Skinny Puppy

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Chainsaw [Single]

Skinny Puppy - Chainsaw Single ©1986 Nettwerk
1. Chainsaw
2. Assimilate Remix (R:23)
3. Cage
4. Stairs & Flowers (def Wish Mix)
5. Stares & Flowers (too Far Gone)

In the history of the great Skinny Puppy singles releases, Chainsaw ranks right up towards the top of excellence, mostly buoyed by the fantastic remix of "Assimilate". With a running time just under a half hour, Chainsaw is more of an EP release than a mere single and the band gives you your money's worth in the five songs here. Strangely, the title track is not the most interesting track here. As noted above, "Assimilate Remix (R:23)" is by far the best thing on the single. Infused with much more aggressive percussion programming, the song takes on a new life in this remix and rates as one of the best Skinny Puppy songs of all time. The single also includes two versions of "Stairs and Flowers", originally from Mind: the Perpetual Intercourse. Neither version explains precisely why that guy keeps slipping down those damn stairs, however. "Cage" is a typically dense and chaotic Skinny Puppy track, though not particularly life changing. Overall, Chainsaw is a fully outstanding single release that deserves nearly as much attention as some of their early full length releases.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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Bites And Remission

Skinny Puppy - Bites And Remission ©1987 Nettwerk
1. Film
2. Smothered Hope
3. Glass Houses
4. Far Too Frail
5. Solvent
6. Sleeping Beast
7. Glass Out
8. Brap
9. Assimilate (R-23)
10. Deadlines
11. Blood On The Wall
12. Ice Breaker
13. Christianity
14. The Choke (regrip)
15. Social Deception
16. Basement
17. Last Call

Kindly pairing two of the earliest Skinny Puppy albums onto one disc, Bites and Remission shows the band at their embryonic stage where a lot of their music turned out cute and quaint, rather than the devastating and disturbing pieces they would later create in their career. Blame it on a more primitive technology, lower recording budgets, lesser realized musician potential or a combination of all those things, but early Skinny Puppy is something that I simply smile at and enjoy at face value. Granted, their mix of noise experimentation coupled with danceable music did result in some of their finest songs: "The Choke", "Assimilate", "Deadlines" and "Smothered Hope" (which was resurrected for a much more bruising version by Ministry on the b-side of their "Burning Inside" twelve inch). But to hear those songs on Skinny Puppy's live album, Ain't It Dead Yet, you immediately realize that the band was still working out the kinks in the early days. They were already deeply into including samples into songs, such as Ronald Reagan's blurb about pornography at the end of "Far Too Frail". But a good chunk of these songs lack a real solid punch or sensory overload. For fans of the band, this still is a very necessary purchase to completely understand where this band came from and to view their impressive development over the years. But you can't expect to react in anything but occasional awe and a lot more amusement.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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Testure [Single]

Skinny Puppy - Testure Single ©1989 Nettwerk/Capitol
1. Testure (12" Mix)
2. Testure (S.F. Mix)
3. The Second Opinion
4. Serpents

"Testure" so happens to be one of Skinny Puppy's finest moments and this particular four song single benefits greatly from that. Dealing head on with the topic of animal rights and their horrendous role in research, Skinny Puppy holds back no punches on their viewpoint in this song, all while working within a rather conventional and accessible song structure. (Read: less chaotic and more ear friendly than a lot of their other material.) "Testure" was easily the best track on viviSECTvi and both versions here are good. The 12" mix is a bit drawn out compared to the album version. The two non-album tracks aren't anything particularly standout or special, sounding a bit like holdovers from Cleanse Fold and Manipulate, being beat and sample heavy. Regardless, this is one single that is a must for any Skinny Puppy fan as it represents the band issuing one of their strongest statements both musically and socially.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2000

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Rabies

Skinny Puppy - Rabies ©1989 Nettwerk/Capitol
1. Rodent
2. Hexonxonx
3. Two Time Grime
4. Fascist Jock Itch
5. Worlock
6. Rain
7. Tin Omen
8. Rivers
9. Choralone
10. Amputate
11. Spahn Dirge (live)

I like Skinny Puppy. And damn, do I ever like Rabies! There are hard-charging songs which offer up an uncompromising blast of industrial aggression; others have enough of a groove to grab the primitive, lizard part of your brain and force you to bob your head, slave to a power beyond your control; the slower, more atmospheric tracks are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine if you listen closely. Damn, this is a good disc!

