Ever sit back and look at your record collection of a favorite artist and consider which albums are the best? So do we! Rank & File is our way of telling you which albums are great and which ones are garbage (at least in our opinion). There are really no correct answers here, it’s all just a matter of taste, but inevitably, there will be parts of the list that you will completely disagree with, so make sure to let us know how you would rank the albums. Of course, when compiling a ranking system such as this, there have to be some guidelines in place. For Rank & File, they are:
- No E.P.’s (with rare exception)
- No Singles
- No live albums
- No remix albums
- If an artists discography is huge (i.e. Rolling Stones, Prince) only the top 5 will make the cut.
It can be argued that Skinny Puppy is one of the most influential bands of our generation. In spite of their relative obscurity (in the mainstream) Skinny Puppy has helped define and shape the sound of electronic and industrial music for the better part of the last 30 years. With brilliantly crafted electronic soundscapes, innovative song structures and Ogre’s poetic yet socially aware lyrics, Skinny Puppy have created a sound like no other. In celebration of their upcoming 15th studio album Weapon, they’ve undergone the Rank & File treatment. The selections for the list were fairly difficult to make. While our top albums clearly favor the second half of their discography, there are plenty of gems to be found throughout their early work. How would your list of top five Skinny Puppy albums look?
5. Too Dark Park (1990):
I was first introduced to Skinny Puppy by my older sisters (then and really creepy) boyfriend. One day I went down to the apartment they shared to get some lunch with her, and he wanted to show me some of his albums. At the time, I wasn’t really too sure about what music I liked. I was learning about different styles and sounds, but I’m pretty sure all I cared about were bands like Metallica and Slayer. Too Dark Park was one of the records he showed me that day. At first, I’m sure I said something along the lines of “fuck this shit” or “where are the guitars?” When I left that day, I didn’t really give too much of a shit about anything he showed me, but for whatever reason, Too Dark Park stuck in my head. I couldn’t really put my finger on what I liked, but I knew that I did and wanted to hear more…
4. Mythmaker (2007):
Continuing where they left off with The Greater Wrong Of The Right, Mythmaker always sounded more like a companion album than a stand alone effort to me. The one thing I really liked about this album was the combination of the pop-ish sensibilities of the Ohgr project, with all the intricacies of classic Skinny Puppy. In some sense, I imagine it’s more difficult to write music with that type of format in mind. I mean, when your just making sounds in order to make sounds, there doesn’t have to be any order or reason. But when you add a slight amount of pop structure or formatting to that same sound, shit can get really interesting. I’ve always felt that Mythmaker combined those thoughts extraordinarily well. It’s kind of like the industrial answer to Thriller. OK, maybe not but you see where I’m coming from.
3. Rabies (1989):
Shortly after my initial exposure to Too Dark Park, I dove headfirst into everything I could find that was either “industrial” or related. Rabies was one of the first albums that I really did some research with and the first time I realized how important reading liner notes was. When I realized that Al Jourgensen had a hand in this record, I immediatly started to pick up everything I could find that was related to Ministry (1000 Homo DJ’s, Revolting Cocks, etc.) It was then that I learned how special industrial music was. People from bands would get together and collaborate on each others albums or just say “fuck it” and create a new band altogether. The only other instances of mass collaboration and intermingling (that I’m aware of) is found in the jazz world. What a cool fucking idea right? It’s something that (sadly) has gone missing in music recently, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for this record for that reason. Oh, and the album itself is fucking stellar, but that’s kind of a given!
2. The Greater Wrong Of The Right (2004):
By the time I had discovered Skinny Puppy, they had already disbanded for the most part. When they got back together in 2000, I was excited that maybe I would get to finally see Skinny Puppy play live, but I didn’t hold my breath for any new music. But just a few short years later, the band announced The Greater Wrong Of The Right. Finally, I was able to grow musically and move ahead with new music from one of my favorite bands instead of continuously scouring record stores for long out of print and forgotten CD’s and records. I’m sure a lot of fans that had been around for a long time were skeptical of this album at best. After all, this is the first record they made without Dwayne Goettel, who was such a huge part of their sound. Musically, the album still holds up to the earlier work and lyrically, it’s damn near perfect. Sure, it’s a little more on the poppy side of things (similar to Mythmaker) but again, I would argue that that is what makes this record brilliant. I’m sure I’ll get some shit for this album being so high on the list, but fuck it. That’s just how the Rank & File cookie crumbles.
1. The Process (1996):
I’m not sure if putting The Process as my number one album is something that other fans will agree with or think is completely ludicrous. What I do know is that this album fucking owns from beginning to end and there is no real debate to that. The Process is such an interesting record on so many levels. It’s so god damned dark. Really, you can hear the tension seeping out of the recordings. Also (as stated above) this is the last record to feature Dwayne Goettel before he passed away. Who’s to say what might’ve happened had Dwayne lived, but this album sounds like a sonic bridge that’s reaching towards the feel of The Greater Wrong Of The Right, almost like the band knew what was coming. Unbelievably, this album still sounds amazingly relevant and fresh almost 20 years later. Some of the sounds on albums as recent as ’92’s Last Rights feels somewhat dated, but nothing on The Process does. This could have as easily been released last year and no one would be any wiser. Again, the importance of reading liner notes and researching personnel showed up on The Process with Martin Atkins (Pigface, Ritalin, everything else) and Genesis P-Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle) making appearances or influencing the record. Oh, and I finally got my guitars in large quantities!! The Process is a masterpiece of industrial and electronic music, and that’s why it checks in at number 1 on our list.
Just Missed The Cut: Remission (1984), Bites (1985), Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse (1986), Cleanse Fold and Manipulate (1987), VIVIsectVI (1988), Last Rights (1992), Puppy Gristle (2002), HanDover (2011) and Weapon (2013).
What do you think? How would you rank the Skinny Puppy albums? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to follow Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter!