Skinny Puppy’s trimuphant return after a few years away three years back really was something special. OK, so The Greater Wrong of The Right wasn’t perfect, but it got better on repeated listens and the live show made the return all the sweeter – and perhaps more important still.
So three years on from that, and we are onto the followup album Mythmaker. Much was made in the press of how great this album is, how it is even better etc etc. And unfortunately, on first listen – and indeed subsequent listens – this is in the most part not the case.
Opener Magnifishit, at first glance, sounds lazy and tired – the vocals particularly have none of the usual urgency, instead exuding a weariness that suggests oGhr would rather be anywhere else. The track does improve once you give it a chance, as the skin begins to peel away. Dal. is rather strange – starting with appears to be hip-hop samples of some form, and indeed the song structure appears to be based around a similar style of beat, broken up by sheets of sampled guitar tearing through the chorus.
Haze is very, very wierd indeed – involving sampled birds, vocodered vocals, various percussion and string samples…layer-upon-layer is added, stripped away and then added again in classic SP style. Better still is Pedafly, built around a pounding, rhythmic beat, the usual fog of samples and effects and a driven vocal. Jaher following that – involving acoustic guitars (!) really seems a little strange.
Politikil is again far better, another densely-programmed track that goes off in a number of directions before ending in a headfuck of a multitude of oGhr vocals all stacked on top of each other, each one just out of sync. Lestiduz is another that just passes by, with little to make it stand out, while Pastern again is better. The beats are left bubbling in the background, with emphasis put on the sample layers and vocals – even if it probably would sound more at home on an oGhr solo album…
Ambiantz‘s wierd, skittering beats sound strange, but it seems too much of a rehash of former glories somewhere. The closer Ugli is more like it – twisting and turning through different rhythms, samples, and far more of an urgency than the rest of the album has.
So after all the promises and – frankly, hype – this isn’t what we were promised. While this album undoubtedly has some stellar moments, other parts of the album aren’t fit to be released under the Skinny Puppy name. Are they running out of steam? Difficult to tell. Maybe we need to wait and see what the live environment does to some of the songs, but even then I fear that might not be enough to save this album. Maddeningly inconsistent.