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Ain't It Dead Yet?

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Album Review

Somewhat notorious for the curious and sometimes botched nature of its presentations — CD releases as one track straight through, incorrect song titles, and more — Ain't It Dead Yet is still a solid enough live recording of Skinny Puppy from an enthusiastic Toronto crowd in 1987. Drawing on songs up through Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate, it's sort of a greatest-hits on-stage, but while the audio version can't show the theatrics which helped the band achieve its notoriety, the thick collage of noise, beats, and seething emotion doesn't hold back. Nivek Ogre treated his voice live just as thoroughly as he did in studio, with distorted snarls on "Anger" and "Assimilate." The overall arrangements from cEvin Key and R. Dwayne Goettel, meanwhile, showed just how much of a live proposition Skinny Puppy was from the start — for all of their studio ability and emphasis on electronics, there was something truly visceral that the band could easily bring out live. The live drums often cut through the textures with brutal force, as do the often thick, distorted guitar parts, while on "Draining Faces" (mislabeled as "Brap") free-form metallic collages call to mind a factory gearing up to tear everything apart. Ogre, though sometimes not as harrowing as in the studio, still provides an essential voice of humanity pushed to the edge. Yet for all this, there's also the surprising and often underrated delicacy from the studio work audible as well — it can be heard in the almost soothing keyboards on the chorus behind Ogre for "Addiction" and "Dig It," a touch of beauty amid horror. Notable tracks include a fantastic rip through "One Time One Place" (mis-credited as "God's Gift Maggot" on earlier printings), and a solid take on the already established early classic "Smothered Hope" as the closer.

Biography

Formed: 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Drawing from the pioneering work of artists like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and Suicide, the dark avant-industrial group Skinny Puppy formed in 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally a duo comprised of former Images in Vogue drummer cEvin Key (born Kevin Crompton) and Nivek Ogre (aka Kevin Ogilvie), Skinny Puppy followed their debut cassette,...
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