red lights


Ministry's new political muse


Ministry - Houses of the Mole
(Sanctuary Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 11, 2004

Review by Tony Bonyata

From tainted love in his early days to death and religion on arguably the band's strongest effort to date Psalm 69, Ministry's ringleader Al Jourgensen has never been short on muses for his music.
While Ministry may have started out as a saccharine sweet synth-pop band in the early '80s, they soon started morphing into a darker creature with each passing album - from the shadowy industrial dance hits of "Everyday Is Halloween" and "All Day" from Twitch to the full-frontal metal assault of The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and Psalm 69. The works following, however, most notably the abysmal Filth Pig, would prove a mindless bludgeoning of the senses; a beating that found many longtime fans growing increasing tired of the same redundant grindcore pap.
On the band's latest effort Houses of the Mole Jourgensen and his new bandmates have returned to the blistering and varied metal of their gory, glory years of the early '90s and in the process they've also picked up a new muse - George W. Bush. On songs such as the opening "No W," complete with goose-stepping rhythms, demonic choir and battering-ram guitar lines, and the speed metal of "WTV" Jourgensen takes jabs at the president as he peppers in sound bytes of Bush as a foolish talking head.
While the overall tone of the Houses of the Mole is dark and foreboding, there are a couple of musical moments that seem almost out of character for this band. Despite the sense of hopelessness that prevails in the lyrics of "Worm" there is a 'stand up and make a change' attitude on the more positive number "World." And take away Jourgensen's menacing vocal delivery on both of these tracks and you might even find a trace of pop rock buried just below the surface of the choruses and melodies.
Whether his hatred for the Bush administration has inspired a more varied and interesting collection of songs, or he just got tired of regurgitating the same repetitive metal riffs over the last decade, the outcome is an album that, once again, finds Ministry back in fighting form.

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