Nov 012015

Rearview Mirror


Here we are, the day after Halloween, and I am amazingly clear-headed. Clear-headed enough to compile another look backward into the metal of yesteryear. Today the focus is on Ministry, mainly because earlier this week two of my Facebook friends happened to post on their walls, within an hour of each other, the first video you’ll find below plus one other. They reminded me of how much I used to like this band.

The first video is worth a bit of commentary. It originally appeared on a VHS video called In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up, which documented Ministry’s 1989-1990 tour in support of their album The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. For that tour, Ministry founder Al Jourgensen recruited a big live line-up that included two drummers (regular drummer William Rieflin plus Martin Atkins), Chris Connelly (keyboards and vocals), Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy (vocals and keyboards), Joe Kelly (vocals and backing vocals), and guitarists Mike Scaccia, Terry Roberts, and William Tucker — in addition to Jourgenson himself and Ministry bassist Paul Barker.


Ministry live


On the link for this video that was posted on FB, I saw a comment from someone who said he was at the show where this particular song performance was filmed, at a venue called Star Plaza that usually catered to country bands and other acts not remotely similar to what Ministry were up to. As you can tell from the video, chaos ensued. The song is “Thieves”.

I’m also including another live clip from that VHS, a performance of the song “So What”, plus a lesser known track called “Smothered Hope”, which is a remastered studio audio recording of a song that was included as a B side to the “Burning Inside” single released in 1989.

Moving forward in time, you’ll also find the 1992 single “N.W.O.” from Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs; “Lava” from Filth Pig (1996); a live tour performance of the title track to 2006’s Rio Grande Blood; and “Yellow Cake” from that same album.

And then of course I have to include Ministry’s 1984 single “(Every Day Is) Halloween”, even though it’s before they got metal.










  1. Cheap high school nihilism meets repetitive riffs and Killing Joke’s effects processors. I don’t like to be negative on NCS but Ministry…just so overrated.

  2. The time period of “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste” and “Psalm 69” was high school for me, which is when I started listening to metal. I never really got into Ministry, but I remember that the people around me who really liked them were not really metal-heads. They were more often into punk rock, and maybe N.I.N. and groups like that. This is just an observation from my past.

  3. Smothered Hope is a Skinny Puppy song from their first EP Remission from released in 1984. I love how Ministry sold out first then slowly, one album at a time going crazier and crazier. The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste is my favorite, though I do love Gibby Haynes on Jesus Built My Hotrod. Ministry may have borrowed some from Killing Joke but they, in turn, influenced a lot of other bands.

  4. Ministry is definitely a name I need to look in to further – I’ve heard tracks here and there, but I’m really liking the tracks featured here. Incidentally Kuma’s Burger of the month was named after Ministry last month – really mad I didn’t get over and try what sounds like a goddamn masterpiece of a burger:

    “Bacon Fat Aioli, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Fried Gouda Cheese, Caramelized Vegetable Medley, Red Wine Gravy, and Fresh Thyme”

  5. I remember in my early twenties what a big deal it was that Ministry filmed the “Just One Fix” video in my hometown. It featured our local celebrity, William S. Burroughs, and shots of the band performing were filmed at a popular local studio where my band had recorded. I didn’t really follow them much after that.

  6. Love Ministry, saw them twice in 1999. I love it when they’re super slow and grimy, Scarecrow and Filth Pig are two songs I’ve listened to so many times in the last 16 years and still cut deep.

  7. Random rearview recollections by an old codger…

    I like parts of Animositisomina (more the tinny sound and a few melodies in select songs) but after this album Ministry lost me hard and fast. It’s really unfortunate that Jourgensen shat all over his legacy over the last 10 years or so. The last 5 rehashes really cheapen what went before.

    Still, there are a number of great albums. I remember in high school, a friend received Land of Rape and Honey for a birthday present. He hated it so much much that he gave it to me. This was around the time that Psalm 69 came out. Prior to filesharing, streaming etc the only way to hear and album you didn’t own was to buy it, tape it or hold out for video replays on music TV.

    TLORAH blew my mind, it was so savage, so primitive, so nasty. At the time, I thought it was the album that came AFTER TMIATTTT because it was so raw and unhinged…

    But my favourite would be Filth Pig. It’s just so languid, torpid, strung out and despondent. I spent many summer stoned afternoons on a plush chair at my best friends house with cricket on the TV in an empty house on a cattle farm in decline listening to this album and just not giving a fuck.

    I recently revisited DSOTS. I hated that album so much that I returned it… but time smiles on this release. It sounds like the heroin addiction was really off the rails at this point. It’s “zanier” than Filth Pig but it’s also more drug fucked and on the edge… and given time and repeated spins, the more “experimental” stuff holds up really well.

    • What a great comment — really enjoyed reading it, especially this line: “I spent many summer stoned afternoons on a plush chair at my best friends house with cricket on the TV in an empty house on a cattle farm in decline listening to this album and just not giving a fuck.” 🙂

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