The first nine tracks are uniformly excellent. I especially enjoy "Rodent," "Hexonxonx" (hex-on-Exxon, get it?), "Worlock," and "Tin Omen" (Tiananmen, as in the Beijing square where the People's Army massacred the People). No knocks against the other five good cuts, which are oustanding in their own right…these are just my personal faves. However, things break down at track ten, with "Amputate," which is just a droning, generic sort of track that sounds like a leftover from any of Skinny Puppy's previous releases. It's not worthless but isn't particularly good, either. And oh, God, skip Spahn Dirge—what a crappy song. It's 16:24 of aimless noise. Program your CD player's long-term memory function to always skip this track.

Part of my affection for Rabies, which does not extend to the aforementioned two songs, stems from the fact that it was the first Puppy CD that I summoned the courage to purchase; however, the power of the music is what keeps me coming back. With the assistance of guest musician Alien Jourgensen of Ministry, Puppy ventured from their comfortable keyboard-and-sample ghetto for a foray into more accessible guitar-inflected territory. Of course, this was also when Al introduced Ogre to the magical land of heroin…but that's another story, kiddies. Point is, Rabies has some kick-ass tunes that rate as some of the most likable work the band ever produced. I make no claims that this disc is their best—I'll defer to the "real" industrial aficionados who probably dislike Rabies for sounding too "commercial" and would threaten me with bodily harm—but it's accessible to a wider audience than fans of "clank clank clank" music and is one of my absolute favorites in the genre.

Rabies is a must-buy if you're into the guitar-based style of industrial music. Just be sure to get the remastered version with the entirely clear plastic case instead of the original release with a black plastic disc holder. The improved sound quality is worth a few extra bucks.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 08/1999

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Review #2

First impressions can mean everything. For Skinny Puppy and their fans, it meant releasing an album accidentally mastered with noise reduction making it a muddy sounding mess. Then when frontman Nivek Ogre brought over Al Jourgensen, who had been taking him away for tours with Ministry and RevCo, against the wishes of the band, it allowed Uncle Al to stamp his sonic trademarks everywhere, thus creating a schism between the band. To top it off, the music video for their signature song, "Worlock", was banned due to violent content and copyright violation for featuring clips of quite a few too many Dario Argento films. No, Rabies did not have a great start out of the gate and is still considered a misstep for these Canadian sound manipulators.

But does the reality differ from perception? Not too many songs here would stand out of place on any of Skinny Puppy's previous outings. Al's metal riffing sneaks into "Rodent" at the 4:20 mark (subtle), and is heavily prominent on "Fascist Jock Itch" (a precursor to "T.F.W.O" off Too Dark Park) and "Tin Omen", the latter being one of the bands better songs in their vast catalogue. Aside from those, Ministry's influence isn't anywhere to be found and only really gels for one track, "Hexonxonx", one of their most venomous lashing outs against political and corporate corruption and is still featured in their live act today. The moment that not only defines the album, but arguably their career, is "Worlock". With its hauntingly beautiful string arrangement sample and Ogre's emotional vocal performance climaxing in a guitar sample of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" with Charles Manson singing the refrain for a courtroom transcends the song to another plateau.

Whatever hardcore fans may say negatively about Rabies should be taken lightly since it is consistent with the quality of their work up to that point. Albums that wavered and meandered with a few standout songs that truly showcased their potential. Perhaps expectations were too high for a Skinny Puppy/Ministry collaboration. Regardless, it didn't take Skinny Puppy off their path since this wasn't the last time they featured metallic guitars in their music. Rabies may have created a rift between Ogre and cEvin Key, DR Goettel, and producer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie (often considered an unofficial member), but it seemed to strengthen and focus them as a musical entity as their next records showed. For that alone Rabies may be the most important Skinny Puppy album.

