After spending the week wrestling with my own bad conscience, trying to decide just how accountable to hold myself for the music I own by murderers, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other sorts of people with whom I do not hold, it’s something of a blessing to listen to something I can wholeheartedly support: the most recent Ministry record is loud, it is pissed, and it is pissed for all the right reasons. We are tangled in the thresher of a very stupid war, we are governed by mendacious, authoritarian idiots who have committed very real crimes against whatever morality we collectively share, and our society is beset by corruption – corporate, environmental, moral – on all sides. Al Jourgenson belts out all these sentiments and more with the same cartoony hard-edged clarity that has always been Ministry’s stock in trade.
The Last Sucker is a very fine Ministry album on its own merits, being at least as good as Psalm 69, and having one or two songs that are far better than anything on that album. Somewhere along the line Ministry transformed from an arty industrial techno parody of thrash metal into the real thing, and on this album they can stand toe to toe with Strapping Young Lad – the band who, in my opinion, took the latent promise of Burning Inside and converted it into something powerful and real, in much the same way that the Pinocchio at the end of the tale is more real than the puppet at the beginning. It’s not real subtle, but isn’t that the point?
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Ministry is a product of Clan Bush. Ministry’s finest albums (
StigmataThe Land of Rape and Honey and Burning InsideThe Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, of course) were a product of Bush I, and during the Clinton years, Jourgenson – and Ministry – sunk into a torpor that has only lifted in the last couple years of Bush II’s seemingly endless reign. There have been tons of distractions in Jourgenson’s life (smack, booze, swingin’ dick contests with ex-bandmates and miscellaneous others), but I have this pet theory that he takes the Bushes personally, and that’s what reignited his fire. They’ve fucked up his country, they’ve fucked up the world, and – most importantly – they’ve fucked up the reputation of Texas, and that shit will not stand.
Looked at in that light, it makes sense that Jourgenson claims The Last Sucker will be the final Ministry album. This time next year, the Texans will have left the White House (at least until the Jenna / Barb ticket in 2024), and the United States will in all likelihood have an entirely different set of problems to confront. Jourgenson’s bête noir will have retired to the ranch, obdurate in his refusal to take any responsibility for the wholesale fuckup that was the 43rd Presidency. In my mind I see Jourgenson with a bottle of Jägermeister in one hand, watching the George W Bush Library burn to the ground as the tears stream down his face, having come as close as he dares to facing down his own Colonel Kurtz at last.
From my inbox, just because it’s funny. 20ML are just as witty, self-deprecating and clever in person.
Over 200 tickets have already been pre-sold for our Noise Pop show, so consider this an early heads-up for those of you who would like to see us perform with a British band more buzzy than a beehive.
In the spirit of this election year, we are happy to inform you that 20 Minute Loop has been VOTED into this year’s Noise Pop festival! That’s right. Instead of carefully cultivating our indie cred, or mixing with the right people (without seeming to care or be aware about it, in true indie fashion), or being signed by a really cool label like Absolutely Kosher or Barsuk, or just catching that unpredictable luck wave that has captured a few worthy acts over the years—instead of those possibilities, we have been selected by popular election to appear in this year’s biggest music festival. We have you, the voters—our music-loving constituents—to thank. Democracy in action. And let us tell you right now: we will not discredit the opportunity you have given us. We sense a desire on your part for CHANGE; not the empty promises of beltway hipsters, but real, positive change. More stimulus packages that actually work: individually-packaged breath mints in a Pyrex bowl placed between the monitors, more projectile vomiting into our sneakers, more goats slaughtered, more of the kinds of things that are meaningful to people like Emily Swansea in Alameda, a young woman who has been disappointed by the timid live performances of her favorite bands to the point that she now refuses to lavish any portion of her modest income on twenty-dollar performances that simply replicate recordings. Emily’s struggle is your struggle.
The newest Darkthrone, F.O.A.D. (no prize for guessing the acronym), sounds more like Darkthrone than ever before. It seems like they've finally found a way to combine their original, raw black metal sound with the devil-may-care (ha! ha!) punky thrash / thrashy punk of The Cult Is Alive or Sardonic Wrath. They're as tongue-in-cheek as ever, from the thudding midtempo musicology lecture that is "Canadian Metal" to the drily sarcastic potshots Fenris (the chief songwriter) takes at Nocturno Culto (the only other band member) in the liner notes. They absolutely have a formula, and they have it down cold, and they don't care if you don't like it. They're more likely to get on a plane and fly to your home town so they can piss on your lawn than they are to apologize for making music you don't like, or think isn't blackened enough, or whatever pointless, stupid complaints you feel like making. Ulver once tried to pull off this kind of truer than trve kvlt attitude and it came across as amusingly pseudo-intellectual bullshit (even though Nattens Madrigal is still a total kick in the pants); with Darkthrone there's only a faint whiff of meta hanging around, and by F.O.A.D. it's almost completely gone.