"The Greater Wrong
Of the Right"
"2 A.M. Wake Up Call"
No doubt this is partially a tribute to the band's influence, but Skinny Puppy's comeback album doesn't sound all that bizarre. One of industrial music's pioneering groups, the Vancouver duo (sometimes a trio) brought heavy-metal attitude and goth ambience to post-disco electronic music, thus helping to motivate Nine Inch Nails and many other confrontational synth acts. The Puppy's first studio album in eight years, "The Greater Wrong of the Right" is a credible but generally unsurprising attempt to catch up with the twosome's former imitators.
"The Greater Wrong of the Right" revisits previous Puppy strategies, but also experiments with such related styles as British garage-rap, notably on "Goneja." More shockingly, some of the songs are actually melodic: "EmpTe" and especially "Past Present" mix strident synths with stately keyboard lines and catchy chorales in the manner of mid-'80s Depeche Mode.
Puppy founders n.Ogre and cEvin Key are still cranky, of course, but even their rage seems a bit backdated: "Neuwerld" mocks a geopolitical phrase, "new world order," associated not with the current U.S. president but with his dad.
As a former member of Nine Inch Nails, Tweaker (aka Chris Vrenna) is forever in Skinny Puppy's debt. Yet his brooding "2 A.M. Wake Up Call" is more song-oriented than Ogre and Key's work, with machine-generated tones often less prominent than guitar, piano and voice. Vrenna and collaborator Chris Walsh enlisted such outsiders as Palace's Will Oldham, Japan's David Sylvian and the Cure's Robert Smith -- who seems to be everywhere these days -- to perform these slow or mid-tempo (but intermittently boisterous) tunes. The album also includes some arty instrumentals, whose timbres tend to be more synthetic. The highlights, however, are such electro-blues ballads as "Truth Is" (the Smith track), whose style is as loungey as it is industrial.
-- Mark Jenkins
Both appearing Tuesday at the 9:30 club. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Skinny Puppy, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8132; to hear Tweaker, press 8133. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)