Review Summary: In an era where Skinny Puppy refuse to make a classic SP album, it was amazing to see Ogre do it all on his own while still retaining the identity of his previous solo albums.
If a band is around long enough it seems like at least one member is going to step out on their own and release a solo album. In the case of Nivek Ogre he really had no choice in the matter since his fulltime band, Skinny Puppy
, had self-destructed in what seemed like a very permanent way. After the split, a lot of fans hoped that he would use his new band to carry the torch that SP had dropped but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, Ogre went in a weird electro-pop direction that had very little to do with his previous outputs. In hindsight, it was probably a good idea to avoid competing with Skinny Puppy’s legacy so soon after the band’s demise, but times have changed.
Skinny Puppy has since reformed and absorbed most of the influences that Ogre’s side project had to offer (to the dismay of many). This has left some to wonder what the point would be of another album under the moniker, and the answer may surprise you. Rather than create another weird electro-pop album, Ogre has returned to the style of older Skinny Puppy albums and mixed it with the eccentricity and modern sensibility his side project was always known for. This blending of influences, both past and present, has resulted in an incredibly diverse album that stands head-and-shoulders above his previous solo work and even the modern Skinny Puppy albums.
This huge leap in quality is the result of every aspect of the album coming together very effectively, and that begins with the music. Over the course of Devils in my Details
there is a multitude of styles that seemingly draw from any project Ogre has ever been a part of. For those looking for old-school Skinny Puppy there are songs such as “Shhh” with its rhythmic percussion, rolling synths and vocal delivery similar to Ministry
’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod”. On the other hand, there is also the general weirdness that was present on his previous solo albums. For that influence there are songs such as “Feelin Chicken” with its demented circus music and Ogre’s spoken-word nursery rhyme delivery all over squawking chickens and politically charged samples. While every song draws from Ogre’s various projects, there is one influence that seems to be used more than any other on this album.
Devils in my Details
seems to draw from a lot of the same influences as Skinny Puppy’s masterpiece, Too Dark Park
. The influences that I’m referring to are the crazy distorted vocals, the moody synth melodies and the use of white noise; among others. I don’t mean to imply that Ogre is plagiarizing his own back-catalog though, because every song certainly has its own identity. A good example of this would be the song, “Smogharp”, which creates the same dark, moody atmosphere that ran rampant through Too Dark Park
, but it creates its own identity with eerie melodies over a trip-hop beat. This embracing of past and present doesn’t just apply to the music either.
Ogre utilizes an abundance of different vocal effects to an extent that hasn’t been seen from him in over a decade. He has brought back the deeply distorted growls, the compressed singing, and the lunatic ranting as well as a new spoken word style that is very deep in pitch. This liberal use of varying effects allows the album to avoid one of the pitfalls of many industrial albums; redundant, two-dimensional vocals. Lyrically, he treats us to the surreal, political lyrics that he has always been known for. The kind of lyrics where words only remotely seem to make sense together but over the course of a song they seem to slowly merge into a bigger picture.
There are many fans that have become disillusioned with Ogre’s main band and this album seems like a bone thrown in their direction. It retains the strange poppy melodies and electronica-influenced beats of his solo albums, but they come mixed with the kind of sounds Skinny Puppy used to use including the oppressive synths, various processed vocal styles, and dark atmospheres. This combination of styles has not only led to the creation of an album that is the best of both worlds, but also one of the best albums to be released within the industrial genre in quite some time.