Photo credit: Emilie Elizabeth & John Kraw
“The human animal is a ‘weapon’,” says SKINNY PUPPPY vocalist niVek ohGr about the eponymous title of their upcoming album (Metropolis Records; release date: May 28, 2013). “Every action and thought, conceived then carried out; whether political, physical or spiritual, has the potential to cause harm and misery; just as the same action, not underwritten with fear and misinformation, but carried by only positive intent would have the opposite effect.”
Standing as a commentary on that which it is named after, Weapon, or more specifically, to the concurrent glorification of the gun culture and simultaneous horror at the devastation guns can cause, the stunning new album tackles the difficult topic in an intelligent and philosophical way without losing track of the music built around it. A return to form of sorts while still pushing forward as Skinny Puppy always has, Weapon is a tour de force whose pop undertones are a compelling counterpoint to the vocals and lyrics that reflect our mass homogenization of an instrument of death into an entertainment centerpiece.
“The human race has been in bondage; boondoggled by the fixed shell game, shill-laden pro lobbyist agenda for nuclear energy,” he continues. “While claiming to be ‘clean energy’, 96% of what comes out is completely foreign to our planet and completely toxic; it is anything but ‘clean’.” It is this sort of intelligent musical discourse that has been Skinny Puppy’s protocol for over three decades. Godfathers of the electro-industrial music scene, Ogre along with cEvin Key have been major voices in issues that plague society, from vivisection to pollution to drugs to even the advent of AIDS. Similarly as our culture dives deeper into the threat of being a firearm-based society, tackling this idea of weaponry as a centralizing focus of society was only natural. “We manufacture weapons … pure and simple,” Ogre explains. “The idea of boiling water to make steam was only the afterthought and a means to sell this Machiavellian weapons program to the populace.”
Kicking off with “wornin’” in all of its midnight dancefloor glory, Weapon combines all the elements of the genre that they trailblazed – fusing elements of electro, new wave, industrial, and rock. “We had some talk about doing an album with only the tools available at that earlier period of ’83,” he says. “What became clear, however, was a need to get back to simple and direct song writing with strong abstract themes that correlate to the deeper concepts within the recording.” From the pulsating rhythm of “illisiT” to the analog synths of “gLowbeL” to the mechanized “tsudanama” with its sonic bends and warps, the album embraces the Skinny Puppy sound wholeheartedly and raises it up a notch. “The disc starts off strong with ‘wornin’ which happened to be the first track that lit the way on this path that became weapon,” he says. “The two songs following [‘iLLisiT’ and ‘salvo’] are two of my favorites for reasons mentioned in the answer above – simple and direct.”
Formed in 1982, Skinny Puppy has gone through many shifts and changes but the duo of cEvin Key and Ogre has always remained constant and consistent. When asked about that consistency, he replies, “The obvious answer being that the two flesh bag components, who first conceptualized Skinny Puppy, are still breathing and eating. What differentiates us perhaps is that we have been lucky to work with very talented artists throughout our careers – fellow bandmate Dwayne Goettel, producers like Dave Ogilvie, Mark Walk, and mixers like Ken Marshall and Adrian Sherwood have aided and helped us contour and hone in our sound; reign in the beast, so to say.”
With a new chapter added to the Skinny Puppy legacy with the upcoming release of this album, the album’s subject manner remains front, center and pronto, as it should. With massacres seemingly occurring with more frequency and gun control still a hot button topic in politics, it’s fitting that it’s a topic they feel needs to be addressed. “Weapons and pharmaceuticals become the last bastion of investment wealth, the last stop for manufacturing in a crumbling power system still promoting mutual assured destruction,” Ogre concludes. “To maim, sicken and control, by genetically radiating and bombing populations back to the Stone Age; then manage the mutations through new medicines while claiming the race for a cure of this self-inflicted environmental disease is right around the corner… Weapons then procure the evolutionary next step. We are weapons.”
Skinny Puppy is niVek ohGr, cEvin Key and Mark Walk. Weapon will be released via Metropolis Records on May 28, 2013.