Main Index Page General Ratings Page Rock Chronology Page Song Search Page New Additions Message Board


[page in the process of being converted from MP3 status to full status]

Class ?

Main Category: Avantgarde
Also applicable: Heavy Metal, Electronica
Starting Period: The Divided Eighties
Also active in: From Grunge To The Present Day



Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Ministry fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Ministry fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window.


Coming soon.



Year Of Release: 1986

This was actually the second album credited to Ministry, but I don't have the first one and apparently it's hard to find. Even worse, the stupid MP3 disc I have this on lops off the first song, 'Just For You', so boy do I have a gruesomely incomplete analysis of Ministry's early years for you. If you feel particularly bad about it, don't read this page at all. Go read my Mariah Carey reviews instead, which feature extensive coverage.

Anyway, this is a nifty little record even without the first song. Imagine a really avantgarde, really post-modernist, really conceptualist, really industrial band like, uh, Einstürzende Neubauten or Front 242. Now imagine such a band taking their most recent, most inaccessible, most controversial, most esoteric album and saying to itself: "I want this album to be accessible to the general public". Now imagine such a band rearranging this material by making it eminently danceable, eminently rhythmic, eminently hook-filled, eminently synth-poppy. Can you imagine all that?

Fine! Now you know where Depeche Mode took its sound from. Ministry, on the other hand (actually, "Ministry" at that time was merely the Alain Jourgensen guy; his collaboration with Paul Barker hadn't begun yet), while certainly being more rhythmic and danceable than their industrial inspirations, still make an album that would be hard to sell out. Twitch is dark, creepy, and scary, starting with the anti-establishment lyrics and ending with all those spooky noises which Jourgensen transfers from his sick mind onto this sick record. Sure, it's nowhere near as heavy and grinding as what would follow (mainly because there's actually very little, if any, guitar presence on here), but it still produces an unnerving effect.

Today, Twitch would normally be just considered a slight variation on the techno/house themes which you can hear everywhere; for 1986, this piece of work sure must have been at least moderately groundbreaking. No, really, the fun thing here is that Jourgensen manages to make the industrial genre more... if not accessible, then at least understandable for the public. The things he does on here are definitely music, with rhythms and themes and melodies and all, but it's music solidly built upon an "industrial" foundation. And at the same time, it's not commercial. So it's sort of a good compromise between mass-manufactured muzak and that particularly elitist branch of art that values banging on steel pipes over traditional harmonic principles.

Most of the tracks here are real songs, too. All except the huge twelve-minute "jam/groove/rave/sound collage" 'Where You At Now?/Crash And Burn/Twitch (Version II)' on the album's second side, but even that one is cool as hell. I normally hate monotonous 'compositions' where nothing really goes on, but this one ain't monotonous, and there's a lot going on. The first part rolls along at a frenetic pace with gazillions of noises interchanging with each other (steamrollers, chainsaws, loud yells, harmony singing, and, of course, the obligatory pipe-banging), and then it all changes to one of the wildest percussion collages I've ever heard - ah man, it's more horrible than the Apocalypse. You just gotta hear all those percussion layers clinging to one another, growing on and on until you start getting the impression of a mad, ravenous, futuristic shoot-out taking place around you, after which it all just culminates in a series of deafening nuclear explosions. For some reason, not even Blixa Bargeld ever had the nerve to glue his tapes in that manner.

As for the actual songs, not all of them are scary, but all of them are at least "ominous". Like, 'The Angel', for instance, which is kinda like an "industrial ballad" (NOT a "Goth" ballad by all means - there's not a single Goth trademark, and thumbs up to Al for evading unnecessary cliches), with Patty Jourgenson joining Al on vocals. 'All Day' is lyrically just a condemnation of the rich swine ('and he breaks his back without nothing to gain, while the boss man sits around and drinks champagne'), but musically it's quite catchy, kind of like a "hard-rocking" antidote to Depeche Mode's sissy synth-pop. Well, actually, if you thought synth-pop is "pop" by definition and a synth-pop song can't really rock hard unless you screw on a generic hair metal solo, this album will prove you wrong.

The vocals on 'Over The Shoulder' are almost laughably wimpy and paranoid, but they're used to good effect, what with the accompanying carnivorous synth loops and pan-clanging and drum machines and evil feedback outbursts. 'My Possession' just rips - fast, furious, catchy, and "protesty" all over. Martin Gore, eat your heart out: your band might have had all the hits and all the cash, but this is the real shit. And 'Isle Of Man', with its nasal sarcastic vocals and eco-rock lyrics, gives you an idea of what Midnight Oil might have sounded like had they, too, been industrial fans.

