Archive for Ministry

Album Review – Hanzel und Gretyl “Born to be Heiled” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Lightning Slim


images  Hanzel und Gretyl have never really been on my list of bands for whom “the best is yet to come”, so it was a pleasant surprise when Born to be Heiled dropped – because it’s a killer record.

HuG like the following (in no particular order): Leather, Industrial, Thrash, Iron Crosses, Pentagrams, Boots, Military Chic, Fascist Iconography, Motorcycles, Wagner, Sci-Fi, Goth, Germany, Beer. Listening to one of their records is like the entire inventory of your local head shop /Hot Topic was loaded into a blunderbuss and shot onto a mixing board. Born to be Heiled is no exception, and may be their best effort yet.

We begin with “Hanzel und Gretyl Für Immer”, an appropriate and expected piece of Teutonic clank, before things amp up into disco thump with “Unterstützung 87”, the best Rob Zombie song he never wrote. From there, the band mines several influences, including mid-period Ministry, newer Slayer-style Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, and (of course) Rammstein. The record is capped off with “More German than German”, a cheeky Fischerspoonerism that represents the very best of where HuG can take you.

By understanding the inherent limitations of the genre, and not claiming to be mad geniuses who have the potential to lose their edge, Hanzel und Gretyl have, in Born to be Heiled, put together their most compulsive listening experience yet. Zehr Gut! 8.5 out of 10

I Show You My Stubs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by Lightning Slim

…from my concert tickets. A lot of metalheads save up their gig tix for trophy value. Especially in the days before cellphone cameras, they were a great way to say “I was there!” Back then, bands and venues would confiscate pocket cameras and recording devices; now of course everybody wants you to tweet their names far and wide.

I’ve never been very organized, so I’ve lost a lot of my stubs over the years. Recently I was cleaning house and found a stack of them which were very faded, so I decided to throw them on the scanner before consigning them to the circular file. Check it out:

Concert Tix

A fun walk down memory lane. What do you do with your old stubs?

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

Deals and Steals: Ladies Up Front, Gearheads Live

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  Live industrial sounds and female-fronted bands for the first shipment this year, along with some great TV. All Prices $US. Only $5 shipping but I was dinged with a $17 customs bill thanks to a random inspection. Boo!

Dimension Zero – Silent Night Fever $3.19. Awesome Marduk/In Flames supergroup thrashback.

In This Moment – A Star-Crossed Wasteland $5.59. A perfect mix of their earlier aggression and new lush production.

Wicked Wisdom – S/T $2.54. Jada Pinkett Smith has a metal band. They warned me, but I needed to know. Meh, it’s not terrible.

KMFDM – WWIII Live 2003 $3.20. Basically because I wanted to hear Lucia Cifarelli sing “Juke Joint Jezebelle”. I could have lived my life without it.

The Corner $11.99. This is the TV miniseries that The Wire was based on, and The Wire is the best thing to happen to television since they decided to put a screen on one side. Can’t wait to dig into it.

Rome: The Complete Series $60.99. I needed something to fill that Deadwood void. Came in a nifty book-binding type of case, like a history text full of gore and manipulation.

And the funnest deal of the bunch:

  Ministry – In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up $3.58. Indispensable live document of their glory days!

Album Review – Prong “Scorpio Rising” 2003

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by Lightning Slim

   This is not an easy record to lay one’s hands on, thus the late review.  Prong has always been a somewhat second-tier act, linchpin Tommy Victor finding greater success when paired with other like minds. Scorpio Rising represents Victor’s output after his associations with Paul Raven, Charlie Clouser and Ted Parsons, but before touching the Midas hand of Al Jourgensen. As such, it’s an interesting look into the mind of the musician himself.

The album is quite similar to Halford’s Crucible in approach: it conquers with quantity, delivering fourteen tracks of varying styles. Don’t like this song? Here’s another.  It has neither the disco-industrial verve of Cleansing or the angular Chilling Joke drone of Rude Awakening, instead taking a slow-and-low route reminiscent of early Coal Chamber, a style quite well suited to Victor’s gravelly roar.

