Ministry
With Sympathy


2.0
poor

Review

by RobotFrank USER (27 Reviews)
October 25th, 2009 | 70 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This isn't your Mother's Ministry. Wait – scratch that. Reverse it.

Brash, abrasive, dark and dirty, MINISTRY has never been a band to take lightly. Unless you count everything they did before 1986. Al Jourgensen would prefer to be remembered as the aggro-mouthed industrial front man with a propensity for harsh vocals and overbearing guitars, in favor of his earlier incarnation: Alain Jourgensen, the sniveling, needy, nancy boy of long forgotten past. If Jourgenson controlled time, 1983 would be erased from history. It was the year his core project, Ministry, released their cringe-worthy debut, With Sympathy. Donning a fake British accent and dowsed in new wave flash and dazzle, With Sympathy bears more resemblance to the Thompson Twins than the industrial thrash assault found on more recognizable albums like Psalm 69 and The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. Graphically described by Jourgensen as “an abortion of an album,” Ministry was pressured by their Arista label to release a synthpop record in order to capitalize on a trend – Or so Alain would have us believe. Rumors circulate that Jourgensen would go so far as to destroy any copy of With Sympathy he encountered; and with justifiable reason. The album, itself, actually has some sympathy for its listeners, by cutting short after just nine songs. Which is probably seven too many.

There are some good things on this album, but first let's explore the seldom spoken, shakiest territory of the groups suspect history. I'm not going to pretend I know a lot about DeBarge, but I suspect they sound a bit like “I Wanted to Tell Her.” Specifically the verse. Combining the worst of disco, funk and soul, the track is a twisted freak that should have been killed upon birth; instead it was featured prominently at track three. What's scarier is that it's also one of the more enjoyable tracks on the album, if you can get over the embarrassment you feel towards yourself for actually liking it. You might also hate it. “Work For Love” is another excruciatingly dated song that is somewhat rescued by it's highly entertaining lyrical concept. “And now you're taking applications / For your love / You wanted certain specifications / I circled the one that said all the above.” A more shameless pleasure than it's predecessor, “Work For Love” keeps it simple with sparse 80's riffs and intermittent crystallized synth loops over programmed beats. “Finally my letter arrived / And I knew you would be mine / Instead I had to prove my turf / For the first two weeks work overtime.” Not quite awful, “Work For Love” could win you over and land the job of avoiding a skip.

By far the ugliest skeleton in Jourgensen's music closet is the hideous “What He Say.” Polluted with the worst “world” themed electronics, nonsensical, incoherent ooga-booga lyrics and the continued insistence upon dancing to the whole mess, the song is absolutely atrocious. Top it off with a refrain of “WHAT HE SAY""” and your ears are irreversibly quality damaged. The remaining three tracks on the album don't do much to improve the overall quality of the record, but they do inflict more heavy damage to Ministry's image. “Say Your Sorry” sets the mood with a clichéd 1983 impassioned sax solo, before introducing the sorriest, heart-broken cries of a pitiful Alain Jourgensen. The sadder side of Al continues to be revealed in “I Should Have Known Better” and is finally put to rest on the album closer, “She's Got a Cause.”

Before this ship was sunk, it looked good and had a bit of promise upon setting sail. Opener “Effigy (I'm Not An)” is exactly what you would want the synthpop incarnation of Ministry to sound like: Ticked-off vocals, dark, catchy electronics and a hard-hitting, programmed drum beat. It's not the most amazing new wave song ever written, but it's fun, aggressive and does little to tarnish the Ministry to come. The song lays blueprints for the kind of pop-industrial sound popularized by Nine Inch Nails on their 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine. By far the greatest song of Ministry's synthpop era is “Revenge.” Combining the aural aesthetics of early '80s new wave with the anger and aggression of late '80s industrial, “Revenge” is a masterful darkwave tune that's thoroughly engaging with it's driving synths, pounding beat and highly contemptuous vocal. The track is enjoyable enough to forgive the faux-Brit accent used throughout. With “Revenge,” Jourgenson conceived one of the greatest synthpop songs of the early 80's, and without question, one of the angriest. A brooding new waver's anthem, the song is good enough to warrant owning the entire album, regardless of it's flagrant deficiencies. Just don't let Al find out you have it, or he might come to your house to break it.

Ministry would abandon their synthpop origins pretty quickly after With Sympathy. Jourgenson went on to leave Arista for Sire, where he would take the sound into a drastically different direction. Some fans prefer the early approach, found on With Sympathy and the Twelve Inch Singles collection (see: “Everyday Is Halloween”, “All Day”) while the majority of Ministry followers are of the industrial fan base. Which is better" Depends on who you ask: Your Mom, or a hardass.



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user ratings (185)
Chart.
2.3
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
RobotFrank
October 25th 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

More music that nobody listens to but me, probably. But I'm here to fill these gaping holes that nobody cares about. I wanted to give this a higher score, but... just can't do it. Revenge is a 5/5, however. Check that out at least.

Meatplow
October 25th 2009


5524 Comments


I haven't check out Al's early synthpop stuff, I do love the genre and later Ministry though.

Good review.

XulOnerom
October 25th 2009


1818 Comments


"Revenge" is a fucking awesome song

Metalstyles
Emeritus
October 25th 2009


8573 Comments


great review. I never cared much for Ministry anyway and this seems absolutely atrocious too.

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


One of the best reviews I've read in a while. Also, this should be featured on the front page just for content alone. I've always wanted to hear this and I will get around to it one day. Synth pop though? Jeez...

But I'm here to fill these gaping holes that nobody cares about.

I'm the same way and I hope you stick around on this site dude.

Metalstyles
Emeritus
October 25th 2009


8573 Comments


Also, this should be featured on the front page just for content alone.
agreed, at least on the metal page if not on the front page as this seriously is an awesomely written review.

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


Made me laugh pretty hard too.

Metalstyles
Emeritus
October 25th 2009


8573 Comments


yep, the humour aspect of this review is also well and cleverly presented.

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


Al Jourgensen would be proud : ).

Metalstyles
Emeritus
October 25th 2009


8573 Comments


i'll give this band another try becuase of this review. Anyone, name their best album now and i'll get it right after i get my SEV album.

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


Psalm 69, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and Rio Grande Blood.

RobotFrank
October 25th 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hey - thanks a lot. I'm a fan of both genres covered by Ministry, and you REALLY have to enjoy new wave to dig this album beyond "Revenge." If that track were placed on the Twelve Inch Singles compilation, this disk would be pointless to own - torturous history lesson, aside.

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


I used to listen to new wave when I was a kid (hahahaha) and I bet I would find this album fun. And the review is awesome once again.

RobotFrank
October 25th 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I would start with Psalm 69, but I think everything between '88 (The Land of Rape and Honey) and '96 (Filth Pig) is of high quality.



And Wizard - if you haven't already, like I said earlier, check out "Revenge". You will enjoy it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sET1lhBMNiU

Metalstyles
Emeritus
October 25th 2009


8573 Comments


goddamnit Karl, can't you pick one album :P?

EDIT. ok thanks RobotFrank, i'll get Psalm 69 then

Wizard
October 25th 2009


20202 Comments


Thats my favourite by them so I would recommend it as well.

Thanks for the link Robot. I will end up hunting this down and purchasing it.

RobotFrank
October 25th 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

If you do end up getting this, be sure to come back and comment about what you thought, I'm curious as to how others will take this. I listened to it way more than anyone should in order to write this, so I'm numb to its cheese factor and actually (kind of) enjoy it, regardless of my 2 rating.

CrazyFool84
October 25th 2009


1082 Comments


Sort of tried to get into this band at various points, nothing seemed to really take. I don't think I'll be checking this out based off your review (well done, btw) but is there a good place to start with these guys?

RobotFrank
October 25th 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Psalm 69 or The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.





JUST ONE FIX (Psalm 69)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVeGdafISGs



THIEVES (The Mind is a Terrbile Thing to Taste)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvNBdSerHVU



Thanks for reading and commenting. Appreciated.

Meatplow
October 25th 2009


5524 Comments


The Land of Rape and Honey and The Mind is A Terrible Thing to Taste are still my favourite Ministry.



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