Review Summary: 9 tracks the pushed the envelope of what industrial metal could be.
Is there a band that deserves more praise for ushering in Industrial metal than Ministry? Al Jourgensen created Ministry in 1981 as a synth-pop outfit, releasing With Sympathy
in 1983 (which Jourgensen has called “An abortion of an album”) but moved onto the aggressive industrial metal Ministry is now known for in 1988 with The Land of Rape and Honey
. However, it was the year after, 1989, when Ministry would come as close to perfection as they could, with The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
. While not their best-selling album (that goes to Psalm 69
), The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
still went gold and cemented Ministry as a force to be reckoned with for twenty more years.
The greatest strength of this album is in Jourgensen’s ability to meld metal aggression with samples, and knowing just how to layer each and every piece. Nothing is just thrown in, it seems as if every sample, every riff was meticulously arranged for the exact spot it is in every song. Whether it is R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket in “Theives” or the background guitar in the beginning of “So What”, nothing feels out of place. Jourgensen puts enough in every song to make it so a lot is happening, but it never becomes too much for the listener. Another strength in the songs is when Ministry will restrain themselves from just going into straight aggression, creating a mood behind and making those times when the album does punch feel all the more powerful.
Even the lyrics are something to be heard, even if the message of the songs can be lost in the background. Al Jourgensen had a lot to be mad at, whether that was nuclear war (“Breathe”), violence in society (“So What”), or his own drug addictions (“Burning Inside”), but he never devolves his lyrics into cliché or bland-ness. Vocally, the album is best when Al is basically yelling at you, because bassist Paul Barker’s vocals can be whiny and slightly grating.
Al Jourgensen can write songs that pop, punch, and draw you in. Stellar cuts like the previously mentioned “So What” (the best song on the record), “Breathe”, and “Never Believe” show that in the early days of industrial, no one could touch Al Jourgensen’s songwriting skills. Ministry cemented themselves at the top of the early industrial pile with The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
, and despite some missteps in the 90’s (Most notably Dark Side of the Spoon
and Filth Pig
) stayed there until Jourgensen officially retired the Ministry name in 2008, and with it, one of the most influential artists of the past 25 years.