Filth Pig



by Ladakh USER (2 Reviews)
September 17th, 2011 | 37 replies

Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sadly underrated album that rewards repeated listens.

Filth Pig is very much the dark sheep of the exceptionally dark Ministry canon. As one reviewer close to here (go find) baldly states, “Due to heroin problems the band had a very uninspired output in the 90’s….. with Filth Pig and The Dark Side of the Spoon considered disappointments by just about everyone.” A bold opinion indeed, but one likely shared by many weaned on the pummelling electro infused industrial that the band had been developing since the left turn of The Land of Rape and Honey in 1988.

This album was always one that was going to prove divisive, as it was the follow up to what can only be called (in Ministry terms) the smash hit success of Psalm 69: The way to succeed & the way to suck eggs in 1992, which went to #27 on the Billboard charts. That release helped crystallise the growing popularity of industrial metal, which was to then be taken to the next level by the explosion of Nine Inch Nails and The Downward Spiral two years later.

Much was written and documented about the struggles of Trent Reznor to come to terms with his success and create the follow up to The Downward Spiral, and this parallels the struggles of Al Jourgenson and Paul Barker in creating their own follow up. Both Filth Pig and The Fragile were relative commercial failures, but this does not mean either were creative failures. While recording Filth Pig, long time drummer Bill Rieflin left half way through, and heroin (plus assorted other soft and hard drugs) assumed an increasingly important role in the band’s day to day affairs. There was therefore plenty of personal and creative tension to go around in the Ministry camp, and this helped them to create the most dense and dark album of their career to date.

Gone are the razor sharp guitars and hammering industrial snare of yore, and with them the layered but crystal clear production found in previous outings. In their place we find layers of crackling, rippling industrial fug that lies thickly over most of the record, giving the whole exercise a dirty, backstreet, down-and out feeling. It is almost as if Al Jourgenson went on a four year binge on crack and gasoline, and woke up to find this music on his tongue before reaching for the industrial grade mouthwash. The production has little warmth, combining tinny gated guitars, crunchy doom laden riffing, and a truly crushing and rumbling bottom end courtesy of a rejuvenated Paul Barker (who deserves his place right back at the forefront of the mix). At times it feels like Ministry are channelling Godflesh at their grinding, inhuman best, but there is no mistaking, despite the production, that there is a real organic soul to the record.

While Psalm 69 relied on fast and repetitive snare shots and some thudding programmed beats, Filth Pig achieves some real groove, due in the most part to some great acoustic drumming by Rey Washam, who came into the process after the exit of Bill Rieflin. Compare Rieflin’s mechanical efforts on Lava to Washam’s fills that bring Dead Guy and Game Show to life to make sense of the difference. The acoustic drumming is just one other way that Ministry were to confound expectations with this album, and show fans eager for Psalm 69 II that they would go their own way.

Game Show provides the beating heart of the album, and perfectly illustrates many of the great things about this record. There is a tense, staccato build up of dry riffs, before the song explodes into technicolour with its dramatic choral fall into despair. The power and layering of the guitars is breathtaking, and the subsequent layering of screeching feedback into an ethereal sonic mosaic sends shivers up the spine. The most telling thing, though is that like most of the album, the song is based around a few simple, churning riffs, played at dirge-like pace, yet is never seems to drag, and when the final loops of feedback ring into the ether, you are left wanting more.

Ministry have an astonishing knack of taking the seemingly mundane, and adding those perfect touches, overlays and flourishes that bring it to life. Whether it is the more obvious reverberating piano cascades the take over mid way through The Fall, or the trail of feedback that seeps from the end of the solos in Dead Guy, they execute these touches brilliantly. Occasionally, as with Useless, despite the eventual addition of a gritty guitar harmony and some creepy falsetto backing vocals, the plodding riff will already have bored you enough to flick to the next track. However, they generally tease out and develop tracks at a pace that draws you in further, much like the small variations in When the levee breaks that make it a fascinating, rather than monotonous experience.

Songs like Reload, Dead Guy and Crumbs riff hard enough to tempt metalheads of that persuasion into a vigorous flurry of coordinated head and neck movements, whilst Filth Pig, Game Show and the dramatic and impressive The Fall lure you into their web more slowly, before their atmosphere puts you into a trancelike state. Then, just when you feel you have the album figured out, up pops a cover of Bob Dylan’s gentle, country-tinged classic Lay Lady Lay, which retains the whistful chord progression of the original (plus the acoustic guitar strumming), before making the chorus soar upwards with a glorious lead line that Dylan himself should consider incorporating into his own version if he has a mind to take it to the stage again.

In the same vein as The Fragile, and even Angel Dust, Ministry released an album that broke with the successful blueprint of their previous outing, and were chastised and even ignored by many as a result. However, they created an album that melds doomy, low bottom riffs with subtle and sometimes spectacular industrial flourishes, which strikes deep at a mood of frustration and darkness that you might not even know you had, and leaves you wondering at the twisted geniuses that were able to pull it all together. Ministry, I salute you, and let the rehabilitation of the Filth Pig start here.

user ratings (313)
other reviews of this album
Liam8VIII (5)
Industrial pioneers Ministry's overlooked and unaccepted industrial, sludge and doom masterpiece....

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 18th 2011


Great review sir, maybe I'll give this a listen.

September 18th 2011


Good review but I agree to disagree. I pos'd.

September 18th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

only got the mind and psalm i'll check this

Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

totally agree with you! Filth Pig is great. pos

However, The Fragile is way different

Digging: Asthma Castle - Mount Crushmore

September 18th 2011


This is the album that got me into Ministry.

September 19th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

One hell of a review. Big Ministry fan here, but never listened to this.

September 19th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

However, The Fragile is very different

I totally agree. I ummed and aahhed when putting that in as I was struggling to think of comparisons, but listed it on the back of mentioning it in the review. Have now kicked it and replaced with World Coming Down, as that has a similar way of grinding through, yet adding colour in all the right places.

This is the album that got me into Ministry

Snap brother! This was also the case for me, and it remains my favourite of their albums as I know it so well. This review originally started off with high falutin' paragraph on the pointlessness of reviewing without taking into account prior feelings and experiences, which I wrote as I wasn't sure I could really review this objectively, due to the fact I grew up with it from spawn to man.

Cheers for all the Pos's guys

November 28th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

"Sadly underrated album that rewards repeated listens."

Prior to this album Ministry were makers of albums that grabbed you by the balls. Filth Pig is unfortunately an album that sits comfortably in the background perfectly content to not be noticed at all.

November 28th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

POS, I did like the review.

November 28th 2011


So you prefer having your balls grabbed?

February 18th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent review man!

October 23rd 2012


I definitely agree that this album does NOT deserve the bad rep it gets. I've always liked it a lot. I think "Game Show" is creepy as hell.

November 12th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

In my top five albums of all time. Great review, perfectly summed.

December 30th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Great album. Got some bad critics during release. Much more diverse and interesting than psalm69.

July 25th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Game Show is amazing

March 29th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

this shit is nasty.

January 4th 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

Album is Filthy. Reload is such a great opener and transitions nicely into the title track. Wish this album would get its due,

May 16th 2015


Album Rating: 3.0

Reload is a fantastic opener, wish the mandolin solo was mixed higher though

June 14th 2015


Not sure why this album gets shit on as the weak point in Ministry's catalogue. It is filthy and sludgy as hell — like they recorded the whole thing in a sewer.

June 14th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

It grows boring after a while, but yeah definitely far from the worst. Also, there's a mandolin solo in Reload?

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