Hocico is a name inevitably linked to early 2000’s harsh EBM/hellektro scene, despite their story has started years before in a different scenario .
In 1992 Mexican cousins Erik Garcia (Erk Aicrag) and Oscar Mayorga (Racso Agroyam) decided to start making electro-industrial music as a duo called Hocico de Perro, following their previous experience in the band Niñera Degenerada. In 1993 the name became just Hocico and shortly after they started releasing raw cassette demos informed by Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Leatherstrip, yelworC as well as hardcore punk and even extreme metal.
Their brutal and furious style quite matched the violent lyrics about crime, sex, murder, hate inspired by life in Mexico City. Their first album “Odio Bajo El Alma” was well received, but they made a huge impact on European scene starting with their sophomore record “Sangre Hirviente” and especially the third album “Signos De Aberracion”, where they style began co-opting hard dance elements as the rest of the so-called cybergoth scene.
Time passed, and while maintaining most of the time a better grasp of songwriting and general skills than most acts in the genre (especially during their live sets) what once was youthful fury became a club-minded formula with less and less of a real punch.
In recent years the duo has tried updating their formula with some twists and different influences coming from drum ‘n’ bass, dark techno and breakbeat, but both their production and delivery have been sounding too polished and on auto-pilot for awhile, especially Erk’s voice (what once was a spiteful and coarse screaming with some growls, became buried in filters and studio effects) and Racso’s by-the-number synth and basslines.
Now they return with the maxi-single “Broken Empires/Lost World”, a 5-track work figuring as a welcome surprise. While not changing their game and turning time back, this output offers two new tracks regaining some of their old spirit in a mid-tempo style with a darker and deeper atmosphere with more of a “mature” approach. Even Erk’s vocals sound more genuine and aggressive than they have been sounding in years. This time even the remixes are not just fillers and offer interesting takes on the main theme of “Broken Empires”.
The radio-edit of the track employs an eerie and moody synth work with an oldschool feeling and cinematic parts. Stomping kicks, steady snare-drums and raunchy vocals move amidst piano notes and cutting refrains reaching a convincing climax. The longer extended version adds some well placed new sounds concurring to a more complex structure and some longer bridges with sharp undertones.
The second track “Lost World” offers a faster affair recalling their early 2000’s sound via distorted vocals and kicks underlined by some hard-trance elements while maintaining a certain sense of urgency and constant assault with a “hardcore punk” edge.
About the remixes: the “Hell Club Hocico version” sounds better than the campy name would suggest, focusing on the rhythmic pattern and minimal keys. It seems Hocico have been paying attention to what is happening around them in Europe and Germany (where they have been living for some years now). The remix from darksynth/synthwave project Chaos Vector enriches the cinematic aspects of the track and update it under the lenses of the aforementioned genre with some interesting and melancholic synth refrains.
All in all, if you could never stand Hocico this work won’t change your mind for sure. Here they deliver what they have always been known for, but in a better way they have done in years. Way closer to dark electro/electro-industrial than mindless hellektro without totally forfeiting the club elements, they even manage to take a clue or two from the techno industrial scene and the darksynth genre. While modern and for sure polished, the production doesn’t detract from the dark and aggressive nature of the track, and finally it seems the singer has found a way to accept his aging voice adapting it to the music without relaying too much on excessive distortions and filters. Let’s hope this is an indication of what will come with their future efforts.
Release date: July 2nd, 2021.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo.