty telemarketer hell-bent on selling you a magazine subscription? Ring, ring , ring, Come on guys, and answer that annoying phone! With samples of various familiar phone related sounds set to muscular big time beats, we are treated to glimpse inside the world of telephone phobia. Bad news? Good News? Fear of being judged by others are just some of  the thoughts eating away at the minds of the afflicted. Perhaps one late night the phone rings and there is no answer. It happens again and again until paranoia completely takes control. The theme reminds me of the classic 1964 Twilight Zone episode "Night Call" where an elderly woman receives mysterious phone calls one stormy night. The origin of the phone calls is traced to a fallen wire that was resting on the grave of her deceased fiancé. Ultimately, I think the phone just rings at inconvenient times. Do Astma members drink too much coffee? Do they stay up too late worrying about telephones and hippies? Well, the track "Perculator" brews up some fun yet powerful waves of murderous caffeine- induced rhythms set to the extreme need to saturate one's body with excessive amounts of coffee.  Based on my coffee bean research, it would appear based on the aggression of the music and the layout of the composition; the coffee would need to be of high quality, perhaps something out of the Costa Rican regions of Tarrazu, Tres Rios or the West Valley. I would personally recommend the brand Coope Victoria. Beans from these areas are typically resistant leaf rust and the stem boring pests known as Xylutrechus Quadripes.  This rich blend is a perfect complement to writing fat basslines and stomping beats with all other concerns set aside. Drink up! Hippy guys, hippy guys, let's talk about those hippies I mentioned above. Imagine chasing around some longhaired fellows with your finest line of Kamisori shears. Of course only the best shears should be used to make your point regarding one's hair length. "Cut It Short" is a playful marketing blitz for those hairy peace pushing peeps known as hippies to reduce their hair length to above the shoulders. Astma uses this song to point out that hippies are the opposite of the EBM stomper. Astma has nothing against hippies. The band even stated they dig Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Doors. The band also stated, without feeling a need to reach for a pair of scissors they can enjoy having some beers with the longhaired folk. Grab a brew and check out the animated You Tube video for "Cut It Short". "Suffer And Pain" hides nothing when it comes to depression and apathy. Depression affects millions of people worldwide. People cope with it in many ways, some more self-destructive than others. Prescription drugs such as Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac are common methods of combating depression. Unfortunately others reach for illegal drugs or alcohol, and some choose isolation. Raw vocals and hulking beats rip through belly of the song revealing the horrors of being alone and having one's cries for help go unanswered.   Chapter – 2     War  Like a rolling fog, the thumping bassline creeps over an excerpt from what appears to be a sample from a World War 1 documentary. We all know many soldiers never returned from the battlefields. "Unknown Soldier" seems address that very theme. The lyrics repeat the lines "Dead and Buried" and "No one knows his name" as well as, "August 3, 1917".  That is the date Germany declared war on France. The French losses were high compared to other countries.  All the training in the world is not always enough to ensure survival. The vocals vary from the throaty CAP-like to a slightly higher pitch giving another dimension to this powerful track. Oddly enough, out of coincidence, this part of the review was written on August 3rd. Whoa! The bass keeps pounding the message home about war. "No Surrender".  As the enemy approaches there is no retreat. The chanted chorus "No retreat, no surrender!" make this a no-brainer for a sing along. Enter "449 Metal Bullets" made famous by the 'Hymns of Steel' compilation back in 2006. This was huge dose of old school EBM influenced artists such as C.A.P, Ionic Vision, Militant Cheerleaders on the Move, Volt and Jager 90.  Nearly every track on this compilation is top-notch EBM power. Astma's "449 Metal Bullets" remained in constant rotation ever since. The energy and sheer desire to completely take over the compilation was evident here. It was unmatched. Now, 9 years later an exceptional new version recorded in 2008 appears on this monstrous document of Astma's existence.  There is no let down of the sheer force that made "449 Metal Bullets" such a staple in many playlists. This is truly a Hymn of steel! In the factory (also known as the "Power Plant") we earn a salary. "Nuclear energy" is shouted at the end of the song revealing the type of power plant.  It all starts in the factory. Workers arrive each and every day.  They punch the clock and produce what the work orders state. The politicians lay the groundwork and factory workers bring those plans to life. All of these late hours at the factory begin to take their toll on the body. You realize you are now old and your knees ache and the mind is breaking down. This is "Human Decay". Hopefully our workers have a nice pension to help with retirement. As the chorus repeatedly shouts "Human Decay" to a pummeling beat that vibrates your cartilage and forces your body into submission. This is the EBM version of a Web MD diagnosis on aging. As the years roll by with a life so consumed with work and other things, we have this life defining moment of clarity. This moment reveals we never made time for the little things. Life passed us by and there is no time left to go back. It reminds me of something my good friend Bob told me. We should make time to see and be with our loved ones.  Family gatherings around holiday times are ever changing with new additions and empty spaces for those we lost. I have since made extra efforts to do just that. I love playing with my daughter even when I am drop dead tired. Soon she'll have other interests and those silly little games she likes to play will eventually fade away to other endeavors. Of course, Astma' s take on this is set to some extreme boot thumping thrusts with dose of tormented reflections focused on the past.   