Memory is such a funny thing. My memory of my relationship with this album is multi-layered. Going back to the first layer, I remember liking this a lot in high school. Or at least, I remember remembering that from the middle layer, at which point I remember thinking this didn’t hold up. But screw that, this is great. The only explanation I can give for thinking that maybe this wasn’t as good as I remembered was maybe I was focusing on the middle- to early-back-half of the album, where it does lose some steam. But that’s far from the full story here.
This is basically the first iteration of Ministry as they would be in their most successful incarnation. Drum machines are still prevalent, but there is a lot more guitar, it’s very up front in the mix, it’s distorted, and it’s fast and often played unconventionally. They wouldn’t break through until 1992, with refinements on this formula, and they were pretty out there even then, so these guys are way ahead of their time with this album in 1988.
Another big difference between this and their previous albums (and, by the way, I probably went too easy on Twitch after re-visiting how good this is) is that this has much less emphasis on VCV song structure. Here it’s pasted together riffs and sample-heavy soundscapes with an emphasis on sound design. It sounds as disturbing as the cover art. Speaking of which, I have no idea what it is and I’m still disturbed by it.
As I said before, there’s a gradual drop-off after you get past the first four songs of pure awesomeness. It never gets bad, though the plodding of “Flashback” comes close, but it gets less focused and more indulgent. All of the tracks sound better loud, when it’s at a volume where you can hear how the song is changing underneath; too quiet and it gets too repetitive. Thankfully, they pull it back for the last track, though, “Abortive,” which is very glitchy, much less heavy, and even has some jazzy elements to it. On a different day this might get 4.5 clowns.
– “Stigmata,” “The Missing,” “Golden Dawn,” “I Prefer”
– “Destruction,” “Hizbollah,” “The Land Of Rape And Honey,” “You Know Who You Are,” “Flashback”
Filed Between: Mini Mansions (Mini Mansions) and Ministry’s The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste
Song Notes: After the jump