The mid ’90s were a tumultuous period for Skinny Puppy. There were problems with long-time producer Dave “Rave” Ogilvie, their shared house in California burnt down, they spilt from Nettwerk Records, and internal band divisions resulted in founding member Nivek Ogre’s departure from the band.
However, all that seemed like banal band worries on 23 August 1995 when Dwayne Goettell died from a heroin overdose. As a dedication to their decased band-mate, cEvin Key, Dave “Rave” Ogilvie and Nivek Ogre released The Process in 1996, an album which was half-finished when Goettel died. It offered slight hope to their fans that the previous year was not the end.
Four years of solo recordings and back catalogue releases went by and finally Ogre and Key reformed in Germany in 2000 to play a memorable performance. Followers of the classic industrial electronica band had feared there would never be collaboration between the pair again though, until the release of The Greater Wrong Of The Right. It is the usual Skinny Puppy affair, a gothic and broody ambience created by samples and steady drum beats all mixed with electronics and topped with Ogre’s lean vocals.
The album begins with a deafening noise that would give Superman earache. The variety of textures and synths on I’mmortal make it listenable, but it’s only a regular slice of electronica that is a taste of what’s to come. Pro-test is a weird fusion of nu-metal, industrial metal and electronic pop that functions remarkably well.
Like most of the album, Ghostman has a retro ’80s sound but is strangely bearable. It must be Orre’s irresistibly unique voice that is the hook to carry you through what is essentially dated Pet Shops Boys music with an added layer of heaviness. Ogre cannot sing, but then neither can Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne or a handful of other successful artists, and his voice has a mysterious quality that is alluring.
Skinny Puppy have unknowingly made the theme to the new Doctor Who series with D0wnsizer – a bizarrely assembled concoction of weird samples of ’60s TV series style music, ray gun and spaceship sounds, Martian-like vocals and pronounced drum beats.
Tool‘s Danny Carey appears on Use Less (on acoustic drum) along with Wayne Static of Static X who adds his deep vocals to the same track. It is a mid-tempo song that stands out because of its heavier sound, aggressive drumming and menacing backing vocals. Unfortunately, Past Present sounds like David Bowie got hold of it and didn’t know when to stop adding layers of sound effects and samples.
The Greater Wrong Of The Right is notable for the absence of producer David Ogilvie but fans will rejoice in the reunion of the original duo. It’s an interesting, if predictable, album, but unfortunately nothing stands out on its own merits. Each track follows the same broken road that has only a few intact flag stones – it is a bumpy and tedious trip.
There is the impression that the album was made just to please a few people in the room while forgetting the rest of the class, so only ardent fans will revel in Skinny Puppy’s first album of the new century.