Review by Joel Gilbert

Review date: 03/2014

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Too Dark Park

Skinny Puppy - Too Dark Park ©1990 Nettwerk/Capitol
1. Convulsions
2. Tormentor
3. Spasmolytic
4. Rash Reflection
5. Nature's Revenge
6. Shore Lined Poison
7. Grave Wisdom
8. T.F.W.O.
9. Morpheus Laughing
10. Reclamation

Trying to enter this album is a rough ride. "Convulsions" is simply a dense, claustrophobic track that makes you think twice about the world Skinny Puppy dwells in. In comparison to the entire scope of the Puppy's music, Too Dark Park is the most cluttered, suffocating album of them all. Some of their best material is also contained on here as well. The music personifies chaos on a multi-dimensional level, from the distorted harsh vocals of Nivek Ogre to the beat-heavy tribal hatred of Cevin Key and DR Goettel. Key and Goettel outdo themselves on this album with their musical landscapes of torment and angst. "T.F.W.O." is a throwback to the rabid guitar of Rabies while the clustered "Spasmolytic" and the abrasiveness of "Shore Lined Poison" both corrode the sense and appeals. Too Dark Park is truly a major step up for Skinny Puppy from all their previous works and set the stage for the climax to their career.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Ain't It Dead Yet?

Skinny Puppy - Ain't It Dead Yet? ©1991 Nettwerk
1. Anger
2. The Choke
3. Addiction
4. Assimilate
5. First Aid
6. Dig It
7. God's Gift Maggot
8. Deep Down Trauma Hounds
9. Chainsaw
10. Brap
11. Smothered Hope

Originally recorded in Toronto in 1987, Ain't It Dead Yet? has been issued as a live VHS tape, CD and DVD. Unlike many live performances, this one is actually a pretty good capture of Skinny Puppy just as they were beginning to catch the creative upswing. Obviously the audio version lacks the various stage shenanigans that made Skinny Puppy infamous, but one can find plenty to enjoy on this album.

Of course, it should be mentioned it's taken me quite awhile to come to appreciate this particular release. My first copy was on CD, where some genius decided to present the entire performance as a single track. This was back in the days when my portable CD player did not resume where it left off if I happened to stop the car in order to get a refreshing beverage at the Circle K. In fact, it just made me angry that the CD was unindexed and my protest, feeble as it may be, was to never play it. Yes, the record label sure learned their lesson, since I had already paid for it. Anyhow, eventually this problem was corrected on other pressings. The second problem I had was trying to get through the difficult beginning as the opening track "Anger" is dense and claustrophobic. Once past that, Skinny Puppy settles into a fantastic display of percussive battery, electronics and Nivek Ogre's sinister vocal rantings. "The Choke", "Addiction" and "Assimilate" represent a perfect trio of songs. It can be a bit of a challenge for a live band to create a powerful set list that flawlessly flows together, but Skinny Puppy does just that. The album contains many of their best tracks from their mid 80s era and the live versions tend to improve upon the original studio tracks. This live album could easily be seen as a greatest hits collection, except reworked into improved versions.

No doubt nothing would be bette than actually witnessing this concert in person, but for a slightly sterilized "capture", Ain't It Dead Yet? successfully avoids the live album curse of being utterly useless. Skinny Puppy had many good releases during this time period and this is one of them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2010

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Spasmolytic EP

Skinny Puppy - Spasmolytic EP ©1991 Nettwerk
1. Spasmolytic (remix)
2. Shore Lined Poison (remix)
3. Harsh Stone White (live In Denver)
4. Walking On Ice (live Excerpts)
5. Choralone (live In Houston)

