Friday, March 5, 2010

Ministry: A Love/Hate Relationship

I was 16 and jammed in the backseat of a 4 door car in the bitch seat. (There's no irony in the fact that I'm usually stuck in the middle seat - more frequently called bitch - and that I'm rather bitchy myself.) The song that played through the speakers interested me, but I didn't know what it was. I looked around the cluttered back seat and found a CD with a black cover and a sketchy winged figure on it.

The band: Ministry.

The album: Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs, or Psalm 69 for short.

Psalm 69 was too industrial to contain the more melodic song I heard on the radio; to this day, I don't know what song I initially heard and can no longer remember the tune. But because of that three minutes driving down Route 9, I developed a 15 year plus relationship with Al Jourgensen and Ministry.

Ministry is very industrial in their sound with incredibly fast drums, loud crashing guitar riffs, and the extra noises that permeate standard industrial music. Psalm 69 wasn't the exception, and was the peak of Ministry's popularity.  Jesus Built My Hotrod* was all over MTV reportedly. (I didn't have cable until I hit drinking age, so I can't confirm this.) People I've met who don't even listen to industrial music admit to owning this album.


What's interesting about Ministry is the progression they made into the industrial market.When they formed the early 80s, they were a synthpop outfit.While both synthpop and industrial have similarities because of the electronic elements, the sound is different.

Synthpop is more dancey and, regardless of the subject matter, has a lighter feel to it.

 














So even if the progression from synthpop to industrial is logical, not every band who fit into that music genre fell into the darker, angrier sound. I mean, can you picture A-ha doing an industrial version of Take On Me?

Because of their transition from synthpop to industrial, I love them. Depending on my mood, I'll listen to their earlier albums more than the industrial and Everday is Halloween is my ring tone. My love spans from their debut album With Sympathy and stops at Houses of the Mole.

And turns to hate.

I don't like when politics gets infused into my music. At least, I don't like when it hits me over the head with it. Al Jourgensen did that starting with Houses of the Mole all the way to The Last Sucker, all anti-Bush propaganda music. It was fast. Loud. And filled with G. W. soundbites.

I like to enjoy my music, not hear a political statement. (Even if I agree with it.) Because of the hardcore political overtones of the last few albums, I found it hard to enjoy the later albums. Musically, they were more thrash-based as well, and I'm not too keen on thrash metal. Yes, there are exceptions, but Ministry isn't one of them.



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*On the studio version, the beginning of the song says "Jerry Lee Lewis is the devil," which is much better than saying Jesus is.

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