After listening to a Skinny Puppy record, one feels as if having been yelled at by an angry parent. Dark moods, riddled with an irritation that either leaves you speechless or that you can completely identify with. There is no middle ground with this band. From early on, Skinny Puppy made anxiety-filled records about things such as animal rights, AIDS, and deforestation, all set into a menacing bed of electro beats.
Skinny Puppy began as a side project back in the early 1980s, in the frozen tundra of Vancouver, and was started by cEvin Key (Kevin Crompton) and a singer called Nivek Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie). Call them an acquired taste: their live shows were horror-themed.
Key and Ogre were the only constant members in a loose association of random players. The two may have been the first to go commercial with the genre that would ultimately come to be known as electro-industrial. They were among the earliest to mix samples with noise, ambient, and rock, and they put out several albums before they disappeared off the radar in 1996 after the release of The Process. By then, they’d relocated to Malibu. But life in the sunshine only seemed to exacerbate the band’s inner nervousness and drug abuse.
- Saturday, January 25, 2014, 8 p.m.
House of Blues,
1055 Fifth Avenue,
$26.50 - $79.60
Ogre and Key didn’t officially come back until 2003. The next year, they released The Greater Wrong of the Right, which was reissued this year by Metropolis Records on both digital and vinyl. Now touring behind 2013’s Weapon, there is no need to worry that time and sensibility has dulled the message. Their new music sounds a bit dated, but remember that Key and Ogre pretty much invented the genre that made Nine Inch Nails possible. A cult-supported band that never got the recognition they deserved, Skinny Puppy is now ancient in music-industry terms but they are still very much alive, and they are still scary. Very scary.