Rabies (Skinny Puppy album)

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Rabies (1989) cover.jpg
Studio album by Skinny Puppy
Released November 21, 1989
Recorded 1988–1989,
Studio Vancouver (Vancouver Studios) & Chicago (Chicago Trax Studios)
Length 40:51 (vinyl and cassette versions)
60:54 (CD version)
Label Nettwerk
Producer David Ogilvie, Alien Jourgensen & cEvin Key
Skinny Puppy chronology
Too Dark Park
(1990)Too Dark Park1990
Singles from Rabies
  1. "Tin Omen"
    Released: 1989
  2. "Worlock"
    Released: 1990

Rabies is the fifth studio album by Skinny Puppy. It was released on November 21, 1989 through Nettwerk.[1][2] In 1993 the CD edition was reissued by Nettwerk to correct mastering errors in the original release.[2]

The album notably features Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen (credited as Alien Jourgensen) and offers a more guitar-oriented sound. The cover art was made by longtime Skinny Puppy collaborator Steven R. Gilmore.[2]

Recording and production[edit]

Most of the band's previous albums had been mixed and produced by the group's "fourth member" Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. For Rabies, lead singer/songwriter Nivek Ogre brought in friend and Ministry frontman, Al Jourgensen. Ogre had met Jourgensen during the recording of the PTP song "Show Me Your Spine" in 1987. Ogre later toured with Ministry (Ogre can be seen and heard on the In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up video and CD) and would also go on to provide vocals for Jourgensen's side project Revolting Cocks.[3][4] The other two members of Skinny Puppy, cEvin Key (drummer) and Dwayne Goettel (keyboardist/synthesist), did not approve of Jourgensen's takeover, creating a "glacial coldness" between the band members.[5][6] A couple years following the release of Rabies, Key mentioned to Alternative Press that he believed Jourgensen's motive for assisting in the album's production was to try and break up Skinny Puppy.[6]

Much of the album had been written before Jourgensen was officially involved, though Key has mentioned that the process was influenced by the notion that Jourgensen might join them in the studio to "jam." The group took into consideration what type of music Jourgensen would be interested in making, thus writing guitar heavy material such as "Tin Omen,"[6] a song which makes reference to the Tianamen Square protests of 1989.[7] "Fascist Jock Itch," also written with Jourgensen in mind,[6] was inspired by an incident between Ogre and a few skinheads. Ogre states that he had been approached by the skinheads who then proceeded to question him regarding his "loyalty towards communism" (prompted by a small Red star on his pants). Feeling threatened, Ogre pushed one of them away and a short scuffle ensued.[4] Other songs on the album, such as "Worlock" and "Choralone," have been described as being more "pure" to previous Skinny Puppy material.[6] The song "Hexonxonx," a song which criticizes the use of oil (written in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989),[8] has been described as being an exemplary mixture of "twisted humor and Throbbing Gristle-like experimentation", while other entries from the album have been noted for their novel use of sampling.[9]

The song "Worlock" has been played on every tour after its conception. A Roland Harmonizer was used to create the vocoder-effect during the chorus. Samples of the song "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles are mixed with an excerpt of Charles Manson singing the song;[10] the excerpt comes from the 1973 documentary Manson.[11]

Release and promotion[edit]

The original CD release on Nettwerk (and the licensed version on Capitol) was mistakenly mastered with Dolby B noise reduction, which resulted in a muffled sound. In 1993, the album was digitally remastered and re-released on Nettwerk.[2]

Only one promotional video was produced for Rabies. The "Worlock" video was primarily a rhythmically edited string of horror movie clips featuring outtakes and clips from the band's earlier video, "Stairs and Flowers" (from the album Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse). The video, which opens with a "Rated X" graphic, was intended to be a critique of the concept of censorship in America.[4] Many of the movie clips featured in the video were from films made by controversial Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, whose work has a reputation for being heavily censored by US distributors in order to gain "R-Ratings" from the MPAA.[12] For the "Worlock" video Skinny Puppy included footage deleted from the US versions of such Argento films as Deep Red, Suspiria, Tenebrae, Phenomena, and Opera. Other films included in the music video include, The Beyond, Hellraiser II, Bad Taste, Dead and Buried, Luther The Geek, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, From Beyond, Death Warmed Up, Eraserhead and Altered States.

