Skinny Puppy – hanDover
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Label: Synthetic Symphony
Review by: Tiffany Angeney
Skinny Puppy, the name beats in the heart of the Industrial Music scene. Skinny Puppy was founded in 1982 as a mere side project of the master of music that is cEvin Key. Add in the unsettling vocals of Nivek Ogre and the unrelenting genius of Dwayne Goettel and you arguably have the most influential Industrial bands of this century. Raw, Organic and hard hitting, Skinny Puppy became the sound many associate with the industrial genre. The complex layers of sound fused with Nivek’s mind numbing vocals, and stimulating lyrics in open monologue form fed the music. With the loss of Dwayne in the mid 90′s and Ogre’s leaving the band, Skinny Puppy was put on hold. In 2004 “The Greater Wrong Of The Right” was released and it was clear the Skinny Puppy we knew had changed forever. Gone was the signature vocals and raw power we once knew. Ogre’s vocals were clean, the samples fewer and the sound modern. Production value was clearly given thought, yet somehow it wasn’t the same. “Mythmaker” was soon to follow with its simplified sound and it fared well on the charts. Four long years later and we are finally seeing the release of the long awaited hanDover.
hanDover opens with “ovirt”. Beginning with a stuttering beat that feels very much like their now famous song “protest”, you are drawn in instantly by Ogre’s signature monologue-esque vocal styling. The opening beats are deceiving for the song itself is slow and drawn out. Musically it’s rich and complex. Layers open layers of blips, synth lines and scratches it’s a wonderful playground of sound for the ears.
“Cullorblind” is by far my favorite song on the album. Opening with an almost ethereal, haunting vibe the peace breaks with the harsh vibrations of a distorted guitar. Nivek can’t decide where he wants his vocals to be. Sometimes clean, other times distorted its confusing and frustrating. The lyrics and sound screams Old
School Skinny Puppy, but one can sense a heavier hand in ohGr’s influences on the new album. The clean vocals and toned down pace screams change.
“Wavy” is my least favorite song on the album, and I feel should have been left out. Gary Numan-esque 80′s inspired synth sounds, repetitive drum rolls and full of distorted vocals the song seems to be crying out that it’s Dark Ambient while never really making it there. Frankly I will skip this song every time it comes up in my library.
“AshAs” is up next. Once again Ogre’s signature monologue breaks the silence and floats over a simple beat. The lyrics seemed forced and under thought. Nivek seems to be a fragment of his old tortured self, and it shows in his lyrics. While not a horrible song, I feel most die-hard fans won’t appreciate it.
“Gambatte” is an amusing change of pace. Fast paced, full of interesting blips and pulses of sound andÂ dancable, this song is probably one of the better on the album. Decadent, fun and still delightfully evilÂ the song plays with your senses. “Icktums” shocked me for a second. Upon hearing it I could have sworn I was listening to VNV Nation’s “Fragments”. The Electro Pop feel of the song literally threw me for a loop. Â Keeping with the distorted vocals and adding layer upon layer of synth riffs, it adds bleeps, boops and the scratchy sounds of machines. I can’t help but feel I’m in some Sci-Fi motion picture and the Bad Guys are pursuing me. Unrelenting, technical and mechanical this is by far one of the better songs on this album. It’s very far from the boysâ€™ original style, but it works, and it works well.
“Point” is a confusing mess of dubstep, house and industrial styling. A cheesy chorus is thrown into the middle of the madness. It’s frustrating and hard on the ears. I couldn’t listen to this more than once. It’s seems like a desperate cry for attention to the new generation of music listeners. “Brownstone” is avant-garde fairytale. Frankly I adore this song. It reminds me a little of Bauhaus. Delightfully decadent and deliciously terrifying itâ€™s the perfect little haunting story. Blips of noise and the scratches of noise make you feel like someone left the radio on and one of those late night horror broadcasts came on. No this isn’t “War of The Worlds”. This is the maddening story of Mr Brownstone.
“Vyrisus” is a throwback to the old Skinny Puppy. Pure Post Industrial in sound, it features cEvin’s brilliant multi- instrument genius and the oh so familiar haunting distortion of Nivek’s voice. While the lyrics are a tad weak, the song composition is spot on. “Village” brings back a few of those terrifying house beats, and layers them over familiar distorted guitar riffs. The guitar is far more prominent on this song than most, but it blends well with Ogre’s style.
“NoiseX” closes out the album. It’s seven minutes of Structured Chaos. Yes, Chaos can have structure. Â Sparse vocals float over a diverse mixture of musical styles. A haunting song, one can’t help but feel like the world has ended. The structure of our society has collapsed. The lives we once knew changed forever in one final moment of destruction. This is the perfect end to an album.
Overall I can’t say I liked the album much. If you are an Old School Skinny Puppy fan I must tell you to run out and buy this album, but I warn you that its like nothing you’ve heard before and may make a lot of old school SP fans cringe in horror. If you are new to Skinny Puppy I advise you to check out their earlier works before buying this. While it’s not the worst album I’ve heard in years, its definitely not the best. The Skinny Puppy we know and love is seemingly pushed aside, and has given way to a new era of sound. Nivek’s side projects have clear influence on his vocal styling, and the sound is cleaner than ever before. I feel the lyrics have gone downhill a bit, and the delightfully chilling evilness to the sound is gone. I will mention though that the production value is amazing. It’s clean, but it’s too clean.
I miss Dwayne. Rest in Peace.
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