Dec 2017 13

The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD – 10/19/2017
 

 

Known as much for his long history with alcohol and substance abuse as for his particular brand of industrial/metal, MINISTRY has proven to be the one habit that Al Jourgensen seems unwilling to break. Sure, this has often been a source of divisive opinions among his fan base, with many alienated either by Jourgensen’s renowned abrasive personality or by the varying shifts in the band’s sound and lineup over three-and-a-half decades. On the other hand, Jourgensen has disbanded MINISTRY on more than one occasion, with the most recent instance following the death of longtime guitarist and best friend Mike Scaccia in December of 2012 and the subsequent release of From Beer to Eternity in 2013, leading to another contingent of fans to express remorse and disappointment over the decision to discontinue the band even as he pursues other musical interests like Buck Satan and Surgical Meth Machine. In the end, it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation whose outcome could only be the inevitable return of MINISTRY; with the upcoming fourteenth album AmeriKKKant due for 2018, the band continues to make festival appearances and toured in 2017 with experimental hip-hop act Death Grips as the opener.

 

It has long been stated that the best MINISTRY albums are produced during a Republican administration, that party’s conservative and right wing politics often providing much fuel to Jourgensen’s creative fire. As such, it was no surprise to see symbols of outright scorn toward the current U.S. President in the props and projections, a pair of inflatable ducks clearly mocking his toupee and decorated with anti-Nazi logos flanking the stage. Though the song was written a decade ago during George W. Bush’s presidency, “Let’s Go” is as potent an opener as ever, with the band kicking into high gear from the onset as Jourgensen howls into the mic with the most energy he’s shown onstage in years. His dreads flailing as he waves his arms to the crowd like a lean and mean militant despot calling the masses to arms, screaming from his ceremonial skull adorned mic stand, all the apparent lip syncing of the previous tour was now replaced by ol’ Uncle Al’s distinguished roar, clearly delighting in the audience’s fervor with his banter between tracks.

 

The interplay among the band members was as much a well oiled machine as one could hope for, with drummer Derek Abrams and bassist Tony Campos locked in tight with the programmed beats and pulsating electronics and samples, delivered by John Bechdel and DJ Swamp. Though relegated to stationary positions behind their keyboards and drums, Abrams, Bechdel, and Swamp provided a reinforced wall of sound and rhythm like sonic turrets as tracks like “Bad Blood” and “So What” thrust through the speakers like a hydraulic piston. Topping that off was the furious machine gun assault of guitarists Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto, trading off the iconic riffs of “N.W.O.,” “Just One Fix,” and “Thieves” with the sort of fiery precision MINISTRY demands. The same can be said of latter day favorites like “Punch in the Face,” “LiesLiesLies,” and “Rio Grande Blood,” with Jourgensen and company unafraid to take visual and auditory potshots at all right wing administrations across time; but perhaps this is best exemplified in the two new tracks of the night, “Wargasm” and “ANTIFA,” both appearing on the upcoming AmeriKKKant, and the latter proving to be a polarizing but brutally welcome addition to the MINISTRY oeuvre. A pair of masked female figures dressed in stark guerilla fatigues march up and down the stage waving the red and black flag associated with the namesake, and the monstrous and monolithic opening of “ANTIFA” begins before launching into that trademark mechanical juggernaut that has defined MINISTRY’s best known songs. Jourgensen takes on the guise of a revolutionary leader as he intensely shouts “Sick and tired of dealing with assholes / that’s why I resist,” and “ANTIFA is coming for you / they won’t survive.”

 

At this point, this writer having made the erroneous assumption that the From Beer to EternaTour of 2015 would be MINISTRY’s last, it can now be said that the lesson must be learned that a force of nature like MINISTRY simply can’t be put down for long. Sure, the detractors will continue to try, either due to a disdain for the changes in the band’s sound and lineup, or more personally due to a dislike for the renowned, revered, and reviled front man’s acerbic personality. As Al Jourgensen has stated numerous times in speech and in song, he simply doesn’t give a fuck – the naysayers’ efforts simply can’t succeed as long as the world continues to feed his rage and arm his musical offensives. With AmeriKKKant due for release in Spring of 2018, MINISTRY’s 2017 tour proved to be an excellent primer for what is yet to come with a well balanced mix of favorites and newer material to appease longtime fans along with the newcomers. With the band once again touring in the next year with dark pop chanteuse Chelsea Wolfe, MINISTRY seems as powerful an entity as ever.

 

Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby) and Wally Reeves, courtesy of Wally Reeves Photography

 

MINISTRY/Al Jourgensen
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube

 

MINISTRY – Wally Reeves


 

MINISTRY – Tabetha Patton


 

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