Thursday, January 29, 2009

Worlock - Skinny Puppy

In 1989, the same year that Nine Inch Nails crashed the industrial party with its excellent debut Pretty Hate Machine, a lesser-known Canadian group known as Skinny Puppy dropped their sixth album, Rabies. While much harsher and tougher, Rabies was also much weaker. But “Worlock,” a luscious, sinister nugget, far outshone anything else on Rabies. It ranks as one of Skinny Puppy’s best songs, and therefore by definition, is one of the best productions in all of industrial music.

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.)


Ildewoodarian said...

Gaah, what am I reading ? Rabies, weak ??? No, no, no, NOOOOOO!!!


Excuse me but I'm a huge fan of this record, the first Skinny Puppy record I've listened, and one of my favourites (even though my favourite is Last Rights). I love every track, especially the first four, an of course "Worlock", but also "Tin Omen"... This record is so harsh, hot and insane... I love it :P

Uncle Spike said...

Granted, "Tin Omen" is a good song, and I do have a soft spot in my heart for "Rivers," but the rest just kinda passed me by.
Still, "Hexonxonx" and "Fascist Jockitch" deserve to share some sort of "brilliantly twisted song title of the year" award.

Idlewoodarian said...

Yeah those song titles are crazy ! I love "Hexonxonx", I wonder what they meant by that...

Though, I recognize Rabies is not the best Skinny Puppy album. Last Rights is amazing.

fønling said...

Exxon spill hexxonxonx is how he spells in on the greater wrong of the right live

del2xu said...

I can understand why some may really enjoy Rabies, but it is universally hated by "purist" - for lack of a better word - Skinny Puppy fans. The sound was a blatant attempt to match the sound that Ministry popularized during the time, we'll call it metal for the sake of argument. NIN even did this exact same move with Halo 5, Broken. So it was forced and a huge leap away from the SP sound that long-time fans had grown to love.
The album was a slap in the face to fans wanting an earnest SP album, and the first sign that one of the pioneers of a once completely underground genre were adjusting their music in order to attract more attention.

But again, I totally get why someone newer to Skinny Puppy and/or the amalgalmous sound that industrial has evolved into would love it. :)

SharChi said...

Two Time Grime. Incredible SP track, skipped over in most reviews of Rabies & wider discogs. Go back and enjoy :)