Industrial is one of the most varied genres in metal. You have the arty, almost progressive work of Nine Inch Nails. You have the pop of Machines of Loving Grace. You have the homoerotic, ambient stylings of Coil. You have the club sounds of KMFDM. You have the gothic stylings of Skinny Puppy. You have the pounding, more simplistic riffs of Rammstein.
Then we come to one of the bands at the forefront of the late 80's/early 90's industrial revolution; Ministry. Oddly enough, amongst all the rave in Germany, these guys (more like this guy) were from America. They take the computer-generated drum beats, vocal distortion and practically everything you can muck up an instrument with on a computer from all the bands mentioned above, but apply that to a more Thrash Metal structure. The riffs are mostly very fast, the beats very simple and the subject matter is, what else, politics and drugs.
Al Jourgensen began as a radio DJ and playing in lots of New Wave bands in the early 80's. Eventually this led to him forming Ministry, releasing With Sympathy on Aristas in 1983. He was dissatisfied with this New Wave synth-pop direction, and so were everyone else. I have not yet found one person who enjoys this record, it's pure trash to be honest. In 1985 he released the more Industrial focused Twitch on Sire Records. Whilst still yet to have any instruments other than synth and drum machine, it's slightly harsh and very enjoyable for a while, I like it.
With the band now a full 4-piece, they released the first thrash-orientated record, The Land of Rape and Honey. The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste followed this, then Psalm 69 in 1991 which is a classic and something every metal fan should own. Due to heroin problems the band had a very uninspired output in the 90's after this, with Filth Pig and The Dark Side of the Spoon considered disappointments by just about everyone. It's worth nothing that during the 90's they recorded the song Bad Blood for The Matrix and played in a scene in Steven Spielberg's A.I.
Now onto Animositisomina.
This was released in 2003 and hailed as an excellent return to form by those who bothered to purchase it. It's much more industrial and clubby than Psalm 69 and Houses of the Mole (2004), but still packs quite a punch. It has awesome atmosphere throughout and features more variety than most of their efforts.
I don't know the line-up of this, but I'm assuming it's just Al Jourgensen singing and programming with Paul Barker on bass and some guitarist.
Now, to the track-by-track;
1. Animosity (4:36)
After a little intro with guitars gradually coming in one by one and drum rolls all over the place, this track wastes no time in telling you what this album is about; catchy riffs, simple snare beats and fierce vocals. Al has a weird distortion over his voice, not as thick as on Just One Fix but it's still effective. The main riff is very odd, catchy and is definitely a classic for me. There's a very odd but somehow catchy solo by God knows what, it sounds like a synth but could be a weird guitar. Surprisingly for an Industrial outfit, the guitars aren't just playing the same riff over and over, it changes quite a bit to keep you interested. The higher voice in the chorus is once again weird but works. The track ends with Al repeating "animositisominatimosomina" (I think that's what he's saying) over and over with an awesome effect. And I almost forgot; the reverb-laden, soft snare in this song (and the whole album) is very strange and helps give it its own character.
Fierce in that Rammstein way; catchy, heavy and something you can both jump around and bang your head to. Shows the more "dance" side of Ministry. An Industrial classic.
2. Unsung (3:11)
I think the guitar in this is done with a tape effect, it makes it all the more distorted and lovely. The drums are actually doing something other than bang bang bang in this. After the little intro a very un-latter-day-Ministry thing happens; A synth comes in. This isn't a normal synth, it's slightly distorted and sounds unbelievable, even moreso with the guitar underneath it. The effect is amazing. The vocals in the verses have an echo to them and somehow remind me of U2. When the harsh vocals come in to the chorus, everything else gets heavy too.
The best track on this record. I wish they did more with it, because the synth and guitar relationship never pops up again, and it never really changes. Like Al said in a recent Decibel article; "the ingredients are there, but the oven needs to be hotter". I'd do so much more with this song, it's the most basic on here. Still, it's as catchy, unique, abrasive and fun as anything.
3. Piss (5:10)
Righteo. Right now, when you're listening to it, you're thinking "ok, here comes another party song". You couldn't be more wrong; this song has no buildup whatsoever and slams one of the heaviest riffs I've ever heard straight into your face. The snare drum has a bit more power than the other songs too. The riff changes and we have the distorted vocals, which become very much in the distance and echoey in the chorus. Al sings about how drugs are really pointless and he should be smart enough to not to go near them. The clean vocals in this can't be Al, I haven't any idea who it is, but unlike their others albums it is in almost all of the songs. My description makes it sound fast, it's actually one of the slowest songs on here. It has an odd atmosphere, it sounds like something you'd put on at a party when it's all getting a bit poppy. At the end we actually hear a few toms and then a big slam on the guitar finishes it off.
I never seem to get enough of this track, the two riffs just keep driving into you, and the vocals make it sound quite epic. The heaviest song on here, makes sense that it was a single.
4. Lockbox (4:46)
This was my favourite song of all time for a while. The guitar feedback at the beginning sounds like it was ripped right out of Tool's Stinkfist. The drum beat is unique and excellent, it goes with the guitar perfectly. The guitar riff is oddly mixed and sounds brilliant and atmospheric. Al's vocals are very watery and reverb-laden, adding to the whole atmosphere of the song. There's a very long section after the first chorus with guitars jumping all over the speakers and the drum beat changing, it seems pointless but it works. The chorus vocals are done by the clean vocalist again and... wow. The guitar riff actually changes in the chorus, unlike the other songs. This is the most inspiring, uplifting chorus I've ever heard, it has such atmosphere.
Nearly beats out Unsung, it just has a very uplifting and epic sound to it all, but still keeping the party feel. The beat is mega catchy and works wonders with the guitar riff, it's a perfect pairing. I will never get sick of this song.
5. Broken (4:52)
A very different, fuzzy guitar riff which, for such an atmospheric song, is very fast. It's actually the fastest on the album. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but is this that bloke from Butthole Surfers striking again" He has the same vocal effect and speaks a lot of country & western talk. Amazingly, this song has a section with a very dark synth easing its way in, and the vocals manage to be very dark too. I don't know how. Then there's, shock, an awesome guitar solo that goes all around the speakers, as always. The snare is once again less reverb-laden than the other songs. Now, there's another pause, which is soon stopped by the guitar playing a single chord very fast and then... one of the most atmospheric, eerie synths I've ever heard going around the speakers but it sounds very distant... it manages to scare me when I fall asleep to this. And, once again, the hillbilly vocals sound spooky. Oh, and the vocals aren't singing ultra-fast on here like Jesus Built My Hotrod.
Funnily enough this is a very atmospheric and spooky track, even though it's the fastest. The vocals will have to grow on you something shocking, they seemed very stupid to me for a while, made worse by the silly lyrics. A weird song for this album, but like I said at the beginning, this has variety galore. I love it.
6. The Light Pours Out of Me (4:27)
A cover of some 80's electronica band called Magazine. So predictably, none of the instruments do anything out of the ordinary. It's a very dance track, with the repetitive snare beat and single-chord synth in the chorus. The bass is ultra-prominent on this track and plays an awesome riff. The guitar is very simple and reverb-laden, adding to the feel. It's almost a depressing track but not quite, I'd say it's melancholic. And besides, there's a very upbeat part which is preceded by a great snare roll. Al's vocals aren't as upfront and distorted in this song, they almost sound like they've been put through a tape recorder.
Not what you'd call metal, it's not heavy in the slightest, but it still fits with the album somehow. Once again, very danceable but also a good song for when you're all mopey. It's rather... unexcited" But still good.
7. Shove (5:53)
Very unique drum beat, with the toms actually included. The snare is still very light but has almost no reverb on it, it's a welcome break really. And once again the bass can be heard and is playing something very simple but catchy. In the verses the guitar just plays something very atmospheric which lets the drums and bass do their thing, which is good. Al's vocals in the verse have loads and loads of reverb on them, it bounces everywhere. And no distortion. Then we get the most aggressive part of the album, it's very short but Al's hyper-distorted and mad vocals and the fast, heavy guitar hook straight into you. We get the verse again and then yeah, the aggressive bit ends the song with a different riff.
A bit of an experiment, which is a very rare thing for Ministry these days. Just when you think it's all soft and house-y, a very aggressive section plows into you. The dynamic works well and it's a welcome breath of fresh air... but to be honest it doesn't really have any catchiness to it, besides the drum beat. So it's actually pretty average.
