Ministry

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Ministry – Rantology (2005)

Ministry - Rantology (Cover)This is a curious Ministry release. It’s made up from a number of ‘alternate versions’, a couple of non-album rarities, plus some previously-released album and live tracks. It’s labelled ‘The Definitive Collection’, which is a little wide of the mark to say the least. The alternate versions are mainly of trivial interest, changing some of the key samples and tweaking some of the mixes (not necessarily for the best), but leaving the songs largely intact. The only notable changes are the addition of more choral parts to ‘No W’ and bagpipes to ‘Unsung’.

The album version ‘waiting’ and ‘Animosity’ serve as no more than padding – both tracks are already likely to be in any Ministry fans collection, whilst the three live tracks are all generally weaker than their recorded counterparts. Of the two new songs, ‘The Great Satan’ is a fairly straightforward industrial metal blast, whilst ‘Bloodlines’ is at least distinctive – a ‘So What’ variant recorded for the Activision ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ game, it tends further towards a post-punk/gothic rock sound than anything heard from the Ministry camp to date.

Ministry – Side Trax (2004)

Ministry - Side Trax (Cover)A useful collection of Al Jourgensen’s one-off side projects (as opposed to Lard and RevCo, both of whom produced a number of albums). The Fugazi collaboration ‘Pailhead’ sounds a bit like a six-track garage jam, though Paul Barker’s bass is a highlight – more audible hear that on most Ministry studio tracks. The highlight of the four 1000 Homo DJ tracks is of course the illicit Trent Reznor collaboration, covering Black Sabbath’s ‘Supernaut’, the other three sounding like Al Jourgensen studio outtakes.

The PTP tracks are distantly reminiscent of the ‘Twitch’ sound, more electronic than anything produced by Ministry at the time, though they don’t amount to much more that fairly typical Wax Trax-school industrial. The Cabaret Voltaire colab ‘Acid Horse’ is also predominantly electronic, though the two versions (one produced by each component band) make for an interesting comparison. The compilation as a whole is still more of a curio than a collection of great undiscovered tracks, but it’s still interesting to hear Al and Paul’s work outside the confines of Ministry, and some of the tracks do have at least minor classic status in the right industrial circles.

Ministry – Sphinctour (2002)

Ministry - Sphinctour (Cover)The second Ministry live album, covering the Filth Pig tour from 1996, six years prior to the release of this CD. For this reason, it’s not really of interest to anyone except the completist – sound quality isn’t great and the setlist (dating from a tour promoting their weakest album) could have been better, too. Generally, this seems to been issued by Ministry’s new label as a filler until Al and co could get the next album out. If you must know what Ministry are like live, there really is no substitute for going to see them.

Ministry – Greatest Fits (2001)

Ministry - Greatest Fits (Cover)An almost-needed compilation of the best-known Ministry tracks to date (ignoring the first two, long-since disowned albums). The only glaring omissions are ‘Burning Inside’ and ‘The Fall’ (and there would have been space for both on the CD), though the inclusion of ‘So What’ (in a live version admittedly) injects a little variety into proceedings, as the rest of the CD is generally non-stop industrial strength riffology. Getting side-project 1000 Homo DJs hit ‘Supernaut’ is also a bonus.

Ministry – Twelve Inch Singles (1987)

Ministry - Twelve Inch Singles (Cover)A further sample of early Ministry, an American new-wave band that no-one could have imagined would become one of the centrepieces of the still-emerging industrial scene. An interesting listen, but somewhat patchy, with some dull remixes padding out an potential EP to album length. Later supersceded by the ‘Early Trax’ compilation.

Ministry – Rio Grande Blood (2006)

Ministry - Rio Grande BloodWith two highly able new recruits – Tommy Victor (from Prong) and Paul Raven (of Killing Joke fame), Al Jourgensen unleashes his latest Anti-American bile-fest. Despite the revised back-up team, it’s still the same Ministry who found their touch again on ‘Animositsomina’ and kept the flag burning on ‘Houses of the Mole’. Even by Ministry’s standards, this is a highly political album, incorporating plenty of twisted George W.Bush samples, whilst song titles like ‘Fear (Is Big Business)’ ‘Palestina’ summing up the vibe here without any need to actually spend time interpreting (or at least making out) the lyrics.

Unlike the last album, this disc isn’t an obvious attempt to recapture past glories (even if that attempt was in fact at least partially successful). It’s a proper, self-contained Ministry album, with all the industrial-strength riffology, raspy vocals and jackhammering rhythms you’d expect. There’s relatively few attempts at being ‘clever’ – some drill-sergeant contributions feature in ‘Gangreen’, ‘Lieslieslies’ is surprising tuneful in it’s own way, whilst closing ‘Khyber Pass’ featuring some Middle Eastern flavoured wailing from Liz Constantine. Generally, Al and co stick to what they do best, dishing up one of the most consistent Ministry albums in years. Nothing really new, but let’s just say after a couple of listens I was itching for a mosh pit. In Ministry terms, that’s a success.

Ministry – Houses Of the Molé (2004)

Ministry - Houses of the MoléA viscous, seething incendiary of an album, laden with anti-‘W’ sentiment, and exactly what any hot-blood Ministry fanatic might have hoped for. ‘No W’ turns ‘O Fortuna’ into a breakneck-pace rework of ‘Psalm 69’, ‘Waiting’ is reminiscent of ‘NWO’, whilst ‘WTV’ offers us ANOTHER ‘TV’ song. ‘Wrong’ revisits the old sludgy bassline concept with a degree of proficiency, and concluding song ‘Worm’ offers a hint of RevCo to round things off. Admittedly, some of the songs are little TOO close to old favourites for comfort, though if they had do a thinly-veiled remake of old songs, they at least picked the right ones.

Ministry – Animositisomina (2003)

Ministry - Animositisomina (Cover)A partial return to form for Ministry. The energy is back in there, and the album hits harder and cuts deeper as a result. Particularly impressive is the opening trio of ‘Animosity’, ‘Unsung’ and ‘Piss’, the three of them delivered with the intensity of a band clearly desperate to convey the message ‘We’re Back!’.

What it doesn’t have is any real stand-out tracks in the style of ‘Stigmata’ or ‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod’, though the Magazine cover version ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’ comes close. The later tracks see Ministry indulging themselves more and more with extended song length and odd structures, with varied results. It’s still good to have them back, though.

Ministry – Dark Side Of The Spoon (1999)

Ministry - Dark Side Of The Spoon (Cover)This album was three years in the making, and is at least slight improvement on it’s predecessor. It’s still nothing special compared with Ministry’s early work, but at least the big riffs sound purposeful once more, most notably on the track ‘Bad Blood’, well known for it’s appearance on the Matrix soundtrack. ‘Supermaniac Soul’ also shows some teeth, though suffers from thin production, making it a song best enjoyed live.

The slow tracks also manage to carry a little bit of atmosphere this time, though they don’t leave any lasting impression, with ‘Whip And Chain’ in particular sounding confused and directionless. It’s almost as if they realise the mistakes they made on ‘Filth Pig’, but are being too self-conscious in terms of solving the problem.