CLEANSE, the third album from Canada's Skinny Puppy, is chock full of everything that defines the band's ethos--extremely dense backing tracks, loads of samples, growling electronically-distorted vocals, creepy lyrics, and blunt, punctuating beats. The album features a fairly subtle division in the middle. The first half consists of slightly-faster-than-dirge monuments to decay, while the second half serenades decay with brutal, monolithic dance beats.
Skinny Puppy's best tracks focus on specific themes. "The Mourn" addresses medical experimentation. "Second Tooth" deals with military intervention. And the minor dance-floor hit "deep down Trauma Hounds" (the use of lower case is apparently important) is about destruction, both mental and environmental. However, Nivek Ogre's vocal's are often so damaged by electronic manipulation that one can be forgiven for not noticing the words. When the lyric sheet actually says "disembodied guttural voice noise need not make sense," perhaps it is just as well. Musically, the backing tracks are arranged with orchestral precision, combining punishing percussion, extensive use of sequencers, bursts of metallic guitar, and movie and television dialogue samples. Not something to play every day, but great when you need a good sonic head-cleaning.