Chapter – 3     Things are getting a little creepy People say and do a variety of things that can be construed as creepy and/or inappropriate depending on the context of the moment. It could be as simple as a comment taken the wrong way or someone consistently trying to make contact with you through conversation or as deranged as a person walking through heavily crowded areas such as subways, concerts or sporting events just to get off on rubbing against people. Yeah, people actually do it. I read it on the internets! "Stalking You" takes it to the next level of watching your object of desire through the windows, following the suitor to work or wherever they go. It's the next stage in creepiness. Astma keeps the beat aggressive to compliment the nature of the subject matter. If all of this isn't making you feel like your epidermis is squirming like a patient afflicted with Ekbom's Syndrome, perhaps being the star of a snuff film is all you need to fill in the gaps of all your uncertainty. "Director's Cut" is the movie you never want to see. It will never be on TV and you are the star. Perhaps when all the stalking is over and snuff film has made its rounds and has been seen by the elite psychopaths who enjoy such things, it's time for some more depraved enjoyment. Enter Mr. Miller! Mr. Miller is a self-proclaimed serial killer psychopath capable of many inhumane acts toward living creatures such as humans. "Mr. Miller" was recorded back in 2007 as tribute to horror movies. There are plenty serial killers in the movies and on television. Who is your favorite? For me it's the cadaver creating master of murder, Mr. Motherf**king Miller! Throughout the track every beat creates an image of arm rising to bring down a painful depth charge to his flesh-covered blood-soaked canvas.  Chapter-4        Parking in Sweden for Tourists and Locals I have been thinking about taking a nice trip to visit Sweden. Outside of some websites and magazine articles, I know very little on how to prepare for a stay in Sweden.  I am relying solely on Astma to help me prepare my possible trip. I picked up their '600 Pounds of Body' knowing there is a lot of information regarding Sweden from the view point of three standup gentlemen that actually live there. Although I am not planning to rent a car, based on information obtained from '600 Pounds of Body', the evil parking maids can be a complete nightmare with their pencils and sheets patrolling the streets. 700Kr is a steep fee for a poorly parked vehicle. As for the climate in Sweden, the temperatures are influenced by the countless lakes and of course the Gulf Stream. In the winter you can expect flight delays, black ice, snow, power outages, stiff limbs and complete numbness. Saying that they don't want the perfect opportunity to pass by, the EBM terrorians, Robert, Magnus and Stefan were quoted in GQ Magazine with regards to their last shouting session with the season saying, "Screw You Summer!" as well as "You are not welcome!”  Octogenarian and avid traveller, Mervin Levinson from New Jersey was quoted as saying "summer in Sweden is alright, but what's the deal with all the freakin' snakes? The last time I was there, a European Adder sunk its fangs into my left leg and I hallucinated for hours in writhing agony until finally being treated at a local clinic. Who the hell expects to be bitten by a snake in Sweden of all places! Fuck that!” Pennsylvania man, Steven Gullotta stated a snake in Sweden once attacked him during his study abroad days. He quite elegantly said “ I got bit by a fucking snake so I bit it back”. Both the snake a Steven has since made amends and lives close due to job relocations. The two are often seen in downtown Philadelphia having a brew or catching a Phillies game. Astma had thoughts of writing more songs to include their hate for not only summer and winter, but to include Spring and Fall as well. They decided to write a happier song about "A Global Game" known as futbol or fusssball. Everyone in Sweden probably enjoys a good game of futbol or fussball.  ABC reporter, Pilar Jacobs caught up with one many fans of the global game asking for their thoughts on the game. Area man, Bard Eilhard whom simply replied, "fussball, fussball fussball". We learned a lot through Astma's lyrics. Perhaps travel advice from Astma may not be the best course of action. "Winter Hate", "Summer Plague", "Evil Bitches" & "Snake Bite" all feed the fires of Astma's sense of humor. One testimonial states, "The dudes just pummel you with an intense onslaught of ferocious beats and napalm guzzling vocals no matter what the topic is. The song lyrics could be about lovable baby owls or even puppies, but the music and vocals will tell a tale of bestial invasion and corporeal evisceration". – Mike Pierzynski, Parsippany, NJ. Chapter -5       On the road with Mr. Miller With cops on to Mr. Miller's quest to murder the world, he must decide where to escape to so he can start over and continue take human life. As he drives he thinks he hears a voice say "Where Are You"? He drives for hours through the vast highways of Sweden he tunes in the ESP radio for some positive vibes while plots he his escape.  Again he hears "Where Are You"? He ignores it only to recognize it as yet another Astma track on ESP radio. Bobbing his head to the beat "Where Are You" stands out as one a few tracks where the vocals are bit tamer. He keeps on his course to nowhere that most-likely ends in damnation. Mr. Miller always dreamed of going to Japan ever since heard "Body in Japan" by Astma. The song mentioned everything about Japan from Kawasaki to sake. It was the band's tribute to a culture they adore. Mr. Miller recalls in past interview he did for Serial Killer Weekly, "I love trying to hear every lyric over the booming electronics. In turn I actually learned some cool words." Lucky for Mr. Miller he knows Japan is a short drive from Sweden.  During his journey in his 2003 Saab 9-5, ESP radio is playing Astma's "Dead End". He totally digs the Front 242 feel not only in music but the vocals as well. This track was featured on the Sham Recordings 2007 vinyl 7" compilation 'Swedish Old School EBM'.  With cleaner vocals and a slower beat this is a great tune to drive to.  