Ministry: the name is synonymous with the second wave(*) of Industrial music. When that wave finally hit the shore - disintegrating into foam, stink and sewage - the beach party was over. Ministry's releases became infrequent and devolved into tired parodies of heavy metal. Thousands of imitators made matters infinitely worse, diluting the genre with their unoriginal rip-offs and weak parodies. Sad.
Ministry's last good album, Psalm 69, featured such audio treasures as Jesus Built My Hotrod, N.W.O. and Just One Fix. Psalm 69, released way back in 1992, was conceived and birthed in times similar to those we face now: a Bush was in office, the US was at war with Iraq and the job market was in the shitter. Now it's year 2003, "Al-Qaeda" Jourgensen & crew are back with a new album and surprisingly the album is not that bad. Coincidence? Maybe - and maybe I'm living in the past, hoping for another great Ministry album so I can relive the "salad days" of my youth. Sad for me - good for Ministry fanatics.
Animositisomina doesn't ooze far from the metal mold Ministry forged with A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste back in 1989: studio-tailored heavy metal guitars, pounding drums, fuzzy/noisy electronics and angry/acerbic lyrics. Envision an even mix of Psalm 69, In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up, and the Lard(**) album The Last Temptation of Reid and you have a good idea of what the Animositisomina experience is all about. The most substantial change that comes with Animositisomina is for the first time you can consistently understand Jourgensen's vocals - shocking, but true, and really a change for the better.
Animositisomina opens with Animosity - a quintessential Ministry song. Furious vocals, locomotive guitars and ear-crushing beats will make you glad you bought the album. Check out these lyrics:
Animosity and common hate
Feeds the hungry on an empty plate
A bitter taste and the promise of pain
Fills you up while the soul is drained!
Damn, Al is pissed off again - Yeah!
Broken is a metallic hillbilly hoedown that sways and chugs and has fun at the expense of suburban, middle class S&M fanatics. "Grab yourself a partner, Swing 'em around the town, Walk the dog and do-se-do, Before you tie her down" - funny stuff. So super freaky. I hope the Revolting Cocks(***) cover Broken.
The real treat for long time Ministry fans comes with the cover of Magazine's The Light Pours Out of Me, which the band has been covering live for the past 15 years (wow! 15 years). The Light is more punk anthem than elecro-fried metal, and the mid-album change of pace is tasty.
Bassist Paul Barker gets a rare turn at the mic on Stolen - and he's every bit as pissed off as Al. Piss is a tribute to anyone who has dreaded mandatory drug testing. Impossible is the sonic equivalent of a Nascar race in the midst of a middle-east war zone: Ministry's guitar work has never been so furious, unforgiving or manic.
Animositisomina ends with Leper, a classic Ministry instrumental dirge - over 9 minutes of crispy-fried electronic hiss, daze-inducing bass loops, manic keyboard solos melting into and concluding with crushing guitars and brutal percussion. Leper is the perfect ending to a fine album by a band I had all but given up on.
(*) The first wave: Throbbing
Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Non, etc. The second wave: Ministry, Nitzer Ebb,
Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly etc.
(**) Lard is a Ministry side-project featuring Dead Kennedy singer Jello Biafra on vocals. Their best albums were The Last Temptation of Reid and The Power of Lard.
(***) Jourgensen's dance party parody band, whose cover of Do You Think I'm Sexy was voted the most popular strip club song of the 1990's.