All photos: Lori Bally
MP3: Ministry – N.W.O. from Psalm 69 – The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs (1992)
That’s right folks. Ministry, pioneers of what came to be known as ‘industrial metal,’ is presumably finished. They’ve polished off their last North American tour, ‘C U LaTour,’ and are currently touring Europe until late July. There’s been some confusion over whether this was their last international tour, or their tour to end all tours.
But we’ve spoken with guitarist Sin Quirin (original guitarist of Revolting Cocks and Ministry guitarist since 2006), confirming that this is the last tour Ministry the band will ever do, and the album, The Last Sucker (released in September of 2008) the last full-length LP released.
Quirin says Al Jourgensen (frontman) has been trying to dissimilate the band, though unsuccessfully, for the past two to three years. Reasons being are left to the imagination—legal disputes, the death of bassist Paul Raven in 2007 (also of Killing Joke and Prong), three decades of production and touring—so the most we can hope for is some kind of reunion tour, and projected future collaborations and projects produced by Jourgensen.
With more than a dozen albums and numerous tours, the band has run the gamut. Getting its start in mid-1980’s Chicago, Ministry has for the most part been the brain child of Al Jourgensen, with bassist Paul Barker being noted as the only other actual band member. Jourgensen created a particular style by mixing electronics, sampling, and distorted guitars and vocals, which has become immediately identifiable, even anthemic, within the industrial genre. Having collaborated with musicians across the board—Bill Rieflin, Martin Atkins, Nivek Ogre, Jello Biafra, Ian Mackaye—just to name a few, Ministry has (for the most part) never lacked in inventive productions.
Blowing off the last bit of steam with the C U LaTour, Uncle Al and company gave a traditional Ministry performance, at least at the Irving Plaza New York show in early May, giving the crowd a good chunk of songs from The Last Sucker, a few unexpected covers from their cover album Cover Up, and of course the crowd-pleasers “N.W.O” and “Just One Fix,” without which I would have been grossly disappointed, given my nostalgic fixation with the mid-Ministry drug-errific era of the albums Psalm 69 and Filth Pig. With the ghost of William Burroughs hovering in the screen projections as snippets of the “Just One Fix” music video rolled, I should have felt giddy with delight, except for the fact that Burton C Bell of Fear Factory was performing the song as Jourgensen took a breather on the side.
While maybe a bit of a trivial complaint, the C U LaTour tour seemed like more of a party for the band than it was for some of the more critical fans, and The Last Sucker, although complete with the heavy Ministry sound and overt political right-wing attacks, doesn’t live up to the brilliantly sampled and mixed prior Ministry releases.
But all of that aside, the band, touring 2008 with a different line-up of notables like guitarists Tommy Victor (Prong) and Sin Quirin (RevCo), has forged its rightful place in that gray area between industrial and metal music, with anthems and shows that sound-tracked my youth, so I guess if they want to play Rolling Stones and Doors covers (like “Under MY Thumb” and “Roadhouse Blues”) then I have no grounds other than my own personal lack of enthusiasm to argue from. All that can be said is yep, it was a farewell tour, and all good things must come to an end.
But for us malcontented twenty-somethings and/or lovers and appreciators of subversive music, not all live shows in the industrial/metal genre have waxed nostalgic. An unexpected choice for their opening act, experimental death-metal band Meshuggah opened for Ministry. Coupling with strictly ‘metal’ metal acts outside of the industrial circuit is something not necessarily done in the past.
Sin Quirin stated that instead of signing on another industrial metal act as done in the past, having two metal bands would make for an interesting night. Showcasing the Swedish outfit Meshuggah, who gave a brilliant, technically-impressive performance highlighting their latest album, obZen (2008), proved that there are important and good things happening in the die-hard metal end of the universe. Although they’re not necessarily carrying an overtly politically-charged torch in the sense that Ministry did with songs like “Lies Lies Lies” and “No W,” they’re exceptionally brilliant, lyrically-inaudible postmodern goodness from the anti-Christian bowels of Scandinavian death metal.
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