Though bands continue to come and go and many burn out after their peak or remain steadfast in the wheels of motion rehashing a dying formula, some manage to continue their work with much the same desire and influential results that they started with.
One such band are pioneers of electronic industrial music Skinny Puppy, who’s twelfth studio album ‘Weapon’ is again a progression of concepts rather than re-structured ideas of old.
Since 1984’s ‘Remission’ (one of, if not my favourite release), the sound of Skinny Puppy has evolved from samples and sound-bites fused with rhythmic drum-loops into darker politically inspired industrial-anger akin with bands such as Nitzer Ebb, KMFDM and Front 242 into more structured and synthesised offerings, albeit constantly retaining the original industrial blueprint.
Two years ago, they released one of their arguably strongest albums to date in the form of the mighty ‘hanDover’ (which followed the rather stagnant ‘Mythmaker’) and re-affirmed Skinny Puppy at the top of the pile.
With a drastic shift the last decade in the popularity of electronic dance and industrial outfits, including the surge in samples and heavy cross-over styles (that is, of course, this ‘new-age dubstep’), there are a lot of artists releasing material which merges the synthesised aural excepts of the mid to late 1980s and early 90s with the post-millennial stylings of metal, RnB and pop.
As such, it must be tempting for fore-fathers of the craft to jump on the band-wagon if only for sustainability in the harsh fields of reality. Unfortunately for nay-sayers, ‘Weapon’ takes over from where ‘hanDover’ left off and demonstrates a resounding return to form for the guys.
Lyrically, Skinny Puppy (specifically Nivek) have always touched on the themes and consequences of world politics and government agendas. It feels throughout ‘Weapon’ that they are again reminding us of the woeful state of paranoia and determination to assert our right to bear arms and defend ourselves against those that wrong us. There remains a strain of resentment and disillusion with those in power in the much the same way that Al ‘Ministry’ Jourgensen furiously (and rightly) reminds us with each post-Bush release.
There are moments through ‘Weapon’ that seem as if you’ve heard them before, though repeat listening suggests this might just be another case of recognising the unmistakable sound that they have perfected; Nivek’s electronically charged vocals cut through the ambient crescendos of long-time sidekicks cEvin Key and Mark Walk and whilst it is a vibrant and inspiring listen, it never strays too far away from their dark-roots.
There are many who frown upon the industrial scene, but it’s influences range far into all aspects of contemporary music. Whilst bands such as Nine Inch Nails (who Trent Reznor started following his exposure to Skinny Puppy) have eventually gained more commercial success, the die-hard fans of this type of music will not be disappointed with this release. It also serves as a fairly accessible gateway for those experimenting with diversity; though definitely not their best work, it’s certainly a worthy addition to their catalogue.
Where Daft Punk remain a constant reminder to all pop groups on just how fantastic pop music should be written, Skinny Puppy remain the older brother; the dark-antithesis to their joy and long may it stay that way.
1. ‘wormin” (4:42)
2. ‘illisiT’ (3:57)
3. ‘saLvo’ (3:45)
4. ‘gLowbeL’ (3:15)
5. ‘solvent’ (4:37)
6. ‘paragUn’ (4:52)
7. ‘survivalisto’ (4:50)
8. ‘tsudanama’ (5:53)
9. ‘plastiCage’ (3:13)
10. ‘terminal’ (4:01)
[ Length : 43:05 ]