Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Metropolis
Genre(s): Electronic, Industrial, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Heavy Metal
Hitting the speakers with an incredibly dense recording of zombie sequencers going haywire, Skinny Puppy's 2013 effort The Weapon is an instantly recognizable return to form for the veteran electro-industrial group, and a sure about-face from the film-worthy, large-landscape music the group has released since the millennium turned. Still, the album is filled with current events and musical progress, the former represented by the album's disgust with 2013's gun culture, hence the album's title. The latter is represented by a whole mess of little touches, spanning from the sublime (check the breakbeat of "saLvo" for something equally ominous and funky) to the ridiculous (lead singer Ogre stuns with an almost-rap during "Wornin'," spitting "We'll make you feel the Jim Jones vibe" in a rare blast of knowingly hip).
Weapon, the twelfth studio album from Skinny Puppy, is not your older brother’s Skinny Puppy. Well, it is and it isn’t. Those of us of a certain age in Canada certainly remember the originally Vancouver-based Skinny Puppy as a glitchy industrial and electronic band, and early songs such as “Dig It” and “Deep Down Trauma Hounds” were certainly tuneful to a degree, but the band had an abrasive side.
Since reforming in 2000, after a five-year hiatus, Skinny Puppy 2.0 have now been an active band for as long as their original trailblazing incarnation. Retaining the core line-up of Ogre, cevin Key and Mark Walk, the Vancouver, BC industrialists have followed-up 2011's well-received HanDover with the decorous, buoyant Weapon, their 12th full-length. Further working towards fusing the glossy synth sound of their early work with the dark experimentalism of their '90s releases, much of Weapon benefits from Skinny Puppy's reclaimed penchant for pouncing rhythms and bouncing melodies.
Skinny Puppy's latest is unapologetically electronic. Weapon begins with a retro sound — static-y, videogame-ish synth running through high contemporary production — before a moody groove leads into a spacious track interlacing smooth, round instrumental tones and Skinny Puppy's characteristically harsh vocal style, and so on. Weapon relies more on rhythm than melody, often creating cumulative complexity via the layering of simpler patterns.
The great irony of Skinny Puppy’s career is that despite their heavy industrial reputation, their sound has grown increasingly organic over the years. Which is not to suggest they’ve swapped synths for wooden flutes and dulcimers, just to point out that their electro beats routinely feel more human than mechanical. But given that the “weapon” of the title is mankind itself, that blurring of man and machine probably isn’t accidental.
Review Summary: Skinny Puppy inject a bit of 80s influences into their new sound and come away with their best 'comeback' release so far.Fan nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, nostalgia is what allows a fan to look back on an album with unadulterated love; even the questionable parts. The downside to fan nostalgia is that it can cause an artist’s current output to be dismissed simply because it doesn’t adhere to the same formula as the classic material.