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MINISTRY

In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up
Rating: 3
   When I pulled this out of my wife's old tape box and asked her, "What is Ministry like?", she said, "I think you'll find it goes against everything you believe in."
   If she was referring to the lyrics, she may be right; I can't judge, as I was unable to make any of them out. (I did hear some anti-clerical statements. While I believe an honest debate about the role of the church in society is healthy and important, I'm not sure that "fuck the church" is a meaningful contribution to the discussion.)
   If she was referring to the music, she was mostly on target, but I found a few things to admire. This band is very talented, particularly William Rieflin, who plays the hell out of the drums. It's hard to believe this was recorded live, as the group is incredibly tight, hitting very fast riffs without any sloppiness. And a lot of these riffs are pretty catchy, if only they connected to some other riffs or some nice melodies.
   Unfortunately, their talent is wasted on mind-numbingly repetitive, melody-less grinding industrial rock. Allegedly these compositions have lyrics, but the vocals are sung by a guy who sounds like Tom Waits with laryngitis. Occasionally a song will have something resembling a chorus, but mostly it's the same four notes over and over for 6, 9, or 11 minutes. Throw in some feedback at the end and you've got an ear-destroying, soul-crushing 40 minutes of music. And I'm not the only one who couldn't bear it. The crowd sounds considerably smaller at the end of the show than it does at the beginning.

READER COMMENTS

  • From Jessica (aka Mrs. Steve and Abe): What have you got against Tom Waits?? I never noticed that, about the crowd being smaller. I don't think it's because they've left, they're just not sure the song is over.
  • STEVE AND ABE RESPOND: Abe says, "Hagaah." Steve says: "I don't have anything against Tom Waits other than his inability to write an interesting melody. But even his admirers will admit he's got a raspy voice, no? As far as the crowd not being sure the song's over, that just proves my point about the spirit-battering repetitiveness of these arrangement. Thanks for writing!"

  • From Jason Justian: I think you would be fascinated by Ministry's transition to industrial grunge if you heard their early album In Sympathy. I don't think there's a single guitar there. It's pretty bad, though, that old Ministry stuff. I think they were trying to be like Depeche Mode--that's 80s Depeche Mode, not 90s Depeche Mode. Say what you want about Depeche Mode (I can imagine what you'd say!) but they sure can spin a depressing track. Ministry used to be like that, but less musically interesting.

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