My first initation with Skinny Puppy was with Too Dark Park but I had a very difficult time wading through the very dense material that makes up that album. It was this EP, which featured remixed and live tracks from Too Dark Park that was successfully able to collar me into the world of Skinny Puppy. A downright brilliant excursion that showed the band in peak form both in the studio and live, Spasmolytic is a sneak attack that grabs you by the throat with big fangs and never lets go. The two remixed tracks are far superior to their original counterparts. "Shore Lined Poison" has some very excellent subtle touches that build the song greatly. "Harsh Stone White" is a more somber, quiet piece. The final two sections are a collage of live sounds and percussive nightmares that are sure to warp your world into many twisted dimensions. The density of the Too Dark Park era still is intact throughout, but it is much more evenly spread for easier assimilation and mental destruction. Very highly recommended.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Last Rights

Skinny Puppy - Last Rights ©1992 Nettwerk/Capitol
1. Love In Vein
2. Killing Game
3. Knowhere
4. Mirror Saw
5. Inquisition
6. Scrapyard
7. Riverz End
8. Lust Chance
9. Circustance
11. Download

In the tumultuous history of Skinny Puppy, many albums were marked by a basic inconsistency of music. While there were certain tracks that simply excelled at pushing forth proper mood and disarrayed chaos of Skinny Puppy, there was also quite a bit of filler material. By the time the band hit Last Rights, the matter/anti-matter chemistry of the band somehow pooled together to create the epitome of the Skinny Puppy musical legacy. Much has been made of the apparent antagonism between Cevin Key and Nivek Ogre, but perhaps it was the venom that added the sting to the bite. Armed with a handful of "friendly" songs such as "Inquisition", "Killing Game", "Riverz End" (a follow up to "Rivers" from Rabies) and "Love In Vein" as well as a completely deconstruction sound collage called "Download" that finishes out the album. The most striking aspect of the album is the sheer quality of the songs that weren't just attempting to capture a mood (as other record reviewers have accused them of and rightfully so). These songs, as with "Assimilate" and "Smothered Hope" from the past, truly stand out as pieces of work that rise above mere sound manipulation. While certain songs are quite jarring in their obtuse patterns, the overall flow of the album draws the work together into a single solitary body of music. Last Rights served grandly for several years as the Skinny Puppy epitaph, until The Process resurfaced in 1996. Regardless, it remains to this day as Skinny Puppy's finest moment.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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The Process

Skinny Puppy - The Process ©1996 American
1. Jahya
2. Death
3. Candle
4. Hardset Head
5. Cult
6. Process
7. Curcible
8. Blue Serge
9. Morter
10. Amnesia
11. Cellar Heat

If Skinny Puppy had never reunited after 1992's Last Rights, the band would have finished their recording career on an incredible high note. That album served as one of the Canadian outfit's finest moments. However, the creative juices and the enticement of a contract with American Recordings somehow brought the trio of Skinny Puppy back together to record another album and ultimately destroyed the band for good. The band burned though countless dollars and several notable producers before finally bringing in longtime producer David Ogilvie to salvage the project. The pressures of making this album apparently got to D.R. Goettel, who died of a herion overdose in August of 1995, thereby putting the tombstone on Skinny Puppy permanently.

Regardless of the turmoil during the creation of The Process, the album is a surprisingly cohesive and remarkable new angle on Skinny Puppy's music. Elements such as acoustic guitar, naked and unprocessed vocals from Ogre and a more sparse arrangement all make The Process a distinctly different record than anything the band had previously released. The electronics and barrage of samples are reduced to create an effectively minimalized atmosphere that actually built up mood just as efficiently. Unlike the claustrophic Too Dark Park or the controlled chaos and ultimate musical breakdown of Last Rights, The Process is a song oriented take on their core sound. Much of the music is more akin to Cevin Key and Goettel's contributions to The Tear Garden's 1992 release Last Man to Fly.