8. Impossible (7:43)
About a minute of guitar feedback warbling its way around the speakers, it's almost like a prelude, begins this long track. Then a little guitar ditty and BOOM! This song has no real metal in it whatsoever besides the hyper-distorted bass, it sounds like it's intended for a good night out. The clean vocalist just says two words in the chorus with the reverb dragging them out for a while. Now what happens is after the feedback we get the guitar (it might be a synth, actually) playing one note off in the distance over the loud drums and distorted, loud bass. This is the heaviest bass I've ever heard. Then a guitar riff comes in which goes all over the speakers and takes a while to get used to, it just goes with the whole spacey feeling of the song. All of the instruments in the song besides the bass and drums (and Al's vocals, which have a weird tape effect on them and are only in it for a bit) sound like they're off in the distance. There's a guitar solo which sounds out of place on paper, but does the song's feel wonders. At the end, which lasts for minutes, it's just the clean vocals getting messed around with by computer which is lovely for the whole dance feel, the guitar doing a minimal riff, the bass doing the same thing at the start, same with the drums, and another guitar riff overdubbed with a very heavy tape effect which makes it sound like it's squirting... or something. Very odd.
A truly epic song, it has some of the best production I've heard, and the atmosphere is truly unique, I can't explain it other than saying you can just see people raving about to it in some kind of club. Something completely different, a song that should be a classic. The only downpoint is the main guitar riff, which takes getting used to and can sometime be annoying with how it jumps around the speakers, and the fact that it sometimes can seem very drawn out.
9. Stolen (4:09)
The bassist, Paul Barker, sings on this and sounds just as fierce as Al. I think this has another tape effect, maybe it's just a computer effect. Anyway, everything except the drums (which have a weird beat to them) is almost drowned out in fuzz. I don't know what the fuzzed out instrument is, whether it's a guitar or synth. But there's something in the chorus that's definitely a guitar, still fuzzed out but audible. The guitar does a solo too... it's the most random, fuzzy thing I've ever heard. The main little tune that goes throughout is very odd.
The only song I can't picture being played at a party, because it's really just fuzz. It sounds cool, though. Other than the novelty of the tape effects, it's really not very memorable and probably my least favourite on here.
10. Leper (9:01)
This is when Ministry get a little weird. An ambient instrumental. Begins with an acoustic riff which... might not be acoustic but it sounds like it for sure. Just sounds too, gritty" Anyway, it always makes me picture someone driving down the highway at night. One of my favourite riffs ever. While this is being done there is samples and weird effects going on all over the joint. Somehow, it works and gives it an amazing atmosphere. At about the 2:40 mark this weird, warbling sound comes in that does a little solo, I guess. There's a clicking sound that goes through it all, but you actually can't really notice it. Then, most of the sounds go out and just when you think everything's gone, an electric riff comes in. This is about 4:10... so it's quite a repetitive tune (if it's even a tune). Then a snare. I simply cannot describe this riff... it gives me an incredible feeling, it has to be my favourite Ministry riff. But BIG MISTAKE: the mixing pushes it back so you almost have to dig it out. I hate that, it keeps this from being my favourite track. And I don't really think it needs the drums. The acoustic riff keeps going but it's barely audible. The samples and feedback are less prominent when this riff is going on, but they still help the song immensely and stop it from getting redundant. It ends by very gradually fading out which is excellent.
I just cannot do this track justice. See, Mr. Reznor, you don't need complicated arrangements and stacks of layering and dubbing to make awesome atmosphere. This rivals Nine Inch Nails instrumentals. A perfect, and I mean PERFECT way to end an album. And a perfect way to end any night. Who cares if it's just the same riff for 4 minutes, and then another riff for 5 minutes" They may be my favourite two riffs ever. Just a big mistake with the mixing, I want to hear that riff nice and loud, just like it begins.
It's worth mentioning that the first time I listened to this album I was reading Animal Farm. So for months I had very visceral, ugly imagery associated with this album, which helped me grow into it. But it's really not ugly, it's very pretty in places and much more "industrial" than the classics Psalm 69 and Houses of the Mole. It's my favourite Ministry album by far.
I don't think I ever mentioned the lyrics. They're pretty standard metal fare, not overly special but they suit the songs wonderfully. They're more personal than any other of Al's efforts.
Definitely a 5/5 for me. Reccomended for fans of any industrial metal and anyone who likes Rammstein, KMFDM, Skinny Puppy, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult etc. Nine Inch Nails fans may find this a little silly and simple, though.
Anyone looking for the more metal, harsh side of Ministry should check out Psalm 69, Houses of the Mole and any other of their more thrash-orientated, political records.
I finish with my favourite line from the album (from Unsung)
"Did they touch God or did they touch the sun""