Video Review: Skinny Puppy and Ministry
With the upcoming CD release of Ain’t It Dead Yet, it might be timely to review the video that spawned that CD.
Not a video to be watched in the dark by yourself—the disturbing qualities of Skinny Puppy’s music are brought to life on stage for the audience to experience first hand. Skinny Puppy’s live performance is enjoyable for the hardcore Puppy fan, as well as being a good introduction to the novice Puppy person. If you are not familiar with their live act, it might take you by surprise. Full of blood and terror, this journey into aesthetic terrorism is an assault on your senses and definition of what is real. Life is full of frightening things with fill the dark corners of Skinny Puppy’s album and performance.
The show begins with Ogre behind a screen playing out a demented puppet show, blood spattering the screen, emerging looking like a car crash victim. Ogre continues to cover himself with more blood, fire, ash and paper throughout the show. He lights candles, lights himself, sings to a decapitated head, dons rubber gloves, pulls out his intestines and wraps them around his neck, is violently shot by a catatonic third party and torments a dismembered body covered in carrots on a makeshift wooden cross—a television where the head used to be.
Skinny Puppy’s music has always had a visual element, and they encapsulate that within their live performance, mixing horror, sound and samples layered over subtle and graphic violence. But screw art … Let’s kill! If you picked up Issue 35 of Alternative Press, you have some idea of how Skinny Puppy’s live show has evolved—splicing film footage of deaths and real-live horrors to fit specific songs. Writing music from sound captured in daily escapades. Cevin Key and Dwayne Goettel provide the soundtrack for this frightening vision. With sequencers, eery, gothic-feeling keyboards, retching guitars and pounding drums, the other two Puppy’s hands in the background, literally adding sparks and energy as they build textures of noise and rhythms for Ogre’s distorted and effected vocals. Sound builds on sound as images come to life before our eyes.
Skinny Puppy’s video fills the eyes and ears and grabs at your throat as you watch it. It is an experience worth watching.
Along these same lines is Ministry’s “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up,” a video for those too afraid to see the band live. Capturing the best elements of their The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste tour, the video boasts a star-studded cast from the alternative music scene and features Al Jourgensen, Paul Barker, Chris Connelly and Bill Rieflin (of RevCo fame), Martin Atkins (Killing Joke), Ogre, Mike Scacia (from Rigor Mortis), as well as other friends of Jourgensens’ from the Chicago music scene. Also, Jello Biafra appears in a special spoken word segment where he offers his “Flag Pledge.”
The raw energy of Ministry is captured on video, but the audience is fairly mellow.—a bunch of sissies when compared to the Salt Lake crowd, skippin’ in front of the fence and making fools of themselves. There’s little fence climbing, no flipping-off of Jourgensen and his mates and very little excitement projected from the band-watchers. The band is the focal point and exudes energy from the stage in both their music and action. This is best captured as Atkins and Reiflin drum up a storm at the beginning of “Breathe.” Two drummers, bass, keys and God only knows how many guitars and vocals fill your aural senses and hammer on your head until you are ready to either break or join the fun.
All in all, this is a great vision of Ministry “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up.” But next time, get off your butt and see them live.
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