Archive for the Zero to Three Category

Album Review – Ministry “Relapse” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Zero to Three with tags , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  It wasn’t so long ago that I was saying in this space that Ministry has left the Aughts riding high, and that if they had nothing left to say this would be a great place to take the exit ramp. Obviously, Jourgensen and Co. don’t read obscure Canadian weblogs, because since that time they have squeezed out not one but two slightly shabby, unnecessary covers albums and now this studio record, Relapse.

If nothing else, Relapse can be said to be Ministry’s most meta-textual album. Most of the songs relate the trials and tribulations of a washed-up old junkie named Al Jourgensen, and his battles against addiction, the music industry and the one-percent. Unfortunately, although the record gasps, wheezes, tantrums  and blusters its way through dozens of bad-boy cliches, it remains thoroughly unsuccessful at convincing us they are battles he intends to win. Indeed, the title track contains a sheepish and (briefly) endearing admission of quite the opposite.

Sonically, Relapse fares little better. No record made by a man who began his career in electronic music and spent years as a producer and remixer deserves to sound this rushed, this forced or this poorly recorded. Jourgensen has a huge library of b-side, ugly-stepsister songs usually buried in side-projects, but here they have been pushed, blinking and mediocre, into the spotlight. Opening track “Ghouldiggers” starts out with promise but goes on far too long, and it’s pretty much downhill from there. Full marks for Stormtroopers of Death cover song “United Forces”, but that’s just a bit of sizzle when there’s not much steak in the kitchen.

We were worried about a world without a Ministry, but this is a depressing alternative. Relapse shows us a Ministry no longer an innovative industrial powerhouse, nor a speed metal monster. It’s more valuable as an example of franchise zombification than an entertaining piece of music. 3 out of 10

Album Review – Die Krupps “I Reissued” 2008

Posted in Album Reviews, Zero to Three with tags , , , , on October 29, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  First, a warning: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES RELINQUISH YOUR ORIGINAL COPY OF THIS RECORD.

Now, the review. I’d been searching for a copy of Die Krupps’ 1990 transitional album from the world of synthpop to industrial rock for some time, and I was very pleased to see this two-disc set on the shelf. Disc One was the album “remixed and remastered for today by Jurgen Engler”. It’s a good remix job, with heftier beats a la Combichrist, but the one thing that bothered me was that the vocal samples from films and broadcasts had been removed. In many cases, they were not replaced with any other sounds, leaving gaping holes in the sonic matrix of each track.  A bleeped George Carlin would be more satisfying than this defanged “I“.

Oh well, I thought, that’s the world of copyright clearance. I once read somewhere that a fully-cleared version of Paul’s Boutique would cost over ten million dollars to produce today. At least I had the genuine article on hand. I confidently popped in Disc Two, labelled as “the original album digitally remastered”.

My ass it’s the original album. It’s been lawyered, too. All the same omissions of sampled materials, all the same non-attempts to fill the sonic gaps. I realize that when you have a song with a very recognizable reference to “the power of the dark side” in it, you might run afoul of some bigger fish, even the founding father of rebastardizing classic material himself. But still, what this collection is purported to be and what it really is are two very different things, and I call bullshit.

Saved from a zero by a few interesting demos tacked onto the end. Still an ignominious end to my Die Krupps fandom. 1 out of 10

Album Review – Manowar “Gods of War” 2007

Posted in Album Reviews, Zero to Three with tags , , , , on January 13, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  In my last Deals and Steals I triumphantly declared that I had purchased this much-ballyhooed and expensive record for seven bucks. I’d like about six of them back. Why didn’t anyone tell me?

I’ll get this out of the way right now: I love Manowar. I love all the crazy shit they do, I was the first kid on the block to have a (cassette) copy of Kings of Metal. I don’t even care about the outfits on the cover of Into Glory Ride.

But I’m pissed about this one, and I’m going to tell you all about it, track by track:

1. Six minute keyboard into.

2. Two-plus minutes of narration. We’re up to about nine minutes before any members of Manowar play a guitar or drums or sing.

3. Actual Manowar song; not bad.

4. Two minute vocal solo/choral song; not good.

5. Song, cut and pasted from last album.

6. Good Manowar song!

7. Cheesy ballad. Manowar’s good at these but you’ve heard it before.

8. Four minutes of keyboards.

9. Four more minutes of narration.

10. Okay song. It’s six minutes long because there’s another 90 seconds of narration hiding inside it.

11. Narrative story. I can’t dis this, as it’s dedicated to the man himself, Arthur Pendragon Wiltshire.

12. Lengthy slow song.

13. Reprise of choral song.

14. Long but okay song.

15. Lengthy slow song.

16. Bonus track – better than anything else here. If you want to hear it, play Brutal Legend instead of buying this.

Since the entire booklet is in Viking runes, I went online to get the official translation. I now wish I hadn’t – it contains a poorly spelled fourth-grade lesson in Norse mythology. I’m aware that the whole thing is meant to have a Wagnerian flavour, but it’s disingenuous to label this with the main brand when it’s more like a classical side project. If you call yourself the loudest band the in the world, true metal warriors, etc. it’s not a great idea to release an album well over an hour long in which all four of you pick up your instruments and play together for about 20 minutes. This record has more filler on one disc than Nostradamus has on two. You can fit Sign of the Hammer into this twice over, and Reign in Blood almost three times. 

Imagine me shrieking “Disappointiiiiiiing!” over a lick from an ’80s keyboard set on Orchestra. 2 out of 10

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