Review Summary: The industrial wizards return from the dead and offer one of their more apealing albums.
Usually when a group goes on hiatus for an extended period of time, you don’t expect them to return. You surely wouldn’t expect a group in this kind of situation to return with an album actually worth your time. Well there are exceptions to everything and Skinny Puppy’s
“The Greater Wrong of the Right” is one of them. Sure they could have thrown in the towel and called it a career. Especially considering that their lead keyboardist Dwayne Goettel died midway through their prior album. But instead the group decided some eight years later to return the studio and make another album. Of course they didn’t just settle for the same but decided to push the group in yet another direction.
Right away you will notice something different about the style of sound. Instead of wondering what the hell Ogre is saying, we are treated to some clear and obvious lyrics early on. In the first track “I’mmortal” we hear a repeated “Just lookin’ for something” Some of the most pronunciated lyrics from Ogre up to this point. This continues into the next track titled “Pro-test”, in which we hear “(In the streets), Hit me in the streets (Hit me! Hit me)” over and over again in a rather blatant fashion. Of course you will still have to find some official lyrics while trekking your way through the heavy use of vocal distortion. That is if you are even interested in what is being said. While staying on this track (“Pro-test”) I should mention that it is also much more dance friendly. Its simple beats and catchy vocal melodies give it a much more techno vibe. This shouldn’t be a total surprise if you heard their preceding album, “The Process”, which showed hints of this sound in tracks like “Blue Serge” and “Morter” While this style is apparent on other tracks of this album, it is mostly apparent on the particular track. And this is the only one I feel it doesn’t work. It’s use of simple and conventional sounds make me wonder “Why am I listening to this song if I’m going to listen to this group right now?” If a want to hear a dance groove I’ll listen to The Prodigy
or Daft Punk
, but if I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone a bit I listen to something like Skinny Puppy.
While many of these tracks, with their minor key piano licks (Empte) and less dense sound (Ghostman), feel as if they could have easily been plopped into “The Process”, the album still definitely manages to add new sounds and ideas. Tracks like “I’mmoratal” and “Past and Present” features some truly fresh and superb keyboard work. And Tool’s
Danny Carey uses his tom work to help give “Use Less” a very cool tribal feel. Something I would sure like to hear more of. The album as a whole has a much grander feel to it as well. Songs like “Empte” and “Use Less” uses timpani and other loud percussion to slowly make these dramatic chord progressions come to life. I can tell quality time has been put into nearly every song allowing me to easily listen to this album all the way through.
Of course there are some flaws I should mention. First off, Ogre is sometimes just flat out annoying on this album. Listening to him whine “Neeeeew wooooorld ooooorder” on “Neewerld” gets kind of old quickly. His vocal melodies are just not as strong on certain tracks as well. “Pro-test” and “Downsizer” feature some repetitive and monotonous melodies that also grow tiresome quickly. Lyrics also seem to take a backseat on this album. Maybe it’s just because we can actually hear some of his lyrics now, but in any event we’re forced to hear some less than stellar lyrical work. The lyrics of “Pro-test” that were posted earlier display one of the lower points of the album lyrically. You’re probably thinking I’ve really trashed that song by now and I guess I have. It’s actually not that bad of a song, it just displays a lot of the issues I had with this album. However, these flaws do little to take away from the overall sound of the album.
I’m really glad Skinny Puppy
didn’t just stop making music. Not just because I love their music, but because I think this one of their better albums. It has some really well done songs that push the envelope for further development of their ever progressing sound. Like always, the digital layering is outstanding and the songs this time out are very catchy (sometimes too catchy). It brings back the heavy hitting effects that were lacking on “The Process” but retains the same moodiness and groove that that album achieved. I would strongly recommend this album to any industrial fan, or any electronica fan for that matter. What do you have to lose? It’s not like Ogre is growling much anymore. Unless you let the spooky melodies scare you away, there’s no reason not to check this out.