Smile Politely

Anger These Days Just Doesn’t Sound Like Ministry

Perhaps it’s simply the fact that I am older and a bit less cynical, but heavy music made with guitars seems to have become pretty terrible. I used to really enjoy it.

Now, let me qualify that by stating that I probably don’t know enough to really give an adequate estimation on the subject, but I hear lots of heavy music all the time — from super hardcore like Immolation to what fans of said band would call “pussy shit” like Mastodon. None of it gives bands from two decades ago a run for their money. Not in my book, any way.

Take Ministry for example. Now there was an angry band. And on top of that, Al Jourgensen had some really powerful things to say, both politically and socially. In 2009, it’s starting to make even more sense.

After years of toiling in relative obscurity within the Chicago underground as a post-new wave electronica act, Jourgensen decided to put the MIDI to rest after signing with Sire Records for The Land of Rape and Honey in 1988. It would be the first in a string of commercially successful releases for Ministry.

The following year, when Ministry released The MInd is a Terrible Thing to Taste, George H.W. Bush had just been elected to office. Chances are, the band was still tracking while Dukakis was blowing it in the home stretch. H.W. and over a decade late, his son Dubya, would provide much inspiration for Jourgenson. He obsessed about what Bush 41 called a New World Order, in a speech ironically if not prophetically given on September 11, 1991. He, like so many others, quickly began to speculate that Neo-Cons had one thing in mind when talking about the future: total devastation of the world as we know it.

On the song “So What,” he is simply no holds barred about living in a dystopian future without much room for hope or solution. It’s a frightening take on the world without regard for people’s rights and laws as it discusses the influence that cultural violence has on society.

The track, topping out at more than eight minutes, is filled with wicked cackles, samples from the classic Ed Wood written film, The Violent Years, and a repetitive bassline that never ceases its rhythm. To this day, it’s not a song I can listen to without at least a few lights on.

It’s just that hardcore.

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