Back in the early 90s I was kind of isolated, walled in by the twin guard dogs of little if any money and pernicious mental health issues. Whilst I maintained a toe hold in my constant metal world, for reasons I don’t fully recall electronic music began to blip and bleep at the peripheries. Front 242, KMFDM, Frontline Assembly, Excessive Force…along with bedfellows Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. I think somehow it sounded insular and reflected my increasing alienation trapped in a bedsit, lost in modern urban cityscape…

Fast forward to this. Hocico are a Mexican band of over twenty five years standing and so of course this is the first time I’ve heard them. But from the fluttering, bubbling electronic notes of ‘Dark Sunday’ I’m back there in that crushing world but the landscape is more modern. It’s glittering darkly, LEDs blink and the harsh edged vocals half whisper it’s four a.m. and I’m ready to kill…

We get the quick beat melody of old VNV Nation and the insistent air of impending totalitarian nightmares of Frontline Assembly in the hard beat and the vocals. It spreads out, slowly and quietly through ‘El Ballet Mecanico’; a strangely bleak but pretty music box melody awash with something akin to the Blade Runner soundtrack in a waltz with old Nine Inch Nails. It may be nothing new but what it is, is breathtakingly atmospheric and affecting.

The title track is a thumping, throbbing unforgiving swell of destruction dance music. The melody raises it to a celebration of the conflagration in the furnace of the machines. ‘Blinded Race’ has a Vangelis on serious downers vibe, ‘Shut Me Down!’ a rivet-head down stomp into some nihilistic dance and ‘Psychonaut’ has a serious Excessive Force subroutine twisting around a little hypnotic beat and a narcotic melody – it drums and pulses its way into your mind and body and you can see the strobe lighting flashing inside your skull.

After that trip, ‘Damaged’ seems to slide a little; odd as it seems harsher than the preceding tracks. ‘Breathing Under Your Feet’ is a slow stalking hybrid of EBM and darkwave that old Type O Negative bleakness ‘Suspended In Dusk’ and an unsettling breather before ‘Cross The Line’ begins to needle at you in a little more successfully than ‘Damaged’ did.

‘Palabras De Sangre’ loses me somewhere, perhaps the length of the album finally lapping against overload. ‘Quiet Zone (In Silence)’ however crossing that darkwave border is a haunting closer. A proper chill out

It’s a fine album I have to say. Adept, hard beating EBM whilst retaining that anger and nihilism that fuels the music so well. Probably not one to buy if this isn’t your first dip into the genre, but well worth it if any of the names above resonate with you already.

(7.5/10 Gizmo)