Review Summary: Psalm 70 this album isn't, and for good reason.
Rather than releasing yet more rapid-fire movie samples and repetitive guitar licks, Ministry and company decided to shoot themselves in the feet with an album full of toxic sludge. Everything that they have established from The Land of Rape and Honey onward had been thrown out the window. Well, not exactly everything. After all, Filth Pig is essentially Ministry without the thrash influences. But to go from an album as corrosive and intense as Psalm 69 to a foggy, sometimes incoherent atmosphere of impending doom is truly something to behold.
"Reload" is a short, sort of trigger-happy song that's practically over within the blink of an eye. The clattering beats and searing hot guitar are all there, but the song somehow falls short of greatness. It pales in comparison to other fiery openers such as "Stigmata" or "N.W.O." Up next is "Filth Pig," a dirty, greasy dirge of a song. It starts with a rumble of drums and a noxious fume of thin guitar, but then after thirty seconds or so, it degenerates into a murky mixture of the filthiest elements imaginable, complete with a harmonica solo. "Lava" is very much like "Filth Pig" in the sense that it is slowed down metal music, only this one stands out because of its bellowing vocal sample from an insane preacher ("Be healed!") and its snare drums compressed to the extreme. However, by the time "Crumbs" starts to roll in, the album really starts to lose its factory-like atmosphere, which is a shame, considering that their industrial-meets-sludge-metal approach is what Ministry does best. The ennui carries over to "Useless," a track that most certainly lives up to its name. Other than the distorted sneer provided by Paul Barker, the whole song is nothing but a failed experiment.
Fortunately, the album gets somewhat better from there. Although "Dead Guy" does not have the industrial crunch of "Lava," it is still a great song, nonetheless. Very meat and potatoes alternative metal, but it sounds a bit like Helmet mixed in with Melvins, to say the least, and it has the right kind of crushing riffs to back it up. Stop-and-start "Gameshow" tries to sound convincing but doesn't quite make it, especially through seven minutes and forty-four seconds of runtime. "Scarecrow" may have been long, but at least it had samples, synthesizers, and drum programming added in to make it sound ominous, not to mention heavier guitars. "Gameshow" just lumbers along in its own drudgery too much to be enjoyable. But once the "Gameshow" wraps up, the "real" doom sets in one last time with "The Fall." Perhaps the only song on here with synths, it opens with a collage of Twitch-era sound effects and more claustrophobic drums before erupting into bleak, drawn-out chords and avalanches of descending keyboard notes where "everything is useless" and "nothing works at all." Not many other songs manage to capture hopelessness and its sonic qualities as well as "The Fall," which is definitely a major highlight of the album, and maybe even their whole discography.
Then a Bob Dylan cover comes on ("Lay Lady Lay"), and the vibe is killed off yet again, for this corpulent cover does not evoke the same atmosphere as other tracks on the record. Neither does it really sound like Ministry, aside from the watery vocals and thickened drums. making it an unnecessary addition. To close off an album as sludgy as Filth Pig, "Brick Windows" sets the tone by borrowing Killing Joke's early guitar sound (specifically from "Primitive") and combining it with pounding drums, the latter of which sound like someone repeatedly smashing their head against a ton of bricks surrounded by glass, as the title suggests. It ends the album on a strangely triumphant note, feeling like the top of a tower rather than its dungeon buried beneath the ground.
Filth Pig is a flawed album for sure, but at the same time, it offers some of Ministry's best ever songs. At worst, this album is a meandering mess, but at best, it's an overlooked experiment that has some potential. Psalm 70 this album isn't, and for good reason.
"The Fall" (BEST TRACK)
Overall Rating: 3/5