This is truly an awesome album, if you can get it. It starts with what sounds like the world being turned inside out, and then being played at various speeds on an old hand-cranked record player. And then the crashing, growling and mad samples begin. There's also all kinds of quirky piano bits, and even a sort of ballad (Killing Game). Yet it remains just the right side of chaos or cheesiness, and is strangely listenable. If ever Wiliam Burroughs "cut up" style has ever been successfully translated into sound, then this is it. This was my first introduction to Skinny Puppy, and still remains my favourite. It's an ideal precursor to "The Process" which has more of a metal edge to it, and also to their earlier works, which may take more of a detuned ear.
Although perennially catalogued as a sub-set of Goth, Skinny Puppy actually deserve better than to be lumped in with the posturing, PVC-clad fashion-victims that populate that particular cultural ghetto - they are a far more interesting band than they are given credit for. Ahead of their time both in their use of that signifier of 90's leftfield electronica, the distorted beat (staple of labels like Praxis, Position Chrome, Ambush and DHR), and in the ultra-complex editing and intricate, layered detail of their music (later taken up by IDM acts such as Richard Devine), Skinny Puppy rarely adhered to conventional song-structures, preferring to create their own unique freewheeling forms that combined dense musique-concrète sample-collages, near-Japanese-levels of Noise abuse, and ranting heavily-processed vocals with pounding mechanised beats and throbbing bass sequencers. They very much stood apart from other comparable bands at the time. Whereas Front 242 were simply producing synthpop-on-steroids, and Ministry churning out straightforward speed-metal riffage with a few extra clangs, Skinny Puppy's sample-heavy, information-overload aesthetic remains unique (although you could draw parallels with the then-contemporary experimental plunderphonics scene). Of the barrage of late-80's, second-generation Industrial acts, only Godflesh came close to what they were trying to do - although, ironically, Godlesh's slow, sludgy post-(early)Swans grind was about as far from Skinny Puppy's convulsive sample cut-ups as you could hope for. Yet they both shared a desire to tap into the roots of Industrial - before it was taken over by Goths, commodified and re-packaged as cartoonish melodrama and pantomime angst. Although Puppy can't entirely stand clear of these kinds of accusations - the vocals in particular often sound too hammily Grand Guignol for contemporary tastes (though you can't discount an element of deliberate camp in their style) - their music did retain the experimental edge of late-70's bands such as SPK and Nurse With Wound. Unlike blatantly commercial, crowd-pleasing acts such as KMFDM or NIN, they weren't out to be liked. You won't find any saccharine synth-pop harmonies or FM-rock riffs embedded in verse/chorus song-forms here - in fact, at a time when the genre was dumbing down, Skinny Puppy replied by producing their most complex, inaccessible work to date (albums such as 'Too Dark Park' and 'Last Rights'). Too often dismissed as the grandfathers of MOR, corporate stadium-rock goons like Marilyn Manson and Rammstein (whose music is actually closer to Bon Jovi than it is to bands such as SPK and Skinny Puppy), they have had a real, if little acknowledged, influence on the darker end of IDM and breakcore. Cutting-edge producer Richard Devine is a fan - and included one of their albums in a recent list of top-ten favourite records - and it is impossible to listen to albums such as Panacea's 'Low Profile Darkness' or Venetian Snare's 'Doll Doll Doll' without hearing their influence. A remarkable band on many levels, they deserve better than to be consigned to the aesthetic wasteland that they now inhabit. Check out the 'Too Dark Park' and 'Viviect Vi' albums for more of their best work.
Noisy, experimental and intelligent with a joyous absence of the cliched rock guitar that often hinder later Skinny Puppy albums. Lyrically, Skinny Puppy peak on this album too, they don't care that half their audience might not know what their on about. If only they could produce another album like this that completely shuns the commercial market and gives free reign to their dark imaginations and musical experimentaion.