In fact, I probably should have rated this even higher, but it doesn't come together that well when you judge it as a whole. All the individual songs are good, no question about that, but the overall picture does leave you a bit unsatisfied (well, it's just hard to sit through all of this in one sitting). Besides, it doesn't sound anything like the Beatles, and you know only the Beatles are allowed to get high ratings on the site. Well, them and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.



Year Of Release: 1988

This is the most authentically, the most sincerely and creepily evil album ever recorded by mortal man on this planet of ours.

Okay, I just wanted to skip all the necessary disclaimers - that I haven't heard all of the supposedly "evil" albums, that it all depends on what you actually consider to be "evil", that it applies more to the first side of this album than to the second, blah blah blah. But seriously now, this stuff simply exposes phonies like Slayer and all those laughable death metal bands for the sissies they really are. Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker don't take no shit - they mean what they're doing, and what they're doing is present an extremely uncanny, uncomfortable, schizophrenic, murderous, hellish picture of the world we're living in (and sometimes, of the world we're gonna be living in when we die, too). And more than that, they know how to present it in a way that would be at once avantgardist and accessible - Jesus, some of the creepiest songs on here are also the catchiest!

This is where Ministry perfects and brandishes its hybrid of metal and industrial, even if there's still too little guitar presence here - apart from the first four songs, it's mostly electronica and drum machines and tape loops and samples that make it all sound so gruesome. But this also helps the album be more diverse, so that you gradually go from "pop metal" to "speed metal" to "bluesy" to "deconstructive industrial" to Eastern motives to everything; it's scary how the band manages to be so scary in so many different scary ways. The record overflows with creative ideas; every song has something to offer, and anyway you're too busy pissing your pants to get bored with this shit. Okay, that's a little hyperbole here, but I did listen to this stuff with my headphones on all the way (reasonably afraid that if a neighbour'd overheard me with this stuff he might've called 911), so I'm still a little shakey, you gotta understand.

Okay then - what we got here? 'Stigmata' opens the album with a hellish yell that dissolves itself in awful white noise and a three-chord guitar riff that seems to be sucking the very soul out of you, and the electronically treated vocals on here are some of the most unsettling I've ever heard, especially when it comes to Al totally strangling himself with those guttural sounds. But, like I said, it's catchy! You'll never again manage to get that riff out of your head! Then the next two songs are obviously Slayer-inspired, with fast tempos and metallic riffage, but a bit slower than your average Slayer so that they don't sound that ridiculous, and with much more interesting lyrics, too. 'The Missing' is about somebody whom 'they took away', and 'Deity' could be mistaken as an ode to Satanism, but is in fact an anti-media rant ("let's pray to TV divinity/he covets me, deity!"). I must add here that there are few more powerful moments in metal than the one where Al yells out 'he comes for me, deity!'. You take your Slayer and Napalm Death; I'll take this stuff. It's much more real - even if it's definitely not for everybody. Certainly not for those sissy infantile Slayer fans, heh heh heh.

The album "calms down" a bit after this furious three-song opener, but that doesn't really mean there's much tension relieved. 'Golden Dawn' is a nearly instrumental jam with an almost bluesy foundation, but drenched in feedback, industrial noises, and with an occasional snippet of funny "dialogue" like 'you've been found guilty of commerce with the devil! - THE ANTI-CHRIST! THE ANTI-CHRIST!'. Then 'Destruction' is based around a sample of the mob fanatically yelling 'destroy! destroy!'; not exactly the prettiest music for your ears either. Then there's a tune based around samples of Arab chanting - and, since it's called 'Hizbollah', I can only surmise what they're chanting out there (of course, it might be something fairly innocent, but the tune IS named 'Hizbollah', right?).

My words really wouldn't do justice to all the things contained herein. I certainly can't put down on paper how blood-curdling is that insane laughter on 'You Know What You Are', or how mantraic and almost hypnotic is that Nazi-style "hip-hooray" chanting on the title track, or how cool is the vocal melody on the brief punkish 'I Prefer', with each "verse" ending with a brutal 'I pre-fer... FLA-GEL-LA-TION!', or how goddamn mad the vocals are on 'Flashback', or how the cool synthfunk of 'Abortive' wraps it all up on a relatively calmer note. Well, okay, so I did put it all down on paper, but you won't believe me anyway until you've taken a good listen to this album. Isn't it funny how back in the Eighties all these cartoonish metal bands like WASP or Twisted Sister got all the flack from the PMRC and yet truly evil bands - in the "bands that really make you look down upon evil as it is" sense - like Ministry never got it? Guess being underground has its good sides, now doesn't it? Then again, I guess the PMRC types woulda been way too dumb to choose this album as their scapegoat even had it sold five million copies back in that very epoch. Make no mistake about it - this is the real stuff, I'm tellin' ya. You may like or dislike it, but it definitely is NOT cartoonish.


Return to the main index page