A sense of purpose and relaxation consumes Mr. Miller. In a 2007 interview with the trashy Serial Killer magazine – Shredding Drifter Quarterly, he stated, "Dead End is a wonderful song. It clearly shows another side to Astma's music. Whenever I hear it, I think about old man Henson. Yeah Hank I believe was his name. I had him laid out on my kill table with railroad spikes driven into each of his hands and I used a neon green children's jump rope to secure his body while marinating his feet in teriyaki sauce in another room. I remember pulling out his esophagus with homemade fishhook and plastic spork. I'll never forget the WTF look in eyes. It was great day". "Dead End" also hints to a possible outcome of Mr. Miller's escape plan. Unaware due to the sheer intensity of the situation with law enforcement hot on his tail, Mr. Miller truly believes there is a road that connects Sweden and Japan. This road will lead to nowhere. Stay tuned for more details.   Chapter – 6     The Many Faces Of Mr. Miller By now we know Mr. Miller is a very dangerous man. He becomes even more dangerous when he falls under the influences of Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, The Blister Exists and Full Contact 69. Signal Aout 42 kicks off their rendition with a familiar SA 42 electro assault in the introduction stage to the track with tweaks in the DNA of the music throughout, will easily tip off die-hard fans of who the remixer is. The Mighty Signal Aout 42, a personal favorite of mine! If you haven’t heard of Signal Aout 42 you are missing a lot of what made Belgium the hub of some of the best music of the 80’s and 90’s. Next up Mr. Miller gets a facelift from Plastic Noise Experience. He will need to disguise himself if he wants to continue to pillage humanity with his homicidal ways. PNE dazzles us with some killer synthwork set to a faster pace that may induce cultish dance rituals similar to what Mr. Miller was known to do in some of his desert kills in the late 80’s. The reign of terror continues when The Blister Exists agitates Mr. Miller to the point of no return. A killing frenzy of metal riffs and twisted musical manipulations bring a sense of the terrifying things to come. This is the killing storm in full force. Blood is everywhere!!!! Full Contact 69 helps Mr. Miller decide what macabre act he will perform next. Full Contact 69 represent the track with the technical precision of a surgeon. This remix is full of sound layers padded with a whirlwind of strange and enigmatic sound sources. Dr. Philip Channard stated, “The music represents the mind of Mr. Miller. The music is the driving force that fosters such monstrous behavior he has demonstrated his entire life.” Law enforcement is moving in on the scene that Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, The Blister Exist and Full Contact 69 fueled with the brilliant takes on Mr. Miller. The blood is everywhere, but no Mr. Miller. Forensics discovered several releases from Full Contact 69 available on Discogs and other fine distributors. The Blister Exists has a full length on Electric Tremor and Signal Aout 42 and Plastic Noise Experience have been releasing music for 20 + years! Discover the classics as well some more modern works. The hunt continues. Chapter -7       Random Snake Related Thoughts Remember Mervin Levinson and Steven Gullotta? Both had bad experiences with the European Adder snake. We know Steve and the snake eventually reconciled, but Mervin never quite got over his hatred of snakes. He even went so far as to launch a campaign to destroy all snakes when he created a Facebook page with a lot of classified information snakes never wanted humans to know about them. Rightfully irritated by the acts of Levinson, the snakes convened at a local excavation to discuss the course of actions they would have to take to defend themselves from Levinson and other snake haters like him. Along with new ally Steven Gullotta armed with high-power sound system, he tuned into the ESP station featuring Cardinal Noire’s boiling heavy beats of infernal terror sure to put a scare into the old Levinson fella. Old schoolers, Brigade Werther stopped by with some help from Snake Plisskin. Brigade Werther sounds like they are partially submerged in a vat of snake venom as vocals spill over with plenty of Snake Plisskin samples littered about the track. The deliberately slower beats deliver a freaky sense of excitement for the upcoming battle. Also coming into the scene to help out is the unknown yet very formidable Invoke The Insult with their pipe banging, snake hissing assault on the track “Snake Bite”.  The snakes are smart and know the most powerful snakes dwell in the land of kFactor. Straight out of São Paulo, Brazil, KFactor tears up the phone lines with more “Telephone Terror”. Unlike Astma, kFactor has no issues with answering the phone with his vision of the track. Powerful quirky beats not unlike sounds you will hear on his debut double CD also on Electro Aggression Records invoke a feeling of security for the snakes as kFactor promised to send a legion of his Amazonian reptilian war machines, known locally as Anacondas. The lead Anaconda, Al, whom was also a creative consultant for Capcom in the 90’s for the Mortal Kombat series of video games for the fighter known as Reptile. Al went on to say, “Have you ever played Mortal Kombat? I was the driving force behind The Reptile! Those moves are based on reality!  Aside from a few limbs we Anacondas can seriously kick human ass if need be. Levinson is a joke. He has no chance! What a douche bag! Make sure you purchase kFactor’s ‘Ghastly Monolith’ double CD. It will not disappoint, I promise!” Chapter-8        Retaliation & Suffering, War is Hell  Armageddon Dildos and Serpents revisit the themes of war we heard in the opening chapters of “600 Pounds Of Body’ double CD.  Armageddon Dildos pound the steel like crazed factory worker. The first minute is a repetitive dirge into the mind of a factory worker. Over and over repeating the same tasks. Occasionally, something different comes around to change the mindset for the moment. That moment kicks in about one minute into the remix with a glimmer of AD synthwork giving way to more intense old school beats accompanied by the caustic throaty vocals. The Serpents take another approach to their version of “Unknown Soldier”. We still have the samples, “August 3rd, 1913” & “Dead and Buried” is chanted as the chorus. The music moves more towards what you would except from Serpents as opposed to Astma.  