When it comes to Industrial sounds the godfathers of industrial such as Godflesh, Skinny Puppy and Killing Joke have opened up the gates for modern industrial giants such as Ministry who continue to influence the masses. With a history that spreads its roots from Chicago and beyond, whether it be with other projects or experiments…
Bow down to Ministry! \m/
Starting out as a synthpop group Ministry were formed from the ashes of Special Affect and Silly Charmichaels which were both fronted by Al Jourgensen, alongside the drummer, Harry Rushakoff (Concrete Blonde) and members of The Imports on the latter.
Jourgensen provided vocals and guitar with Stephen George on drums. These two key members were accompanied by Robert Roberts and John Davis on keyboards. Ministry released four 12″ singles on Wax Trax! Records and the debut With Sympathy (1983), released on Arista Records.
After George left Ministry, Jourgensen signed to Sire Records. Twitch (1986) was considered to be more of a solo effort with the help of producer, Adrian Sherwood. The music was more electronic and had an aggressive underground vibe to it.
Jourgensen returned to guitar and vocals, joined by bassist Paul Barker and drummer William Rieflin, both from Seattle outfit, The Blackouts. The Land of Rape and Honey (1988) was released with the Ministry sound seeing a historic change, which would only get heavier with records to come.
1000 Homo DJs was one of many side projects for Jourgensen who went by the moniker of Buck Satan. The main focus for the project was releasing outtakes from The Land of Rape and Honey.
Frontman Jourgensen kept busy with a number of side projects, forming the industrial Revolting Cocks with Richard 23 (Front 242) and Luc Van Acker. Big Sexy Land (1986) and Beers, Steers, and Queers (1990) were both released before Ministry‘s next record.
Rieflin provided drums for the first three records with Linger Ficken’ Good (1993), being his last. Barker was a long time member. Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis) played on this record with the follow-up, Cocked and Loaded (2006) being his last. Sin Quirin (Society 1) took over guitar duties on the latest release, Got Cock? (2010) being part of the RevCo line-up.
Going by the alter-ego of Alien Dog Star, Jourgensen formed Acid Horse with Tennessee King (Barker), Gallopin’ Scorpiosaddlebutt aka. Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks) and Biff (Stephen Mallinder), Harold Sandoz (Richard H. Kirk) both from English electronic synthpop group, Cabaret Voltaire. No Name, No Slogan (1989) was the only single released by Wax Trax! records.
Jourgensen contributed with Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) for the short-lived Pailhead, releasing a number of singles, I Will Refuse (1987), Man Should Surrender (1988) and Don’t Stand in Line (1988). An EP, Trait (1988) was a collection of these singles.
Barker worked alongside Jourgensen for his side projects and also had his solo project, Lead into Gold which featured Jourgensen and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) who provided additional guitar.
Jourgensen also teamed up with Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedy‘s) for the hardcore industrial outfit, Lard releasing two 12″EP’s, The Power of Lard (1989), I Am Your Clock (1990) and the debut full-length The Last Temptation of Reid (1990). Rieflin and Jeff Ward were drummers on records. Pure Chewing Satisfaction (1997) and 70’s Rock Must Die (2000) would be Ward‘s final recordings due to the tragic suicide in 1993 from carbon monoxide poisoning. Scaccia also provided additional guitar on two tracks and one on the latter.
Credited as Alien Jourgensen, Jourgensen worked with industrial influences, Skinny Puppy, producing Rabies (1989) contributing a guitar driven sound, notably on tracks such as Tin Omen and Fascist Jock Itch.
The release of The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) was a joint effort from Jourgensen and Barker, however, it involved an intensive touring line-up for the promotion of the record which included the likes of Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks), Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy on vocals and keyboards with Joe Kelly on backing vocals and guitarists Mike Scaccia, Terry Roberts, and William Tucker. Martin Atkins joined Rieflin as a second drummer.
Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992), brought Ministry into the mainstream with a great deal of airplay from Jesus Built My Hotrod which featured a drunken Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers) who had stumbled into a Chicago studio and let out some gibberish which was edited in two weeks and can be heard in all its glory on that very track below.
This album was also the first to feature guitarists, Mike Scaccia and Louis Svitek. The Anti-Bush theme was present in the lyrics with a protest of The Persian Gulf War in the track N.W.O. Another notable mention was the collaboration with poet/novelist William S. Burroughs on the track Just One Fix.
The follow-up, Filth Pig (1996) saw a tough time on the Ministry camp due to drugs and depression. It was the last time Scaccia would perform guitar until Houses of the Mole (2004). The infamous Sphinctour was a result and the tour between April–July 1996 was documented in all its depraved glory and released as a live concert video, Sphinctour (2002).
The name “Filth Pig” was based on Jourgensen being referred to as a filthy pig by British MP Teddy Taylor. Despite the humorous cover of a man holding an American flag with raw meat dripping down his head, gone was the humour in the lyrics. Synths were stripped with the use of heavy guitar, bass and real drums.
