Cold Hands is yet another difficult-to-define gem in Black Dice's scattered discography. Somewhere in between an EP and a full-length album, Cold Hands finds Black Dice moving further away from their Void-esque hardcore roots while continuing to hone an unrelentingly confrontational aesthetic of analog terror. The album's first track, "Cold Hands," opens with the sound of some wind-up toy's music tone, soft yet ominously disjointed; soon, drones from some unknown pedal applied to some unknown instrument slowly overtake the toy noises, building until some predetermined moment in time when everything fades away. The second track, "Smile Friends," is an ear-splitting disaster, a noisy racket of strings being ripped from guitars, pasted over and around chaotic rhythms so off-kilter that the song assumes some sort of intuitive rhythm, one that works by totally bucking any normal sense of time instead of utilizing standard meter. "The Raven" is based around a simple hypnotic riff, reminiscent of early Swans in its simplicity, but played faster and with a more skewed sense of timing. "Birthstone," which clocks in at over ten minutes, is the real shocker here, though, a symphony of feedback that cycles through several subtly rearranged movements of noise with an almost graceful intensity. Shedding clichés and defying expectations, Black Dice composed the only possible legitimate follow-up that could equal the inventiveness of their self-titled release by creating niches that only they could fill, occupying the space between punk, hardcore, noise, and abstract electronic music without sounding hodgepodge or displaying the overt, obligatory postmodernism of, say, John Zorn's Naked City.
AllMusic Review by Josh Eppert