Serpents reinvent “Unknown Soldier” into fast paced electro-industrial wonderland of screaming synths and magic manipulations to the anatomy of the track. The Psychic Force and Autodafeh deliver two killer remixes for the coming of old age track ‘Suffer And Pain”. In the early 90’s, The Psychic Force delivered 2 crushing albums on KM-Musik. After 1994 they were off the grid as far as releasing music. Fortunately their 2 classic albums are reissued in 2015. The airy synths breathe a slightly lighter feel this time around to “Suffer And Pain”. Autodafeh have several albums going back to 2008. Autodafeh with their Front 242-ish approach to music create a nice remix true to the Autodafeh sound we have come to enjoy over the years.   Chapter-9        More Coffee and More Haircuts  Ekobrottsmyndigheten remix “Peculator” with a time stamp of 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The opening sounds tell a tale of some wicked brew in the works with rumbling bubbling sounds and quickly moves into a moderate pace of EBM. The hippies’ hair length may no longer be safe after an overdose of caffeine. Anstalt are tapped for a remix of “Cut It Short”. Anstalt have several cassette releases as well as their ‘Brilliance Without Phase’ CD from 1995. After 1995 there isn’t much until now as only Electro Aggression Records can do, Anstalt return from the dead to remix Astma. Old school rivet head Doug Glasser said, “Man! I forgot all about Anstalt. Where have they been”?  I don’t know the answer, but they do deliver a nice banger of a remix. Octolab retaliate with their take on “Cut It Short”.  It’s a slower beat surrounded with intricate programming that will certainly gain attention from the listener’s ears. After the coffee and the haircuts are complete it is once again time for a little fussball! This is  “A Global Game” as Astma stated earlier. Ondska, another relatively unknown act you may remember their track “Storm” for 2011’s ‘Old School Electrology’ 4CD compilation. Outside of that they are somewhat of a mystery. Ondska keeps the ferocity at maximum levels during this remix.   Chapter – 10              Grand finale With Mr. Miller’s fate all but set, he stops by an abandoned power plant on his way to Japan to make his final preparations. Who knows he may even find a random drifter to disembowel.  Mrdtc runs this old building, primarily for rentals to the film industry. The place is great for the final chase or the showdown scene. Mrdtc have many releases on their own label as well as Emmo.Biz Records. They add their unique sounds to give a less violent and pounding appeal while retaining the old school intensity. DRP enter the scene to school Mr. Miller on his thoughts to relocating to Japan. “Body In Japan” reveals a barrage of beats and another dimension to Astma’s long time classic tune. DRP released their legendary ‘Electro brain 586’ nearly 26 years ago. It is an absolute collector’s item and must have for any serious EBM fan. Hints of the trademark DRP sound can be heard and remind you of classic tracks like “Go Into Ecstasy” and “Enkephalin”. I always enjoyed the way DRP added a little chaos to their tracks, yet everything always seems work perfectly! Mr. Miller is set to leave for Japan. He gets into his Saab and starts to drive away, when he hears sirens closing on his backside. Could it finally be over? Mr. Miller decides to go out in a bang. With his radio turned up and tuned in to ESP radio he hears the track “Dead End” and it’s the remix Pyrroline did that seems to hint his road to Japan is really the road to nowhere. He does have the open highway to drive until bullets or a roadblock eventually stop him. Mr. Miller finds it quite easy to get lost in the calming factors of the programming Pyrroline is known for. Pyrroline create deep layers that integrate your mind into the songs and you become unaware of your surroundings. Check out ‘Ruins Outlast’ from 2013 for a real treat of electro immersion. Mr. Miller has reached speeds beyond his abilities to control. With law enforcement firing their weapons the Saab loses control and rockets off the road into a deeply wooded area. Within minutes the police swarm the area. Minutes turn to hours and there is no sign of Mr. Miller. He has eluded the law again.   Well we have come to the end of the review. ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ and the second disc ‘Asthmatic Percussions and Contagious Basslines’ bring a whole hell of a lot of music to take in. The attention to detail is a trademark for Electro Aggression Records. The handpicked remixers are a common theme in every release. Whether it’s his partnership with minimal electropop label ,Nadanna or his very own Electro Aggression Records, Mr. Ear, Nader Moumneh works magic to seek out the best remixers and even in some cases raising a band from the dead to contribute to one of his releases. Disc one is an all out EBM blitz. From the first track, to track 23 there is no let up. The second disc is more of the same. From Armageddon Dildos, The Psychic Force, DRP, Plastic Noise Experience and Signal Aout 42, many classic acts take part in this Astma document. Along with lesser-known acts like the powerful Full Contact 69, The Blister Exists and Ekobrottsmyndigheten make this a great way to promote newer or unknown acts. Electro Aggression Records almost always cross promote their roster by having them remix each other. Serpents, Astma and kFactor traded remixes amongst each other for these 3 EAR releases. Great job EAR with a wonderful line up of guests to display their talents on ‘Asthmatic Percussions and Contagious Basslines’ remix CD. There is so much material to absorb on these 2 discs that it may take some time to experience it all. Every song rages from start to end. There is a lot to offer from each every one of the 42 tracks. I never had any expectations for a highly diverse release. Astma is an old school EBM influenced band and they do it well.  I absolutely appreciate their sense of humor, which allowed me to have a sense of humor throughout this review. Grab a cup coffee or even a beer and tune into ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ and let it take you for a wild ride with Astma, Mr. Miller and friends!  450
Brutal Resonance

