Hocico are a Mexican Aggro-Tech duo who have been at it for almost twenty five years now. It was their fifth album "Memorias Atras" released in 2008 that caught my attention. Its one of those "go to" records when in the mood for dark and moody aggressive electronics. Its fully of catchy melodies and pummeling Industrial EDM grooves. Unfortunately it has served as the summit of their success as the band have somewhat stagnated on the same ideas and aesthetics that peaked with that album. Each release since has been more of the same, my interest in their music dulling significantly. "Spider Bites" might be the last time I check in with the group. Its an EP that weighs in at thirty one minutes, not too short of full length but its track arrangement shows two halves that don't make a whole.
Opening with "No One Gets Out Alive" we are thrusted into grip of the harsh and thudding tempo of a linear snare kick drive that incessantly thumps away as jagged synths and layers of flashing buzz saws conjure a menacing setting for distorted, twisted screams to drive home the theme in the songs name. Its an atypical rigid composition where all the instruments are instant on the attack and fall to silence swiftly as the pair so typically compose with a digital mindset of on or off with no room for subtlety. "I Abomination" is another dark banger that's far more appealing. It has depth and texture in the instrumental, dropping the fast choppy melodies for drawn out textural waves that conjure an atmosphere perfect for the main melody and hook to drop in with a classic Prodigy like vibe. "All Beauty Is Lost" is the third of these straightforward clubbing tracks however its toned down resulting in a lot of atmosphere for piano melodies and slower string like synths to create a more inviting enviroment. At nine minutes its no progressive epic, after playing through its motions the pianos are given center stage to go solo and lead back into the same loop, resulting in a needlessly long song but one that's endurable given its calmer tone and interesting piano compositions.
The other three songs represent the between moments that would break up the intensity of back to back club tracks on a full length. "Conjuro" is a noise driven Industrial atmospheric track in which the distorted, reverb soaked vocals take center stage. It sometimes sounds as if key instruments and drums have been removed from what might of been a fully fledged song. "The Secret Window" is the records best moment, an interlude for the groups softer synth sounds to orchestrate a sense of mystery and wonder within a short space as its lead alluring melody plays over and over, deep echoing kicks and whiffs of synths pass it by as the underlying buzz saw slowly intensifies and guides it through the abyss to find conclusion in a break beat. The last track starts out somewhat similar although it detours as a rumbling Industrial base line go up against a slow expansive drum groove while more mysterious melodies play out.
For me this record isn't cohesive, its a collection of ideas of which some are actually quite impressive individually, together they have little direction or consistency. There is no doubting that Hocico are a talented duo with a unique sound however a lack of theme or vision means each song feels isolated. Just as one pulls you in the next will break the spell and move elsewhere. Its bitter sweet, disappointing but there are at least a couple of tracks worth coming back to from time to time.
Favorite Tracks: I Abomination, The Secret Window