Due to the graphic violence of the horror film clips used in the video, and also copyright violations, "Worlock" was subsequently banned by MTV, and did not receive any television airplay.[13] In 1992, Skinny Puppy released a compilation of their music videos, but "Worlock" was noticeably absent. According to Nettwerk, the video was omitted partially due to copyright problems and also because of concern the video would be banned by other countries which might find the video's content obscene.[citation needed] However, in recent years the video has been widely bootlegged among fans on the Internet. "Backing" videos for "Tin Omen" and "Choralone" were produced for the Too Dark Park tour in 1990, and have also been spread on the Internet.

A limited run of promotional mechanical pencils were made and sent to college (and possibly other) radio stations along with the album. Shaped like a syringe the pencils were white with black lettering "SKINNY [PUPPY]" and white on black lettering "RABIES". They were approximately 4 inches in length.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[9]
Sputnikmusic3/5 stars[14]

Since the album's release, reception from both critics and fans has been mixed. It has been stated that Rabies is more of a Skinny Puppy/Ministry hybrid and does not necessarily represent the group's best work.[6]

Tim DiGravina from Allmusic stated that Rabies was a solid release, even though he felt the band was not performing "at their peak". He goes on to praise the album's implementation of movie dialogue, particularly commending its use in the songs "Worlock", "Tin Omen", and "Rivers". DiGravina was, however, less impressed by Jourgensen's contributions, asserting that the same qualities which made The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste a good album were not suitable for Rabies.[9] Trey Spencer from Sputnikmusic was less favorable, calling the record one of the group's "low points". He was critical of the album's use of simple (and sometimes "formless") song structures and claimed that the sampling brought nothing meaningful to the table. Spencer was more receptive to the song "Worlock", calling it the band's "defining moment", but concludes by saying that "the rest of the album consists of two good Industrial Metal songs, three average songs, and five songs that aren’t worth wasting your time on".[14]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Skinny Puppy.

1."Rodent" 5:48
3."Two Time Grime" 5:38
4."Fascist Jock Itch"4:58
6."Rain" 1:26
7."Tin Omen"4:36
9."Choralone" 2:43
Total length:40:51
CD-only bonus tracks
11."Spahn Dirge"16:23
Total length:60:54


  • Nivek Ogre (vocals)
  • cEvin Key (production, engineering, mixing, various instruments)
  • Dwayne Goettel (production, engineering, mixing, various instruments)
  • Dave Ogilvie (production, engineering, mixing, backing vocals)
  • Alien Jourgensen (production, engineering, mixing, guitar, additional vocals)
  • Greg Reely (additional engineering, special thanks)
  • Marc Ramaer (additional engineering, mixing)
  • Ken Marshall (additional engineering)
  • Cyan (vocals and lyrics on "Rain")
  • Keith Auerbach (mixing on "Fascist Jock Itch")
  • Jeff Newell (mixing on "Fascist Jock Itch")


  1. ^ Wolanski, Coreen (2002). "Skinny Puppy: Every Dog Has Its Day". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kern, Jay (2010). Skinny Puppy: The Illustrated Discography (Second Edition). Mythos Press. p. 33. 
  3. ^ Radio, Joe. "Interview: Al Jourgensen and Ogre, 1989". prongs.org. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Gilmore, Steven (1989). "The Peril's of Puppy". Ipso Facto Magazine. No. 7. 
  5. ^ Rabies liner notes
  6. ^ a b c d e f "24 Hours in Vancouver". Alternative Press. No. 35. February 1991. 
  7. ^ Nichols, Kathy. "Skinny Puppy bring politicized industrial, over-the-top theatrics to The Rave (Nov 17, 2015)". Milwaukee Record. Milwaukeerecord.com. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Schiller, Mike. "Skinny Puppy: The Greater Wrong of the Right Live [DVD] (Nov 17, 2005)". PopMatters. popmatters.com. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c Allmusic review
  10. ^ a b Whiteley, Sheila; Sklower, Jedediah (May 13, 2016). Countercultures and Popular Music. Routledge. pp. 105–106. ISBN 9781317158912 – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ a b "Skinny Puppy Samples". Skinny Puppy: Video Samples from Movies and official Bootleg Database. 
  12. ^ Gracey, James (2010). Dario Argento. Oldcastle Books. ISBN 978-1842433188. 
  13. ^ "Banned from MTV: 10 Videos that got the Axe". City Pages. July 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Sputnikmusic review
  15. ^ Cigéhn, Peter. "The Top Sampling Groups List: Skinny Puppy". Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on October 30, 2004. Retrieved 19 July 2016.