Ministry: Psalm 69

psalm69And finally we arrive at the summit. Here is Ministry at the height of their powers. Everything they’ve done since Twitch has led directly here. The guitar riffs are punishing. The vocals are brutally aggressive, desolate, and apocalyptical. It’s all awesome, but the most impressive aspect of all of it is the production. The sound of each element (and they are plentiful) is perfect and unique among the contemporary sonic landscape, and they all sound perfectly together. Each part plays its vital role but no more and you end up with a holistic masterpiece greater than the sum of its parts, which would have been a hefty sum on its own.

In 1992 the world was finally ready for this. You can, of course, give Nirvana a huge amount of credit for that (even though this sounds nothing like Nirvana), but I think Nirvana’s breakthrough was in large part due to bands like Ministry building up, ready to be awesome at this point, too. There had to be an underground ready to embrace Nirvana and catapult them into the mainstream, and Ministry did a lot of work to build that. When the CD-buying public was ready for something different because they liked the Hello Hello song, Ministry had put in the preparation to meet that opportunity that they themselves helped create. It’s all a virtuous cycle, he said.

The biggest problem with this album is “Scarecrow,” and not just that it’s the worst song on the album and that it’s too long at 8:41. But more that they almost center the album around it. It’s the first song on side two and is the big pivot from the more conventional (only relative to side two) songs of side one and the more architectural sonic experiments of side two. It works at breaking up the album, but something like the next song, “Psalm 69,” while being a stronger contrast with “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” the last song on side one, would probably be a better transition. “Scarecrow” just takes too much wind out of your sails at that point. It sounds great, just like everything else, but it’s an eminently skippable track.

And once you skip it, you’ve got a damned near perfect album. It is the exemplar of industrial metal as a genre. Nobody put together samples, guitar, and drum machines this perfectly before or after…even “Scarecrow” sounds awesome. The genre had to die after this album because you couldn’t do any more with it. Ministry did in fact kind of die after this. They took an awfully long time to get their next album out and, along with being met with poor reviews, the world had moved on by that time. I’ve never even heard it…I think I didn’t want to ruin this experience.

Mix: “Just One Fix,” “TV II,” “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” “Corrosion”
– “N.W.O.,” “Hero,” “Psalm 69,” “Grace”
– “Scarecrow”
Filed Between: Ministry’s The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and Minnesota Modern Rock Volume I (93.7 FM The Edge Sampler)
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. N.W.O. –
  2. Just One Fix –
  3. TV II –
  4. Hero –
  5. Jesus Built My Hotrod -k
  6. Scarecrow –
  7. Psalm 69 – One of my faves once it gets awesome and fast but takes a bit too long to get there to mix.
  8. Corrosion – Again, one of my faves, and even though it doesn’t take as long to get awesome, it’s still too sample-noodly at the start to mix.Aw hell, maybe I’ll mix it. Cuz it’s just too awesome. I mean, the track is basically perfect.
  9. Grace – Not enjoyable full heart, per se, but just so perfectly done and wonderful.

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