Ministry - Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums (2002-2005)

Ministry – Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums (2002-2005)

I don’t know whether I should be sending these guys to the naughty step, some of the language used here is quite dreadful. Then again we are all adults, so perhaps this is a step too far. Ministry are a metal band formed in Chicago and fronted by Al Jourgensen, a talented mmmfh-something, whose career in music has included fronting several Ministry related bands, that have included Revolting Cocks & Black Satan among others, as well as producing and working with several acts whose footprint can be heard further afield than their own recorded output.

Here is a collection of 4 albums from the band’s time with Sanctuary imprint Mayan, and listeners should be advised to strap themselves in, as this is going to be one hell of a ride. Starting on this journey Sphinctour (get it), was an album first released in 1996, at the time of the Filthy Pig album, when the band had adopted a heavy metal stance, with the band focusing on a slower, heavier sound. The flag bearer of this album is ‘Psalm 69’, from their Montmartre, Paris show. What follows is ‘Crumbs’, recorded in Stuttgart, a number taken from Filthy Pig and it is certainly an amphetamine injection. Moving on aptly, ‘Just 1 Fix’ from the Psalm 69 album follows and from a time when Jourgensen was struggling with drug addiction, describes the situation in its opening words “Never trust a junkie…”. These numbers are a disturbing document, detailing an incredible time of creativity, but at an incredible personal cost.

From hereon-in Ministry are demonstrating just how well they can produce hard-metal. On Animositisomina the music is now performed at slower tempos, with less reliance on synthesiser, instead using incredible crunching guitars in their place. This is an awesome hit and drives the music with such power, the listener becomes totally immersed. For the less initiated it might be argued that “It’s all the same”, but I would have to disagree. Although very hard and with lyrics delivered with the force of a sledgehammer, a conviction is delivered that allows each number its own space. Think more recent acts such as Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs and you might hear a yardstick of where they achieved their inspiration. The opening number here is Animosity which welcomes the listener to the album, with its hard shredding pace. The track Lockbox might be thought as a little too shouty, but their cover of Magazine’s The Light Pours Out Of Me, is simply sublime and an example of musicians performing at their best. The number Shove is worth a visit too and simply a great rock tune.

The third album, Houses Of The Mole, sees a welcome return of samples and was the first part of the band’s anti-Bush trilogy. It begins with the track No “W”, which uses a sound-bite of George “W” Bush, to introduce the track. We hear the former-President voice “despicable acts of terror”, spoken over a playback of Carl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’. They originally released the album in 2004 and uses recorded soundbites played alongside the music to get the message across. This continues to create a menacing and powerful sound, combining almost musically soulful numbers, with those which seem as if the band asked themselves, “How hard can we play this”. As thrash collides with metal in the most beautiful pose, the most striking of these I would give to the track ‘Worm’.

The set completes with the last of their work for Sanctuary and is the compilation album Rantology. This is a set of 15 tracks made up of remixed versions of the band’s singles and best-known songs, excepting the previously unreleased track ‘The Great Satan’. This is a number which itself has become a live favourite and is no accident I’m sure follows the track ‘No “W”‘. As an introduction to the band this album is perfect, featuring not just the track ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’, an updated mix for ‘N.W.O.’, but also that live version from Montmartre, of ‘Psalm 69’. Many album sets have been produced to bring audiences a band’s output, and although this might only contain a slim snapshot of this band’s work, it stands alongside the best of them.

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