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Atropine – Recurring Nightmares | Review by Chain D.L.K.

With a fair look back on Norway’s Electro/Industrial scene two decades before there we had Apoptygma Berzerk with the earliest releases, Angst Pop, Remyl and the 7-members collective Anstalt with their uncountable side-projects (Industrial Heads, Defcon 4, Teutonic Knights, etc.). The duo of Atropine consists of ALX and Cthulberg and has been a companion project to Anstalt. Already established in those heydays, but mostly they’ve been well hidden under the radar of the international-based audience. Both members have been more or less involved in Anstalt, but unfortunately never been that prominent. Too bad also that Atropine couldn’t enter a slot on the legendary “Sex, Drugs and EBM” compilation of the Norwegian Tatra Records label in 1993.

So after a few tape releases and two self-released CDR’s mostly reserved to their local audience, there has been silence in the Atropine-camp for nearly 14 years. Musically this duo rather represents the darker and more aggressive side of the EBM/Electro/Industrial genre, although they still try to integrate some cold-melodic synth-pads. They actually seem to think about the course of action in the EBM genre lately and with their understanding they are able to offer us a diverse sounding official debut album, now newly signed and released by the Italian EK Product label. The connection of this Norwegian duo to the Italian-based label fits pretty well not only because of their veteran status. Atropine are true kids of the so-called second EBM wave and so they are acting. If it needs to throw some prominent names for comparison sakes into the ring, I would name early X Marks The Pedwalk meets Dive meets Absent Minded in a row.

Already the opening tracks are demonstrating, that the sound environment of Atropine includes more than your usual floor stomper tune. “Glass Jaw” with its aggressive vocals and various noise-samples stalks slowly into your nightmares, while the more than 7 minutes long “Remaining Limb” impresses with part-wise hilarious voice-samples dealing on “delicious” things like necrophilia. The next tune “Retch Trigger” is ideal food for marching the floors of all dark clubs, although their brilliant synth layers and its cold melodic content are transforming this track to be one of the most attractive pieces. The album then turns a bit closer to that more experimental-minded Dive-like influence with mid-tempo tunes like “Coercion” or “Contrite”. Dancefloor-compatibility returns with those pummeling tracks like “Luminax” and “Churn”, while we find in between the to me best tune with “Bonesaw” – this one grabs you by the throat with its oppressive synth-arrangements and bizarre drum-patterns. Finally a remix of the Columbian EBM-project Struck 9 on “Churn” concludes this album. It needs to be said that this album features for the most part re-recordings of the tracks already released on their CDR “Master Raze”, but of course completely revamped and mastered. But don’t think that this alters the good quality of this release – it’s rather the opposite.

They named their album “Recurring Nightmares”? That’s wrong because Atropine have produced a nightmarish sounding EBM album full of diversity and intelligent ideas!

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