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Compelling yet merciless, dark and powerful - 82%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 13th, 2007

The start of this album is enough to put off all but the very brave and foolhardy: an ear-splitting chainsaw squeal cleaves through the air and your senses and plunges straight into a mini-horror movie soundtrack of fast squiggling guitar runs leading into a woman's death scream and finishes with a group of children calmly chanting a hymn. What a way to go! From then on, it's a fast and furious ride with blastbeat percussion, guitar shredding of a maniacal kind, equally demented chiming synthesisers and screams alternating with deep drunken growls.

A fairly early stand-out track is "Beton#1" which begins with swooping synth tones and mechanical drumming and riffing before dropping into a mid-paced passage with slashing guitar tones, a machine gun beat and fragile drunken vocals. This is followed by the swirling psychedelic-sounding track "Burning In My Own Dream Of Life": the rich organ-like sound of the guitars (or they could be synths) gives the track an unhealthy delirious ambience while the speed switches from slow and unsteady to fast and chaotic.At this point the song starts careening all over the joint in danger of crashing into an almighty mess. Subsequent tracks continue with the complex layered sound switching between shots of blastbeat percussion and doomy beats, and the guitars follow likewise, at once speedy and vibrato, and then deep and cutting.

The music continues to descend into a never-ending abyss of darkness and chaos which is intended to represent the downward psychological and physical spiral of a drug addict. Natural drumming and a drum machine alike compete for attention and because the guitars and keyboards play note for note together, it is difficult to tell these apart as well as the drummer and the drum machine apart. The effect is to emphasise this nightmare world that is "Cocaine" and to pull in the listener so you have to suffer the same agonies as the addict without any hope of help, therapy or other salvation. The rich chiming sound of the keyboards has a nauseous effect and makes it impossible for you to get a grip on your mind and your will and wrench yourself away from the maelstrom.

The final track which has the same name as the band itself is a strange and puzzling if bleak culmination of all that has gone on previously: the slow, solemn and sometimes thunderous music suggests a kind of existentialist limbo for the addict which then collapses into blank silence (the moment of death or of truth?) only to expand into a deranged 1970s Euro disco workout complete with high-pitched analogue synth melodies (this would be the ghost track "Cocaine"). Is this some kind of mischievous comment on what hellish music may greet the addict at the point of no return? There's a brief pause for a whispered incantation and it's off again into frenzied synth squiggles which eventually transform into monstrous industrial metal machine beats, huge grinding guitar and snarling vocals.

"Cocaine" is a very confounding album with very powerful music at times and which goes completely, maybe even wilfully, against expectations. I'm not too sure myself about the final track, it is definitely a pivotal track, but the styles of music featured seem rather dated (to me anyway) and even a bit comical. There may very well be intended humour here. There is not much atmosphere in this piece that would bring out the fear or awe or other feelings of the addict undergoing annihilation. Apart from my reservations, this is a compelling recording that, once you start listening past its first screech, grabs and, holding you against your will, mercilessly subjects you to the pain, anguish and darkness of the human subconscious in thrall to addiction or obsession.