As far as popular music goes, “Worlock” is rusted shrapnel to the ears. Moody synths alternately imbue the soundscape like a morbid pea soup fog, then slash at the melody in the chorus (here, the vocals are run through the synthesizers to take on whatever notes are being played). Heavily distorted vocals veer between a near whisper and a howl, and the lyrics on first glance seem stream-of-consciousness random phrases more than anything. (“Wasted views/That’s all they see blue/Hot blood, guilt, optic nerve” begins the first chorus.) For that matter, long-time fans still debate over what the song really is about. Addiction? Anti-animal cruelty? Insanity? Hardly your typical top 40 themes. But does it matter? The exact lyrics may elude dissection, but it’s clear that Nivek Ogre is grappling with some pretty harsh demons, and that intensity is compelling, almost overwhelming.
But as far as industrial music goes, “Worlock” is pretty damn near tuneful and poppy. It follows a simple intro-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-extended chorus-outro structure over the span of five and a half minutes. The chords are all minor, but follow a logical progression. And then there’s that synthesized rhythm section that threatens to goose-step any listener into oblivion - but damned if it isn't catchy as hell. As with many other Skinny Puppy songs, the beat pushes “Worlock” away from the realm of absolute evil and gives it a more accessible sheen.
A perfect amalgam of pop and industrial, “Worlock” is absolutely required listening for any Nine Inch Nails fan, and is an ideal place to start exploring one of industrial music’s most influential and abrasive acts. (But again, Rabies is weak and disappointing as a whole. Download the single instead.)