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Skinny Puppy: Puppy Gristle

May 25, 2012

Skinny Puppy Puppy GristleRoll: 4-9-12
Album:  Skinny Puppy (w/Genesis P-Orridge), Puppy Gristle (1993)

Many of us {slightly older} Skinny Puppy fans would consider Last Rights to be their final album. Not only is it the last official album with Dwayne Goettel‘s full imput before his death, but it’s the last to really sound like Skinny Puppy. From The Process  onward, they to start chasing trends—in as much as darkwave/goth/industrial-metal could be said to have “trends”.

You can’t really blame cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre for not pulling a New Order and changing the name of the project after Goettel’s death (which occurred mid-session during the recording of The Process and after Ogre had left the band). They certainly earned the right to make a living off the iconic name they’d built.

But though the newer albums are more cohesive than The Process, and more engaging either of the member’s solo projects, the old magic isn’t there. If the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, what happens when there’s an integral part missing?

It could also be, as shock-rockers tend to do as they get older, the once chillingly horrific Skinny Puppy sound a little more silly than scary. Embarrassingly so at times.

Or perhaps they’re simply a victim of their own over-arching influence. Somewhere down their twisted path they ceased to be sonic innovators and began to sound like just another group of Skinny Puppy imitators. Of course this begs the question of how does Skinny Puppy make a Skinny Puppy record that doesn’t reference the scores of industrial/goth bands they influenced? How does any seminal band in any genre do this?

Still, what innovations their post 1995 records do boast, are actually other people’s innovations. There’s some jungle here, a little glitch there and a NIN flavour throughout (though I don’t think they’ve gone dubstep… yet). The occasional use of guitars to beef up the sound is comes off as the laziest move since the Puppies always managed to sound heaviest and most menacing largely without guitars.

As they do here in this 1993 jam session with industrial legend Genesis P-Orridge. Anyone who thought Last Rights was antagonistically dense will find all 40 minutes and eleven seconds of Puppy Gristle‘s single track nearly impenetrable.

Those familiar with P-Orridge’s early work with industrial/noise progenitors Throbbing Gristle, specifically the first two albums, will find it a relatively pleasant walk in the park. Though it’s probably a park that’s too dark for anyone unfamiliar with the terrain.

It’s a fetid bog of radio static, disjointed drum machine beats, sweeping waves of analogue synth, distorted mumbles, squelches, belches, white noise, orchestral samples and pitch-modulated… everything. Glorious darkness.

It’s really the perfect swan song for the band and I choose to believe it’s the last thing they ever recorded.

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3 comments

  1. should feed it until it is a fat dog


  2. Great review and thanks for posting the album! A glorious trip of aural beauty and insanity.



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