Astma - 600 Pounds Of Body

Introduction

Years have passed since my hopes were at their highest to finally get a full dose of Astma’s Music via any kind of media. The wait is over. ‘600 Pounds Of Body” is now out and ready for action. Outside of some compilation tracks and some YouTube videos, good luck finding anything from this three-piece Swedish EBM militia. Hence why this is a great day for the EBM lovers!

Astma recorded their first track “Lord Of Chaos” back in 2001.  Magnus and Stefan were playing in several bands at the time, with Stroma being the main project. Astma was one of the projects they used when writing old school EBM. By 2004 they more or less abandoned all other projects to focus on Astma. In 2007 they had their first gig in Germany and asked Robert to join the band full time. Astma usually plays only a few gigs a year with their next scheduled for Liviv, Ukraine later this month.

Astma draws a strong influence from the Old School. Bands like Swedish legends Pouppee Fabrikk and Controlled Analogue Programming harness the same type of aggression that Astma displays in each and every song. Old School EBM has its staples like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Nitzer Ebb. Astma take elements from the style and blend more modern influences while still retaining the Old School sound.

As we look over the double CD featuring 3 pairs of boots as the focal point of the artwork one could assume, based on Astma’s sense of humor that each member averages about 200 pounds in weight. We also know most of the 42 songs on the double album clock in under 3 minutes long. At the top left corner of the front cover Astma snuck in a tribute to Front 242 (2CDs 42 tracks).  Chris Lewis of Red +Test did the artwork while label mate Arnte of Pyrroline and Norschlacht fame mastered all 42 tracks.

This is the first volume of the EBM Trilogy featuring Astma. Volume 2 will feature K Factor and Volume 3 unleashes the Serpents.

 

Chapter – 1     Telephones & Coffee

"Telephone Terror" serves as the opener for disc 1 of '600 Pounds of Body'. Astma introduces us to their terrifying fears of answering the telephone. It rings, but no one will answer the phone. What if it's a large festival promoter calling to book Astma? Maybe it's a bloodthirsty telemarketer hell-bent on selling you a magazine subscription? Ring, ring , ring, Come on guys, and answer that annoying phone! With samples of various familiar phone related sounds set to muscular big time beats, we are treated to glimpse inside the world of telephone phobia. Bad news? Good News? Fear of being judged by others are just some of  the thoughts eating away at the minds of the afflicted. Perhaps one late night the phone rings and there is no answer. It happens again and again until paranoia completely takes control. The theme reminds me of the classic 1964 Twilight Zone episode "Night Call" where an elderly woman receives mysterious phone calls one stormy night. The origin of the phone calls is traced to a fallen wire that was resting on the grave of her deceased fiancé. Ultimately, I think the phone just rings at inconvenient times.

Do Astma members drink too much coffee? Do they stay up too late worrying about telephones and hippies? Well, the track "Perculator" brews up some fun yet powerful waves of murderous caffeine- induced rhythms set to the extreme need to saturate one's body with excessive amounts of coffee.  Based on my coffee bean research, it would appear based on the aggression of the music and the layout of the composition; the coffee would need to be of high quality, perhaps something out of the Costa Rican regions of Tarrazu, Tres Rios or the West Valley. I would personally recommend the brand Coope Victoria. Beans from these areas are typically resistant leaf rust and the stem boring pests known as Xylutrechus Quadripes.  This rich blend is a perfect complement to writing fat basslines and stomping beats with all other concerns set aside. Drink up!

Hippy guys, hippy guys, let's talk about those hippies I mentioned above. Imagine chasing around some longhaired fellows with your finest line of Kamisori shears. Of course only the best shears should be used to make your point regarding one's hair length. "Cut It Short" is a playful marketing blitz for those hairy peace pushing peeps known as hippies to reduce their hair length to above the shoulders. Astma uses this song to point out that hippies are the opposite of the EBM stomper. Astma has nothing against hippies. The band even stated they dig Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Doors. The band also stated, without feeling a need to reach for a pair of scissors they can enjoy having some beers with the longhaired folk. Grab a brew and check out the animated You Tube video for "Cut It Short".

"Suffer And Pain" hides nothing when it comes to depression and apathy. Depression affects millions of people worldwide. People cope with it in many ways, some more self-destructive than others. Prescription drugs such as Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac are common methods of combating depression. Unfortunately others reach for illegal drugs or alcohol, and some choose isolation. Raw vocals and hulking beats rip through belly of the song revealing the horrors of being alone and having one's cries for help go unanswered.

 

Chapter – 2     War

 
Like a rolling fog, the thumping bassline creeps over an excerpt from what appears to be a sample from a World War 1 documentary. We all know many soldiers never returned from the battlefields. "Unknown Soldier" seems address that very theme. The lyrics repeat the lines "Dead and Buried" and "No one knows his name" as well as, "August 3, 1917".  That is the date Germany declared war on France. The French losses were high compared to other countries.  All the training in the world is not always enough to ensure survival. The vocals vary from the throaty CAP-like to a slightly higher pitch giving another dimension to this powerful track. Oddly enough, out of coincidence, this part of the review was written on August 3rd. Whoa!
The bass keeps pounding the message home about war. "No Surrender".  As the enemy approaches there is no retreat. The chanted chorus "No retreat, no surrender!" make this a no-brainer for a sing along.

Enter "449 Metal Bullets" made famous by the 'Hymns of Steel' compilation back in 2006. This was huge dose of old school EBM influenced artists such as C.A.P, Ionic Vision, Militant Cheerleaders on the Move, Volt and Jager 90.  Nearly every track on this compilation is top-notch EBM power. Astma's "449 Metal Bullets" remained in constant rotation ever since. The energy and sheer desire to completely take over the compilation was evident here. It was unmatched. Now, 9 years later an exceptional new version recorded in 2008 appears on this monstrous document of Astma's existence.  There is no let down of the sheer force that made "449 Metal Bullets" such a staple in many playlists. This is truly a Hymn of steel!

In the factory (also known as the "Power Plant") we earn a salary. "Nuclear energy" is shouted at the end of the song revealing the type of power plant.  It all starts in the factory. Workers arrive each and every day.  They punch the clock and produce what the work orders state. The politicians lay the groundwork and factory workers bring those plans to life. All of these late hours at the factory begin to take their toll on the body. You realize you are now old and your knees ache and the mind is breaking down. This is "Human Decay". Hopefully our workers have a nice pension to help with retirement. As the chorus repeatedly shouts "Human Decay" to a pummeling beat that vibrates your cartilage and forces your body into submission. This is the EBM version of a Web MD diagnosis on aging.