As usual, the lyrics ponder the abstract and the esoteric. For a man capable of rattling off a spot-on, lusty cover of “Space Truckin'”, Victor’s own lyrical musings always make it seem like he’s defending himself at the bar exam. Expensive verbiage is part of the Prong-ness of Prong, so no worries there for any listener with passing familiarity.

 Perhaps not the album you’d expect after a seven-year hiatus, but then again one can accumulate rust as easily as other material. Scorpio Rising doesn’t rewrite the playbook but represents a solid enough trip through Prong-land to inspire multiple listens. 7 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Ministry “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , on February 6, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  In 1989 Ministry were at their height of their powers. The band’s live show swelled to a dozen personnel including two drum kits and three vocalists working together in an industrial bacchanal of cross-pollination. Mind/Taste is the studio document of that time, a near-perfect collection of everything that Ministry has going for it. 

 By rejecting the guitarist-as-architect ethos, Ministry first proved what famous frenemy Trent Reznor would take to the next level: that the big noise wants to be made, and it’s not only loyal to the five-piece rock band in the tour bus – it’s just as happy escaping into the world through the push of a sequencer’s button.  Don’t let me mislead you (if by a very long chance you aren’t familiar with The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste), this is a metal record, and in many ways a more elegant and richer rock document than their later riff-addicted speed racers. The seething political indictments have just the right amount of inspecificity to keep the record timeless without losing the raw anger. That’s the real success here – the ability of the material to hold up through the years coupled with massive cross-over appeal. If it’s a genre or scene remotely concerned with giving society the finger, this record has its hooks in it. 

Legendary moshpit openers “Thieves” and “Burning Inside” open the gates wide for us to enter the party and mingle. Taking a tour of the premises, you can find Chris Connelly holding court in the kitchen, Ogre making a mess in the living room, some K. Lite rap happenings on the patio and an all-star drunken singalong with everyone piled in the bathtub and Bill Rieflin banging on the radiator. Into every room, interrupting everyone, filling glasses and demanding to know your fun-status come charging our hosts Luxa and Pan. Once they’ve determined you’ve had enough, they gently ask you make sure everything’s OK with your sleeping buddies in the chill-out room before you go. It’s an evening well spent.

Although largely predicated on the contributions of its guest artists, Mind/Taste should earn some praise for Ministry themselves. After all, theirs was the party everyone wanted to be at. It was the right record at the right time, before the scene split to its sludge and coldwave opposite poles, meaning than anyone could claim this Back in Black of industrial records as their own. 10 out of 10

Decade Review: Ten Bands that Rocked the 2000’s

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Lightning Slim

Decade Review: Ten Bands that Rocked the 2000’s 

This isn’t a best-of, more of a reflection on who had a good decade in my musical universe. Some artists are old masters making a comeback, some are newer bands that hit right around the Millennium, and some are just hard-working dudes who cranked out a good ten years’ worth of tunes without having any kind of meltdown. 

