Title: Devils in My Details
Release Date: October 17th 2008 (Europe) / October 21st 2008 (USA/CAN)
Label: SPV Records (Germany)
To some it may be a surprise that Kevin Ogilvie aka Ogre releases a new album with his side-project ohGr while his main band, SKINNY PUPPY, is also busy recording a new album too. Well, it seems to be a very productive period in the SKINNY PUPPY camp, and for all fans the new ohGr album ‘Devils In My Details’ is a nice way to kill time until the release of the next Skinny Puppy long-player.
But of course the third ohGr album is much more than just filler. It’s a psychedelic journey and musical challenge, something you can’t playback for mere entertainment but rather something which invites for a close listening for the real experience. The first two ohGr albums are often described as being more accessible that the SKINNY PUPPY works, and with ‘Devils In My Details’ ohGr leaves this behind. There’s been always a sense of weirdness in ohGr’s output - how could it be anything else with people like Ogre and long-time-collaborator Mark Walk (Pigface) behind it? But with ‘Devils In My Details’ this sense is becoming stronger. Ogre and Mark Walk deliver a conceptual work which is organized chaos, which challenges the listener and takes him on a trip full of extremes and surprises. Just when you think you would know where the respective track will take you, ohGr simply surprises you by giving the music an unexpected turn.
The title of the first song of the album is already misleading. ‘Shhh’ is not a quiet lullaby at all - the high-speed shuffle drums are like a bulldozer, complemented by hysterical strings, sudden breaks and Ogre’s heavily distorted voice. Some kind of freaky cyber rockabilly. And if you think the rest of the album would offer more speed driven, heavy stuff you are wrong again! With ‘Eyecandy’ the tempo and mood falls down into a dark pit, and when the edgy bass line comes in it’s like staggering out of this pit. Ogre’s voice is less distorted now for most of the track, but then his voice doesn’t need distortion to sound demoniac. The third song is aptly titled ‘Three’ and is again from one extreme to the next. Starting with sample speed metal guitars the song falls soon apart and becoming dark ambient tracks instead of becoming, as expected, a martial sonic attack. Sampled chicken lead into ‘Feelin’ Chicken’ - strange, the only time ohGr do something obvious it’s simply super-weird, hehe - and ‘Feelin Chicken’ becomes soon a weird waltz with vaudeville feel to it. ‘Devils In My Details’ continues as a musical rollercoaster, sometimes almost lulling you to sleep just to wake you up just in time.
‘Pepper’ starts with a noise but evolves into a rather dreamy, melodic song. The following and only 1:23 minute long ‘D.Angel’ thwarts this false sense of security with heavily treated guitars and drums, which are further processed in ‘Psychoreal’, which is a SKINNY PUPPY feeling to it, circa ‘The Process’ era. The maniacal and claustrophobic ‘Whitevan’ features a spoken-word performance of actor Bill Moseley (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”) and is followed by the single release ‘Timebomb’ - what an odd choice for a single! Not the most accessible song of the album, to say the least, although the melodic piano clanging (again with a certain vaudeville feel) has its charm. But it’s proceeded by a full minute of dark soundscapes and accompanied by enough distortion. Great song, though I’m not sure that this might make it high up the Billboard charts. After the droning noise of ‘Smogharp’ the album is finished with ‘Witness’, the most epic song of the album.
This album is truly a psychedelic trip, the devils are truly in the details as there’s so much to discover in each and every track. A perfectly crafted and arranged album which cannot deny the musical cousinhood to Skinny Puppy but which also picks up endless other elements from cabaret to 1970s progressive rock. Often it seems that there are two (or more!) songs coalesced to one but the best thing is anyway to listen to this album in one go. It’s hard to tell where a song begins and ends anyway, and it seems as if 45minutes of music were arbitrarily broken down to eleven tracks. A very challenging but rewarding musical journey – those who survived should keep their fingers crossed that ohGr will bring this to the stages soon! ;-)
04. Feelin' Chicken