Cocaine Piss – Passionate And Tragic

Stereotypes are such a crass and ugly thing. Used as a lazy and offensive descriptor of someone’s personality due to their nationality, they are something that should be abolished. The stereotypical view of Belgium and its people is one of being reserved and downright boring. How better to dispel that myth that with some high-velocity anarcho-Punk? Enter Cocaine Piss.

From the opening notes of ‘Sociopathic Friend’ the band waste no time in establishing their off-kilter, high-speed brand of noisy Punk Rock. The song rattles through riffs that could come from early Hardcore releases – think Bad Brains or Minor Threat – interwoven with byzantine and atonal motifs that hark to the Dead Kennedys’ brand of atypical Punk. The driving, distorted bass, particularly on ‘Eat The Rich’, keeps things at a hammering and satisfyingly speedy pace throughout the album.

There’s no fat around the edges of this lean slab of Punk. Every song, bar ‘Body Euphoria’, falls well below the three-minute mark, some barely reaching two minutes in length. There’s no onanistic mucking around on the album, but this also means there is little room for sonic experimentation. ‘Every Night I’m Waiting’ toys with squalling feedback and heavy effects to create a distinct landscape, but it’s the only moment of the album that feels particularly different.

For those wanting a straight ahead, Punk album, Passionate And Tragic (Hypertension Records) will certainly be a satisfactory listen, but those who like their Noise Punk more artistically deft and challenging may finish the album feeling disappointed.

Vocally the album is certainly surprising. Where there could have simply been masculine snarling and bravado, there is instead a squealing, dissonant Jello Biafra style yelping. It is undeniably intriguing, and catches you off guard as the first lines slam through your speakers, but does take time for adjustment. If you are able to get on board you will find a unique charm to the high-pitched delivery, but for many, it will be nails down a chalkboard.

The album sounds every bit as Punk as its ethos demands. Having been recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, it’s no surprise that the sound is lo-fi and scabrous, with a rawness that accentuates the fury Cocaine Piss harbour. There’s a dirtiness to the likes of ‘Poor Decisions’ and ‘Dry Mouth’ that works wonders to make the songs feel authentically old school and genuine in their delivery. There is no pretence to the furious punk credentials, as the screaming of ‘My Cake’ will attest to.

Passionate And Tragic is a perfectly perfunctory Punk piece. Screeching guitars and vocals alike have a dissonance to them that calls to mind the sterling work of the Dead Kennedys, while the driving bass and drums provide an almost Sonic Youth backbone. The album doesn’t foray into particularly wild territories remaining a straight-ahead punk album that is reminiscent of both early Hardcore releases and mid-seventies UK Punk, and that’s all it wants to be. There is no need for frenzied experimentation in an album like this, but this lacking quality is a limiting factor. The album hints at greatness for the noisy brawlers, but falls just short of being something inspiring.

6 / 10