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Ohgr, “Devils In My Details”

Ohgr

Buried inside of me is a die hard Skinny Puppy fan that simply will not go away. In my youth, Skinny Puppy could do no wrong. I was so excited about “The Process” that I even forgave some of the extremely weak moments on the disc simply because it was new Skinny Puppy material. You know, I forgave it even though it scarcely sounded like a Skinny Puppy record. But, I was a fan. I owned the whole catalog, had most of the singles and B-sides, and even owned some weird collector’s stuff. I even helped run the first big Skinny Puppy website. It is sufficient to say that had I never discovered Skinny Puppy, my musical world may never widened the way it did.

So what happened? Well, for one, my musical tastes evolved. I grew up a bit, quit being such a damned rivethead, and frankly, my tastes mellowed. Well, they got mellow and they got extreme, but extreme where the likes of Skinny Puppy would never go. Even cEvin Key’s Download project got too weak for me, after the departure of Mark Spybey, the last interesting component after the death of Puppy keyboardist Dwayne Goettel.

In comes a new decade and this Skinny Puppy revival. Ogre releases long awaited solo material as ohGr, and new Puppy albums start to arrive. I can’t say I enjoyed any of it too much. Ohgr’s first disc, “Welt”, was kind of a winner to me, despite it not living up to expectations. But, it isn’t fair to critique works based on expectations. I enjoyed the pop hooks and clever vocal processing. Honestly, I like the new singing Ogre more than the old tortured grunting Ogre.

It seems clear that “Devils In My Details” is an attempt to go back to the old, gritty Skinny Puppy styling. This is great, in my opinion, but it is not handled with the best effect on this record. For one, where is the confident Ogre vocal mix I was getting used to? The vocal work is really mushy and quiet. I love how it sounds when I can hear it, but it really is very quiet and muddy. I normally think Mark Walk is a very high quality producer, having enjoyed other albums he engineered like the Ruby album, so I have to suspect this low mix is intentional and not oversight. I simply can’t see what the point is, as it makes some of the songs really irritating to listen to. There are also a few tracks with annoying refrains, taking this demonic pop sensibility into a territory that is too silly and goofy to even redeem it as good tongue-in-cheek music. Think of David Tibet’s “rapping” on Current 93’s, “Crowleymass“. I liked the tongue-in-cheek on previous Ohgr outings, it just seems a little over played on a few of the tracks here.

Bear in mind, I say these things even though I think this is a great album. I will invariably listen to it on rotation for a long time. It has some great songs that have intense atmospheric depth, interesting IDM elements buried in the back, as well as memorable catches and great play-ability  It is a nice throw back to the old Skinny Puppy sounds of albums like “Too Dark Park” and “Last Rights” mixed subtly with the older Ohgr albums. However, since it has so many serious faults, what will happen is individual songs will quickly get chopped from my playlists and I’ll end up only listening to the same three songs forever. If you’re a fan of Skinny Puppy, new or old, you absolutely should check out this album and form your own opinion. Chances are good you will enjoy it, faults and all. If you’re a fan of older gritty styles of industrial music, it might also be a worthwhile investment of your time and cash.

Daniel Tuttle
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Daniel Tuttle

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