Bob Dylan original, Lay Lady Lay made for an interesting cover choice and can be heard in all its glory below.
Clearly a play on words on the Pink Floyd classic, Dark Side of the Moon ( 1973), Dark Side of the Spoon (1999) was a tribute to guitarist William Tucker who was part of the touring band for The Mind is a Terrible Thing To Taste (1989), and had died after committing suicide. The record looked at the dark sign of the spoon as a way to distant itself from heroin which was focused on in earlier work. Several members had succumbed to abuse from the deadly drug.
The single Bad Blood featured on The Matrix soundtrack (1999) and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2000. The seventh album for Ministry was also the final release with Warner Bros. Records.
Although recording on and off through 1998- 1999 and in 2002 at Sonic Ranch, El Paso, Texas, Animositisomina (2003) didn’t see the light of day for some time due to Ministry going into hiatus. Notably the last record for Barker and the first with Sanctuary Records, it is the record that Jourgensen would rather forget.
Tough times included almost losing an arm due to a venomous spider bite, having a toe amputated after accidentally stepping on a discarded hypodermic needle. Jourgensen found himself suicidal and had to give up his habit which included speedballs (heroin/cocaine), crack, LSD, various pharmaceuticals and two bottles of Bushmills Whiskey per day.
Another unlikely cover was chosen with Magazine and The Light Pours Out of Me (1978). The singles for Animosity and Piss were never released due to lack of sales.
Notably, the first album without Barker, Houses of the Molé (2004) saw the return of guitarist Scaccia. With a number of satirical samples of president George W. Bush, check out No W, Waiting etc. All songs apart hidden track Psalm 23 which leads to track 69, Walrus, another hidden track all start with the letter W.
Mark Baker provided drums on the record and Jourgensen shared bass duties with John Monte (Human Waste Project, M.O.D). Jourgensen stated that the album title was a tribute to the Led Zeppelin album, House of the Holy (1973), with the word Molé being the name of a Mexican sauce made from chocolate. Nearly black in colour, representing crude oil.
A departure from Sanctuary Records, Rio Grande Blood (2006) the second part in the Anti-Bush trilogy, was the first to be released on Jourgensen‘s very own label, 13th Planet, Megaforce.
Scaccia provides lead guitar on The Great Satan (Remix) with Tommy Victor (Prong) sharing guitar duties with Jourgensen. Paul Raven (Killing Joke) mainly played bass on the record. Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) also provided a spoken word intro to Ass Clown.
The final part of the Anti-Bush trilogy, The Last Sucker (2007), was the last to feature Raven who died in 2007 from a heart attack. This was the first record to feature guitarist Sin Quirin who joined Victor. Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) also gave guest vocals on Die in a Crash, and End of Days.
The Doors were covered with Roadhouse blues and the song also appeared on Cover Up (2008), which saw a number of covers from T-Rex‘s Bang a Gong (Get It On) to the industrial rendition of Louis Armstrong‘s What a Wonderful World.
In terms of popularity, a documentary even surfaced, that being the controversial Fix: The Ministry Movie (2011).
Ministry reunited in 2011 and took part in Wacken 2012 with Jourgensen, Scaccia, Victor, Tony Campos (Static-X), drummer Aaron Rossi and John Bechdel on keyboards as the line-up.
Relapse (2012) featured guitar from Scaccia, Victor and Sin Quirin. Campos provided most of the bass on the recording. Scaccia raved about the album with it being the heaviest thing he had done. Sadly while on stage with Rigor Mortis, Scaccia died from a heart attack on December 23, 2012.
Jourgensen decided to disband Ministry with From Beer to Eternity (2013) said to be the final release after the death of best friend Scaccia. Since then touring has continued and there is the talk of a follow-up album. The touring band for the Relapse tour apart from Victor had recorded sessions for the album and after the tragic death of Scaccia, Jourgensen and co-producer Sammy D’Ambruoso spent three months putting the finishing touches on the album.
Always keeping busy with his love of country music Jourgensen has produced Liquor in the Front (1994) for Reverend Horton Heat and teamed up with Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Campos and Scaccia for Bikers Welcome Ladies Drink Free (2011) going by the Buck Satan moniker as used with 1000 Homo DJ’s in the past, creating a country-punk project going by, Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters.
Keeping to his industrial roots, Jourgensen teamed up with Sammy D’Ambruoso and Surgical Meth Machine was the result. Surgical Meth Machine (2016) was released through Napalm Records, showing Jourgensen is an unstoppable force who’s music will continue to burst our eardrums with industrial metal bliss.
Ministry continues to influence industrial metal groups to this day with alternative industrial-metallers, Dope covering Thieves on their latest, Blood Money Part 2 (2017) due out later this year. The political satire is present in the video below. The humour should approve the general Ministry fan.
Ministry welcomes the New World Order and new music from Uncle Al and the Ministry camp is hopefully on the horizon!