As the years roll by with a life so consumed with work and other things, we have this life defining moment of clarity. This moment reveals we never made time for the little things. Life passed us by and there is no time left to go back. It reminds me of something my good friend Bob told me. We should make time to see and be with our loved ones.  Family gatherings around holiday times are ever changing with new additions and empty spaces for those we lost. I have since made extra efforts to do just that. I love playing with my daughter even when I am drop dead tired. Soon she'll have other interests and those silly little games she likes to play will eventually fade away to other endeavors. Of course, Astma' s take on this is set to some extreme boot thumping thrusts with dose of tormented reflections focused on the past.

 

Chapter – 3     Things are getting a little creepy

People say and do a variety of things that can be construed as creepy and/or inappropriate depending on the context of the moment. It could be as simple as a comment taken the wrong way or someone consistently trying to make contact with you through conversation or as deranged as a person walking through heavily crowded areas such as subways, concerts or sporting events just to get off on rubbing against people. Yeah, people actually do it. I read it on the internets! "Stalking You" takes it to the next level of watching your object of desire through the windows, following the suitor to work or wherever they go. It's the next stage in creepiness. Astma keeps the beat aggressive to compliment the nature of the subject matter. If all of this isn't making you feel like your epidermis is squirming like a patient afflicted with Ekbom's Syndrome, perhaps being the star of a snuff film is all you need to fill in the gaps of all your uncertainty. "Director's Cut" is the movie you never want to see. It will never be on TV and you are the star.

Perhaps when all the stalking is over and snuff film has made its rounds and has been seen by the elite psychopaths who enjoy such things, it's time for some more depraved enjoyment. Enter Mr. Miller! Mr. Miller is a self-proclaimed serial killer psychopath capable of many inhumane acts toward living creatures such as humans. "Mr. Miller" was recorded back in 2007 as tribute to horror movies. There are plenty serial killers in the movies and on television. Who is your favorite? For me it's the cadaver creating master of murder, Mr. Motherf**king Miller! Throughout the track every beat creates an image of arm rising to bring down a painful depth charge to his flesh-covered blood-soaked canvas. 

Chapter-4        Parking in Sweden for Tourists and Locals

I have been thinking about taking a nice trip to visit Sweden. Outside of some websites and magazine articles, I know very little on how to prepare for a stay in Sweden.  I am relying solely on Astma to help me prepare my possible trip. I picked up their '600 Pounds of Body' knowing there is a lot of information regarding Sweden from the view point of three standup gentlemen that actually live there.

Although I am not planning to rent a car, based on information obtained from '600 Pounds of Body', the evil parking maids can be a complete nightmare with their pencils and sheets patrolling the streets. 700Kr is a steep fee for a poorly parked vehicle.

As for the climate in Sweden, the temperatures are influenced by the countless lakes and of course the Gulf Stream. In the winter you can expect flight delays, black ice, snow, power outages, stiff limbs and complete numbness.

Saying that they don't want the perfect opportunity to pass by, the EBM terrorians, Robert, Magnus and Stefan were quoted in GQ Magazine with regards to their last shouting session with the season saying, "Screw You Summer!" as well as "You are not welcome!”  Octogenarian and avid traveller, Mervin Levinson from New Jersey was quoted as saying "summer in Sweden is alright, but what's the deal with all the freakin' snakes? The last time I was there, a European Adder sunk its fangs into my left leg and I hallucinated for hours in writhing agony until finally being treated at a local clinic. Who the hell expects to be bitten by a snake in Sweden of all places! Fuck that!” Pennsylvania man, Steven Gullotta stated a snake in Sweden once attacked him during his study abroad days. He quite elegantly said “ I got bit by a fucking snake so I bit it back”. Both the snake a Steven has since made amends and lives close due to job relocations. The two are often seen in downtown Philadelphia having a brew or catching a Phillies game.

Astma had thoughts of writing more songs to include their hate for not only summer and winter, but to include Spring and Fall as well. They decided to write a happier song about "A Global Game" known as futbol or fusssball. Everyone in Sweden probably enjoys a good game of futbol or fussball.  ABC reporter, Pilar Jacobs caught up with one many fans of the global game asking for their thoughts on the game. Area man, Bard Eilhard whom simply replied, "fussball, fussball fussball".

We learned a lot through Astma's lyrics. Perhaps travel advice from Astma may not be the best course of action.

"Winter Hate", "Summer Plague", "Evil Bitches" & "Snake Bite" all feed the fires of Astma's sense of humor. One testimonial states, "The dudes just pummel you with an intense onslaught of ferocious beats and napalm guzzling vocals no matter what the topic is. The song lyrics could be about lovable baby owls or even puppies, but the music and vocals will tell a tale of bestial invasion and corporeal evisceration". – Mike Pierzynski, Parsippany, NJ.

Chapter -5       On the road with Mr. Miller

With cops on to Mr. Miller's quest to murder the world, he must decide where to escape to so he can start over and continue take human life. As he drives he thinks he hears a voice say "Where Are You"? He drives for hours through the vast highways of Sweden he tunes in the ESP radio for some positive vibes while plots he his escape.  Again he hears "Where Are You"? He ignores it only to recognize it as yet another Astma track on ESP radio. Bobbing his head to the beat "Where Are You" stands out as one a few tracks where the vocals are bit tamer. He keeps on his course to nowhere that most-likely ends in damnation. Mr. Miller always dreamed of going to Japan ever since heard "Body in Japan" by Astma. The song mentioned everything about Japan from Kawasaki to sake. It was the band's tribute to a culture they adore. Mr. Miller recalls in past interview he did for Serial Killer Weekly, "I love trying to hear every lyric over the booming electronics. In turn I actually learned some cool words." Lucky for Mr. Miller he knows Japan is a short drive from Sweden.  During his journey in his 2003 Saab 9-5, ESP radio is playing Astma's "Dead End". He totally digs the Front 242 feel not only in music but the vocals as well. This track was featured on the Sham Recordings 2007 vinyl 7" compilation 'Swedish Old School EBM'.  With cleaner vocals and a slower beat this is a great tune to drive to.  A sense of purpose and relaxation consumes Mr. Miller. In a 2007 interview with the trashy Serial Killer magazine – Shredding Drifter Quarterly, he stated, "Dead End is a wonderful song. It clearly shows another side to Astma's music. Whenever I hear it, I think about old man Henson. Yeah Hank I believe was his name. I had him laid out on my kill table with railroad spikes driven into each of his hands and I used a neon green children's jump rope to secure his body while marinating his feet in teriyaki sauce in another room. I remember pulling out his esophagus with homemade fishhook and plastic spork. I'll never forget the WTF look in eyes. It was great day". "Dead End" also hints to a possible outcome of Mr. Miller's escape plan. Unaware due to the sheer intensity of the situation with law enforcement hot on his tail, Mr. Miller truly believes there is a road that connects Sweden and Japan. This road will lead to nowhere. Stay tuned for more details.

