Review Summary: Skinny Puppy inject a bit of 80s influences into their new sound and come away with their best 'comeback' release so far.
Fan nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, nostalgia is what allows a fan to look back on an album with unadulterated love; even the questionable parts. The downside to fan nostalgia is that it can cause an artist’s current output to be dismissed simply because it doesn’t adhere to the same formula as the classic material. Skinny Puppy are just one of many established acts that know exactly how frustrating that dichotomy can be. Their older albums are generally revered throughout industrial circles as classics within the genre, but their current releases have not been receiving the same amount of love or support.
Skinny Puppy have never really released the same album twice, but up through Last Rights
their abrasive, politically-charged sound was improved upon in a gradual and deliberate manner that didn’t ever come with shocking stylistic modifications. This all changed with the release of The Process
. The band stripped away all of the oppressive electronic layers, Ogre’s vocals were totally unprocessed and the uncomfortable aura that was central to the Skinny Puppy mystique went missing. It was a great album, but it threw a lot of people for a loop and caused nostalgia to rear its ugly head. It took eight years before the band released another album, and it was just as much of a stylistic leap as The Process
. Skinny Puppy’s newest sound was warm and melodic and was backed by infectious beats and a more energetic vocal delivery. The darkness was gone, the electronic layers were gone and even the electro-goth of The Process
was missing. Of course, nostalgia has demanded that these albums be criticized for what they aren’t, which is too bad because they’ve all been solid releases.
is the fourth album released since the band’s reformation in 2004 and it doesn’t stray too far from their current formula. For those that haven’t really kept up on all things Puppy; at its core the band’s current sound is simply a return to the pure electronics of their earliest material, but with a much more melodically engaging undercurrent. The aspect that differentiates this current formula from the band’s past is the large amount of influences lifted from Ogre’s warped, electro-pop, solo material. It’s the influx of Ogre’s solo influences that has lead to energetic dance-oriented beats, strange electro melodies, cleaner vocals and a lighter atmosphere. Unlike the last few releases, though, the band made a conscious effort to include a bit more of their earliest influences in the mix, as well. In order to bring back that early vibe, they decided to record Weapon
entirely on ‘legacy’ equipment and even re-record the song ‘Solvent’ (originally from Remission
). The move seemed to work because Weapon
almost feels like a more melodic, less oppressive, Bites
Fans have been having problems with Skinny Puppy’s output since the release of The Process
. With the release of Weapon
it might be time for them to finally accept that this is what the guys in Skinny Puppy want to do – and maybe even realize that it’s not bad at all. Weapon
is full of semi-danceable (or at least infectious) beats, catchy electro-melodies and Ogre’s smooth, semi-atonal, clean vocals and it is easily the best of the band’s ‘comeback’ albums. Weapon
is the sound of a band that still has something to say, but delivered with a comfort level commensurate with their thirty years of existence. What the hell does that mean? It means that the guys in Skinny Puppy actually seem to be enjoying themselves and are comfortable enough with their legacy to finish out their career on their own terms – creating satisfying music without the huge amount of stress associated with the ‘classic’ releases. If this leads you to the conclusion that Weapon
goes against every standard Skinny Puppy convention, then you haven’t actually heard the album.