I really felt the urge to listen to this lately after picking up the excellent Greater Wrong of the Right DVD. The Process was released in 1995. It was an album rooted in chaos – it took three producers to complete, was recorded amidst environmental and personal disaster, and ended up with one member dead and the other two at loggerheads. One one listen I was hooked, and after hearing their other records, I thought this was the best thing Puppy had ever done. Weirdly, the biggest mental connection I get is actually Pink Floyd’s underrated Momentary Lapse of Reason. Yes, thematically and instrumentally, it’s industrial, but the sense of epic scale and underlying composition is pure Pink Floyd.
Jahya is one of the most arresting opening tracks I’ve ever heard. It starts off with industrial techno pops and crackles, little noises, and then introduces Ogre’s unearthly incantations, a pretty synth piano hook, a crescendo of fierce guitar riffing, more noise and samples, some clanging synthetic beats …
Death. “Spiky, black, hard-edged”, the voice says, before the most monstrous metal riff kicks in over a messy, chaotic wall of techno beats and bleeps, Ogre grunting over the top, some gloriously clashing keyboard sample over the top, then randomly pulling into a catchy chorus. You know Public Enemy vs Anthrax, Bring The Noise? Yeah, like that, but louder.
Candle has always been one of my favourites off this album, and it’s still absolutely gorgeous. What I really notice this time around is the head-bending dubby sub-bass – it’s not really that deep, and that’s what makes it so oppressive – it makes you feel like you’re drowning in it. Pretty acoustic guitars vie with metal riffs for attention, but what’s really spectacular is the synth pads – I’m thinking it’s like Front Line Assembly’s better stuff, but Dwayne Goettel could come up with the goods pretty regularly – tracks like Warlock and Smothered Hope, for instance. The vocals somewhere between singing and shouting are a hallmark of Ogre’s changing style; this was the point where he stopped squeaking like a demented hamster and running it through a ton of effects. It sounds all the better for it. Everything about this track sounds fresh and modern, even 15 years on.
Hardset Head is Skinny Puppy trying to see if those amps really do go up to eleven. The first 50 seconds sound awesome, but once the chorus kicks in, it is the point where the three producers it took to complete the album becomes apparent: it’s just a complete mess.
Cult is a sweet, rather moving rock ballad, Ogre’s slightly off-key vocals stopping it becoming too saccharine – like someone singing on the verge of tears after too much whiskey.