 

Chapter – 6     The Many Faces Of Mr. Miller

By now we know Mr. Miller is a very dangerous man. He becomes even more dangerous when he falls under the influences of Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, The Blister Exists and Full Contact 69. Signal Aout 42 kicks off their rendition with a familiar SA 42 electro assault in the introduction stage to the track with tweaks in the DNA of the music throughout, will easily tip off die-hard fans of who the remixer is. The Mighty Signal Aout 42, a personal favorite of mine! If you haven’t heard of Signal Aout 42 you are missing a lot of what made Belgium the hub of some of the best music of the 80’s and 90’s. Next up Mr. Miller gets a facelift from Plastic Noise Experience. He will need to disguise himself if he wants to continue to pillage humanity with his homicidal ways. PNE dazzles us with some killer synthwork set to a faster pace that may induce cultish dance rituals similar to what Mr. Miller was known to do in some of his desert kills in the late 80’s. The reign of terror continues when The Blister Exists agitates Mr. Miller to the point of no return. A killing frenzy of metal riffs and twisted musical manipulations bring a sense of the terrifying things to come. This is the killing storm in full force. Blood is everywhere!!!! Full Contact 69 helps Mr. Miller decide what macabre act he will perform next. Full Contact 69 represent the track with the technical precision of a surgeon. This remix is full of sound layers padded with a whirlwind of strange and enigmatic sound sources. Dr. Philip Channard stated, “The music represents the mind of Mr. Miller. The music is the driving force that fosters such monstrous behavior he has demonstrated his entire life.” Law enforcement is moving in on the scene that Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, The Blister Exist and Full Contact 69 fueled with the brilliant takes on Mr. Miller. The blood is everywhere, but no Mr. Miller. Forensics discovered several releases from Full Contact 69 available on Discogs and other fine distributors. The Blister Exists has a full length on Electric Tremor and Signal Aout 42 and Plastic Noise Experience have been releasing music for 20 + years! Discover the classics as well some more modern works. The hunt continues.

Chapter -7       Random Snake Related Thoughts

Remember Mervin Levinson and Steven Gullotta? Both had bad experiences with the European Adder snake. We know Steve and the snake eventually reconciled, but Mervin never quite got over his hatred of snakes. He even went so far as to launch a campaign to destroy all snakes when he created a Facebook page with a lot of classified information snakes never wanted humans to know about them. Rightfully irritated by the acts of Levinson, the snakes convened at a local excavation to discuss the course of actions they would have to take to defend themselves from Levinson and other snake haters like him. Along with new ally Steven Gullotta armed with high-power sound system, he tuned into the ESP station featuring Cardinal Noire’s boiling heavy beats of infernal terror sure to put a scare into the old Levinson fella. Old schoolers, Brigade Werther stopped by with some help from Snake Plisskin. Brigade Werther sounds like they are partially submerged in a vat of snake venom as vocals spill over with plenty of Snake Plisskin samples littered about the track. The deliberately slower beats deliver a freaky sense of excitement for the upcoming battle. Also coming into the scene to help out is the unknown yet very formidable Invoke The Insult with their pipe banging, snake hissing assault on the track “Snake Bite”.  The snakes are smart and know the most powerful snakes dwell in the land of kFactor. Straight out of São Paulo, Brazil, KFactor tears up the phone lines with more “Telephone Terror”. Unlike Astma, kFactor has no issues with answering the phone with his vision of the track. Powerful quirky beats not unlike sounds you will hear on his debut double CD also on Electro Aggression Records invoke a feeling of security for the snakes as kFactor promised to send a legion of his Amazonian reptilian war machines, known locally as Anacondas. The lead Anaconda, Al, whom was also a creative consultant for Capcom in the 90’s for the Mortal Kombat series of video games for the fighter known as Reptile. Al went on to say, “Have you ever played Mortal Kombat? I was the driving force behind The Reptile! Those moves are based on reality!  Aside from a few limbs we Anacondas can seriously kick human ass if need be. Levinson is a joke. He has no chance! What a douche bag! Make sure you purchase kFactor’s ‘Ghastly Monolith’ double CD. It will not disappoint, I promise!”