While The Process is a strange epitaph for Skinny Puppy, one can almost wish that the band had stayed separated after Last Rights. If nothing else, perhaps Goettel would still be alive and making great music. However, you can't change history with wishes and The Process shall be the band's final statement. In the grand scheme of things, it does appear to be more of an epilogue than a final chapter to their book. It's an album worthy of the band's reputation, but it's not the definitive work by them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Doomsday - Back And Forth 5: Live In Dresden

Skinny Puppy - Doomsday - Back And Forth 5: Live In Dresden ©2001 Nettwerk
1. Deep Down Trauma Hounds
2. Love In Vein
3. Inquisition
4. Convulsion
5. Worlock
6. Grave Wisdom
7. Killing Game
8. Social Deception
9. First Aid
10. Testure
11. Dig It
12. Tin Omen
13. Harsh Stone White
14. The Choke

This live CD is something I never expected to see after the apocalyptic breakup of Skinny Puppy after The Process was recorded in the mid 90s. Imagine my surprise to see that founding members Cevin Key and Nivek Ogre had set aside their differences to reunite onstage and record a German show for posterity. From everything I had gathered in the press, Skinny Puppy was truly dead, particularly since third member D.R. Goettel had passed away in 1996. Yet, here is Doomsday - Back + Forth Vol. 5 - Live in Dresden.

The rundown of the setlist reads essentially like a tracklist to a greatest hits release and to a degree, this live set comes across as just that. The material ranges from their earlier years clear through to 1992's excellent Last Rights. Conspiciously absent is anything from their ill-fated The Process, which doesn't come as much of a surprise. Instead, the band sticks with career highlights, such as "Testure", "Inquisition", "Harsh Stone White" and many others, which I'm sure many fans will agree comprises a strong setlist. For the most part, Ogre and Key offer faithful renditions of the songs, giving this CD even more of a "greatest hits" feel. I'm certain this show featured its share of fantastic live visuals, none of which exactly cross into the audio medium.

Despite not necessarily being vital, Doomsday is a very enjoyable release that pleases me to no end that Key and Ogre could work together again. Rumors have it that the duo intends to write some new material in the future, which would be icing on the cake. Here's to successful reunions of truly innovative and enjoyable bands.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2003

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The Greater Wrong Of The Right

Skinny Puppy - The Greater Wrong Of The Right ©2004 SPV
1. I'mmortal
2. Pro-Test
3. Empte
4. Neuwerld
5. Ghostman
6. Downsizer
7. Past Present
8. Use Less
9. Goneja
10. Daddyuwarbash

After the implosion of Skinny Puppy after the disastrous The Process sessions, the chance of the band ever reforming to record again seem as likely as George W. Bush making it through a press conference without mangling at least three relatively simple words. Upon the passing of D.R. Goettel, surviving members Ogre and Cevin Key seemed very intent on spitting venom and being unpleasant through media sources. Or perhaps they were misquoted. Nevertheless, time heals most wounds and in the case of Key and Ogre, the two apparently decided to hug and make up. As a result, they released a live album and finally took the time to record a studio effort.

Now one must keep in mind that over time, the creative juices of Skinny Puppy have changed. When The Process came out in 1996, it was definitely a different beast than any of its predecessors. Considering it's been another seven years since the last studio album and a key member of the band is no longer with us, it's no surprise that The Greater Wrong of the Right has less in common with Skinny Puppy circa 1992 or earlier than The Process. Skinny Puppy's 1996 release serves as a springboard for The Greater Wrong and results in an album of inconsisent music.

As with The Process, the newest Skinny Puppy relies more on distorted guitars and of even more concern, naked, unprocessed vocals from Ogre. Generally speaking, the songwriting on The Greater Wrong is pretty good. It's certainly nowhere near as claustrophic and dense as prime Skinny Puppy, but perhaps having only two songwriters as opposed to three frees up musical space. But it's Ogre's singing that occasionally stands in the way of things. On "Neuworld", his voice is thoroughly intrusive and excessively bothersome. It is the reason why they invented the skip button. Aside from that misstep, the majority of this CD is at the very least, pretty good. Skinny Puppy has the curse/blessing of being legendary and thus, everything they release for the rest of their natural lives will be compared against their immense back catalogue. The Greater Wrong of the Right pales next to the likes of Last Rites or Rabies, but when presented in the grand scheme of things, it's a decent release. In any case, it's better to have Ogre and Key on the same team than releasing separate projects.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2005

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