As one of the pioneers of the industrial movement, Ministry have always danced to the beat of a different drum machine. In recent years the band has been closely connected with the caustic cyber-metal scene, but when Ministry emerged from Chicago in the early 1980s, they had more in common with Kraftwerk. Ministry even toured with Depeche Mode and Culture Club before changing their synth-pop tune in 1986 with the harsh electronics of Twitch. The band abandoned much of their following in the process.
became a recurring theme as the band developed over its next three albums. Ministry's latest record, Filth Pig
, is their most abrasive and metallic yet, a showcase of crunching riffs and disjointed rhythms that exhibits few of the electronic histrionics that once defined the group. But while the record may not be traditionally industrial (aside from distorted vocals and the occasional sample), Ministry maintain the antagonistic industrial ethos with which they were raised. Ever since the late '70s, when Throbbing Gristle first converted the mechanized sounds of the assembly line into low-fi recordings and Einstürzende Neubauten started wielding jackhammers and chain saws onstage, industrial music has thrived on the will to provoke. For Ministry, provocation is a priority that comes just after eating.
Judging by lyrics like "Inside a world full of shit/You're still an asshole to me" ("Reload") and "I sleep with both eyes open" ("Filth Pig"), frontman Al Jourgensen seems to view this country as an increasingly oppressive place, overrun with conservatives trying to take away his individuality. As a result, he seeks to buck the system, to defy expectations and funnel his most carnal, depraved impulses into his inflammatory music. Unlike many industrial-metal artists, whose insurgency is as synthesized as their keyboard lines, Jourgensen is truly a rebel without a pause, as a trail of departed band members and a recent arrest for heroin possession can attest.
But don't write Ministry off as impulsive deviants who churn out albums between flag burnings and fixes. The band is obsessive when it comes to recording, which explains why Filth Pig and the group's last record, 1992's Psalm 69, were delivered well behind schedule. So is Filth Pig the incendiary album that fans have been holding their breath for? Not really. The group's new emphasis on quirky, midpaced time signatures and dense, distorted riffs may prove too metallic for industrial fans and too convoluted for metalheads.
In the past, Ministry administered sharp, simple electronic shocks and memorable guitar bursts. The new disc is far messier, exploding like a shotgun blast and leaving too much damage to take in easily at one time. Syncopated rhythms, layered guitars and overdistorted production abound, providing a menacing atmosphere but very little melody. The record also lacks dynamics. Ins