Chapter-8        Retaliation & Suffering, War is Hell

 
Armageddon Dildos and Serpents revisit the themes of war we heard in the opening chapters of “600 Pounds Of Body’ double CD.  Armageddon Dildos pound the steel like crazed factory worker. The first minute is a repetitive dirge into the mind of a factory worker. Over and over repeating the same tasks. Occasionally, something different comes around to change the mindset for the moment. That moment kicks in about one minute into the remix with a glimmer of AD synthwork giving way to more intense old school beats accompanied by the caustic throaty vocals. The Serpents take another approach to their version of “Unknown Soldier”. We still have the samples, “August 3rd, 1913” & “Dead and Buried” is chanted as the chorus. The music moves more towards what you would except from Serpents as opposed to Astma.  Serpents reinvent “Unknown Soldier” into fast paced electro-industrial wonderland of screaming synths and magic manipulations to the anatomy of the track.
The Psychic Force and Autodafeh deliver two killer remixes for the coming of old age track ‘Suffer And Pain”. In the early 90’s, The Psychic Force delivered 2 crushing albums on KM-Musik. After 1994 they were off the grid as far as releasing music. Fortunately their 2 classic albums are reissued in 2015. The airy synths breathe a slightly lighter feel this time around to “Suffer And Pain”. Autodafeh have several albums going back to 2008. Autodafeh with their Front 242-ish approach to music create a nice remix true to the Autodafeh sound we have come to enjoy over the years.

 

Chapter-9        More Coffee and More Haircuts

 
Ekobrottsmyndigheten remix “Peculator” with a time stamp of 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The opening sounds tell a tale of some wicked brew in the works with rumbling bubbling sounds and quickly moves into a moderate pace of EBM. The hippies’ hair length may no longer be safe after an overdose of caffeine. Anstalt are tapped for a remix of “Cut It Short”. Anstalt have several cassette releases as well as their ‘Brilliance Without Phase’ CD from 1995. After 1995 there isn’t much until now as only Electro Aggression Records can do, Anstalt return from the dead to remix Astma. Old school rivet head Doug Glasser said, “Man! I forgot all about Anstalt. Where have they been”?  I don’t know the answer, but they do deliver a nice banger of a remix. Octolab retaliate with their take on “Cut It Short”.  It’s a slower beat surrounded with intricate programming that will certainly gain attention from the listener’s ears. After the coffee and the haircuts are complete it is once again time for a little fussball! This is  “A Global Game” as Astma stated earlier. Ondska, another relatively unknown act you may remember their track “Storm” for 2011’s ‘Old School Electrology’ 4CD compilation. Outside of that they are somewhat of a mystery. Ondska keeps the ferocity at maximum levels during this remix.
 

Chapter – 10              Grand finale

With Mr. Miller’s fate all but set, he stops by an abandoned power plant on his way to Japan to make his final preparations. Who knows he may even find a random drifter to disembowel.  Mrdtc runs this old building, primarily for rentals to the film industry. The place is great for the final chase or the showdown scene. Mrdtc have many releases on their own label as well as Emmo.Biz Records. They add their unique sounds to give a less violent and pounding appeal while retaining the old school intensity. DRP enter the scene to school Mr. Miller on his thoughts to relocating to Japan. “Body In Japan” reveals a barrage of beats and another dimension to Astma’s long time classic tune. DRP released their legendary ‘Electro brain 586’ nearly 26 years ago. It is an absolute collector’s item and must have for any serious EBM fan. Hints of the trademark DRP sound can be heard and remind you of classic tracks like “Go Into Ecstasy” and “Enkephalin”. I always enjoyed the way DRP added a little chaos to their tracks, yet everything always seems work perfectly! Mr. Miller is set to leave for Japan. He gets into his Saab and starts to drive away, when he hears sirens closing on his backside. Could it finally be over? Mr. Miller decides to go out in a bang. With his radio turned up and tuned in to ESP radio he hears the track “Dead End” and it’s the remix Pyrroline did that seems to hint his road to Japan is really the road to nowhere. He does have the open highway to drive until bullets or a roadblock eventually stop him. Mr. Miller finds it quite easy to get lost in the calming factors of the programming Pyrroline is known for. Pyrroline create deep layers that integrate your mind into the songs and you become unaware of your surroundings. Check out ‘Ruins Outlast’ from 2013 for a real treat of electro immersion. Mr. Miller has reached speeds beyond his abilities to control. With law enforcement firing their weapons the Saab loses control and rockets off the road into a deeply wooded area. Within minutes the police swarm the area. Minutes turn to hours and there is no sign of Mr. Miller. He has eluded the law again.

 

Well we have come to the end of the review. ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ and the second disc ‘Asthmatic Percussions and Contagious Basslines’ bring a whole hell of a lot of music to take in. The attention to detail is a trademark for Electro Aggression Records. The handpicked remixers are a common theme in every release. Whether it’s his partnership with minimal electropop label ,Nadanna or his very own Electro Aggression Records, Mr. Ear, Nader Moumneh works magic to seek out the best remixers and even in some cases raising a band from the dead to contribute to one of his releases.

Disc one is an all out EBM blitz. From the first track, to track 23 there is no let up. The second disc is more of the same. From Armageddon Dildos, The Psychic Force, DRP, Plastic Noise Experience and Signal Aout 42, many classic acts take part in this Astma document. Along with lesser-known acts like the powerful Full Contact 69, The Blister Exists and Ekobrottsmyndigheten make this a great way to promote newer or unknown acts. Electro Aggression Records almost always cross promote their roster by having them remix each other. Serpents, Astma and kFactor traded remixes amongst each other for these 3 EAR releases. Great job EAR with a wonderful line up of guests to display their talents on ‘Asthmatic Percussions and Contagious Basslines’ remix CD. There is so much material to absorb on these 2 discs that it may take some time to experience it all. Every song rages from start to end. There is a lot to offer from each every one of the 42 tracks. I never had any expectations for a highly diverse release. Astma is an old school EBM influenced band and they do it well.  I absolutely appreciate their sense of humor, which allowed me to have a sense of humor throughout this review.
Grab a cup coffee or even a beer and tune into ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ and let it take you for a wild ride with Astma, Mr. Miller and friends! 







Aug 12 2015

Luke Jacobs

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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