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Skinny Puppy - "hanDover" (CD)

Skinny Puppy - "hanDover" CD cover image

"hanDover" track listing:

1. Ovirt
2. Cullorblind
3. Wavy
4. Ashas
5. Gambatte
6. Icktums
7. Point
8. Brownstone
9. Vyrisus
10. Village
11. Noisex

Reviewed by on December 8, 2011

"Their use of electronic components, as well as the synthetic saturation of OhGr’s voice, creates an ambiance that is both dark and spacey."

Skinny Puppy has enthralled listeners with their patent brand of electronic music for nearly 30 years. The group doesn’t employ a heavy does of computerized guitars like Ministry and Fear Factory, but they blazed the trail for such acts. They are considered the pioneers of electro-industrial music. Their use of electronic components, as well as the synthetic saturation of OhGr’s voice, creates an ambiance that is both dark and spacey. Layers of bewildering blips and beeps continue to define the Canadian group on their latest album “hanDover.”

“Gambatte” shows Skinny Puppy at its most accessible state. The up-tempo beat should make this a new favorite among goth dance clubs. OhGr’s vocal rhythms mesh perfectly with the song’s pulse. He changes his pseudo-narrative style to reflect more of a singing approach when ethereal keys come into play. Of course, the track yields enough electronic experimentation to provide a soundtrack for a Syfy Channel commercial. "Ashas" is one of the slower, milder tracks. The vocal rhythms work hard on the mind's synapses, as do the creaking, old-swing-type sounds.

“Brownstone” is one of the stranger, more unorthodox tracks on the album. The track’s wildly careening knob turning and unbalanced, backward-looping vocal parts reveal the group at its most twisted, wavering like a television losing its signal. Those looking for something more guitar-oriented should look to “Village.” Besides relating a vibe akin to KMFDM, a group very familiar to Skinny Puppy, “Village” contains guitar parts that move in a metallic worm-like way. OhGr once again takes a chameleon approach to his vocals, and voices exclaim “collapse” in a similar manner to the “so what” samples on the Ministry song of the same name.

Nowhere near as harsh as most noise projects, yet containing many of the facets of a noise band, “hanDover” conveys enough darkness and tripped out effects to say this is a “heavy” group. The plethora of sounds that comprise a single track on “hanDover” are truly visual—like sharks shooting lasers from their heads, while malefic keyboards signify a giant mouth opening to swallow the sharks and water in the fashion of a bath drain opening. I’m not sure how this odd version of “Austin Powers” accosted my brain, but listeners will hear “hanDover” and conjure their own strange scenarios.

Highs: "hanDover" contains a trippy, spooky electro-synthesis.

Lows: The album could benefit from more guitar.

Bottom line: Metal purists look elsewhere, while fans of electronic experimentation will find themselves in a "Total Recall" type paradise.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)