Ministry - "Dark Side of the Spoon"
By Dan Century
Oh, I get it, a heroin
I remember the first time I heard Ministry. It was late
1989, around X-mas time. My best friends and I had gathered at Christinas
house for Mrs. Posts delicious chocolate-chip cookies and bad movies
(Shaft, Eraserhead, Mystery Science Theater type stuff). Around 5am we decided
to call it a night. It was my job to drive everyone home lucky me. Back
in the day I had a black Ford Escort station wagon, perfect for pet funerals
and chauffeuring weary friends. My last passenger was Tom, who lent me a
Ministry cassette to keep me awake. You like hard core
youll like this, is just about what he said. I popped the cassette
in the stereo and my life changed forever.
When I woke the next day I was the biggest Ministry fan in
the world. I went out and bought Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a
Terrible Thing to Taste and any Wax Trax! Al Jourgensen side project* I
could find. Ah, the good old days back when vinyl was still alive! Huge
12 album jackets with awesome artwork and occasional extras like the
sheet of Acid Horse stamps that came with the record. The old Wax
Trax! singles even had their own smell (I kid you not).
Between 89 and 92, it seemed like there was a new Ministry
single or side project every month. It was awesome for fans with addictive
tendencies like me. Jourgensen kept making them and I kept buying and
this was quality music the kind of music that would make a dance floor
explode, or make a party happen. Of course, that was then, and this is
When Filth Pig hit the shelves back in 1996, with a
cover that looks like Late Night talk geek Conan OBrien with a slab of
veal on his head, it was clear that Ministrys days of dance floor mad
scientist mayhem were over. Ministry, for the first time, were trying to sound
like a band a slow, grinding, rock band. I cant fault a band for
trying to change their sound, and no musician has worn more musical masks than
Jourgensen, however this disguise or experimentation was a failure. Blame what
you want: drugs or detox, divorce, the absence of Bill Rieflin, Chris Connelly,
or Ogre, turmoil and tragedy at Wax Trax! or Texas ultimately it was the
album that Ministry wanted to make at that point in time. I bought it...and
returned it the same day.
OK, so its 1999 and Ministry has poured three years of
life into their latest album Dark Side of the Spoon. At a time when
every band is either banal, tootie-fruitie, or trying too
hard to be hard, it would be perfect for Ministry to step in and rule the
world. That would be the case...if Dark Side of the Spoon didnt
Dark Side for the most part is slow, lumbering, plodding,
trudging, painful, indistinguishable noise...very much like a visit to the
dentist. I despise dentists. First they make you wait, and wait, and wait, in a
room filled with screaming children and their miserable, Martha Stewart
wannabe, Beanie-Baby collecting mothers and all the while you can hear
the drill rrrrrrEEeRRRRR. Finally they call you to the
chair, but not before rendering you sterile with the x-ray machine. Once
they have you in the chair they stick you with needles, they put heinous
tasting gels in your mouth (this is bubble gum flavor, yeah right,
since when did bubble gum taste like it dropped out of a monkeys ass?),
and the dentist breathes on you with that foul dentist breath. You
have a mouth chock full o' cotton and metal and then comes that disgusting
sucking hose and, inevitably, the drill: grinding teeth and gums sending
bone, blood, decay and mercury down your defenseless gullet... Slow, noisy,
painful just like the new Ministry album.
Now, no visit to the dentist
would be complete without a prize, would it? When youre an adult they
give you some lame floss or crappy purple Ortho tooth brush. Well, the Ministry
album does have a few prizes, or surprises depending on how you want to look at
it. The first track, Supermanic Soul is the type of industrial trash
weve come to expect from Ministry. Garbled, over-processes vocals,
mechanical, unrelenting beats, sampled and looped guitar riffs, Crazy
House samples. Nothing new, nothing mind blowing, but fans of songs like
N.W.O. and Just One Fix will eat it up.
Step is almost cute. It sounds like the metallic
swing of Demon Speed with crazy hillbilly vocals like Southern Culture
on the Skids meets Primus, or if the Deliverance hillbillies had a metal band.
The song appears to be about a guy struggling through a 12-step program. Good
Vex & Soilence is plodding and sludgy like the
bulk of the album, but its more like a Lead Into Gold song done with
guitars. This song, featuring Paul on vocals, is obviously his baby. Clever
guitar/harmonics melodies, and Barkers trademark compressed, epic vocals
with lyrics that always sound more important then they really are...kind of a
treat for old school fans. Kind of.
Bad Blood, also part of the Matrix soundtrack, is
hands down the best track on the album with solid metallic riffs like The
Last Temptation of Ried era Lard. The whole album should have sounded like
this. The dual vocals at times are tasty
sounds like Groovy Mann from My
Life With the Thrill Kill Kult; nice pounding drums like Rieflin would play
when he was in the band. As metal as theyve ever been. Its no
longer fair to call them an industrial band.
Bad Blood is kind of like looking down and finding a
quarter in a dog turd for a split second youre like hey, a
quarter, but then youre like oh, but its surrounded by
a huge, steaming, fly laden turd. Do you pick up the quarter? Do you
visit the dentist? You decide!
* PTP, Pailhead, the Blackouts, Acid Horse, 1000
Homo DJs, Revolting Cocks, Lead Into Gold, etc.
Click to Buy!