  1. Amon Amarth – With every record, they just keep getting better and better. Not too shabby, especially when they keep banging them out every 20 months or so like clockwork. While the past few years have been their time to shine, AA’s pagan thunder has people excited to see what’s next.
  2. Ministry – After starting the decade in rehab and stumbling out of the gate with Animositisomina, Al Jourgensen roared back into focus with his “Dubya Trilogy”. Ministry’s best moments have always been collaborative, and these supposedly final slabs of finger-pointing are fortified with the likes of Tommy Victor, Burton Bell and Paul Raven (RIP). If he really is done this time, the Alien has capped off his career with head held high. 
  3. Iron Maiden – In early 2000 I received a promotional postcard with a picture of Eddie on one side and one sentence on the other: “Bruce is Back.” Exciting, but that wasn’t the whole story, as Dickinson brought songwriting partner Adrian Smith with him and the band kept bonus guitarist Jannick Gers. Now a six-piece, the big boys of metal released three albums in the Zeroes. All of them are long, noodling and by no means The Number of the Beast, but at the same time they are consistently better than anything since Seventh Son. Maiden were also smart enough to realize that the new material isn’t as rousing onstage – their solution was elegant and ingenious: Dust off your ass-kicking 1985 World Tour gear, pack it on your own  jet plane and just do it all over again. This is captured in all its glory in the highly recommended documentary Flight 666.  
  4. KMFDM – In 1999 KMFDM released Adios, their farewell album. They’ve cheerfully made fun of this while making six studio albums and about a bazillion singles, remixes and side projects since. Bringing in Lucia Cifarelli brought an end to hired-gun female vocalists as well as adding another songwriter to the fold, and the often underrated Tim Skold had his fingerprints all over their third decade of bold-faced rip offs “conceptual continuity”. Still political, still angry, KMFDM have nonetheless loosened up a bit, presenting a little more Blackadder than black leather. 
  5. Amorphis – If Entombed and Chrome Division define Death n’ Roll, Amorphis created a kind of DoomPop with Tuonela, a record filled with the rich textures, lyrical imagery and saxophone (!) you’d normally get from artists associated with the singer/songwriter world. It’s the heaviest U2 album ever made. After that, things got a bit weird with two straight-up psychedelic releases before Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger returned us to the land of the Kalevala with Tomi Joutsen as our upgraded tour guide. By mining the national epic for narrative, Amorphis became a band with stories to tell, the Neil Young of the metal world. 
  6. Arch Enemy – Obviously, it’s been a good decade for the “A” section of my shelves, and AE really got cooking with the addition of pint-sized punk menace Angela Gossow. Debate as you will about who did what first, Gossow has become the poster girl for female contributions to extreme metal. She’s made enough of an impression that the Arnotts have retroactively made her the sole vocalist of the band by putting her up front in early-hits redux record The Root of All Evil. Sorry, Johan! The band put out four studio albums in the Aughts (two great, one good, one so-so), toured relentlessly and recorded tons of live material. We don’t know what the Teens will bring, but as of right now, they are Kind of a Big Deal. 
  7. Rob Halford – I wonder if the Metal God likes to make lists? If he made one for the 2000’s, it might look a bit like this: Reunite legendary metal band Judas Priest – check. Successful solo records praised for their heaviness (thanks Roy Z!) – check. Clothing line, recording studio – check and check. Just for fun, make a well-received Christmas album – check. Do all of this as a gay man in his fifties – ka-check!
  8. In Flames – I’m still learning to love 2004’s Soundtrack to Your Escape (and might never), but otherwise it’s been full speed ahead for the Jesterheads. Arguments over which of Clayman or Reroute to Remain is better are futile, since both are excellent. The choruses have gotten punkier over the years (they do tour with hardcore bands a lot) but the band still lays a firm claim to their piece of the Gothenburg Sound.
  9. Danko Jones – He’s “big in Sweden”! Thus Danko complains to typically lackluster Toronto crowds whenever he plays at home. He can be moody with his non-emotive Canadian fans but it hasn’t stopped him from releasing several chunks of straight-up rock. They’ve all got some great numbers on them, and very little filler. Danko’s also one of the few guys operating today who sings about girls without sounding either emo or femicidal.  
  10. Apocalyptica – There’s that “A” again. 2000 was the year Apocalyptica stopped depending on cover songs and took off on their own with Cult. Each subsequent release added new elements to the cello quartet’s classical sound: Reflections has drums and a touch of piano, Apocalyptica throws in some vocalists and Worlds Collide finally fully embraces the big goth-rock mess of the genre they basically invented. I’m not as much a fan of the latter album, thinking that they lost some of their unique charm by putting too many kids on the vocal side of the teeter-totter. As a whole, however, they make this list by rising above the tide of “A Gimmick X Tribute to Band Y” to become their own masters.

 Honourable Mention: Motörhead, but then, it’s always their time.

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