Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Album Review: Ministry - "The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste" (1989)

ministry [1989] the mind is a terrible thing to ta

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste

Let me get a few things out of the way here. First, Ministry is one of my favorite bands. Second, I am a huge fan of industrial music. That said... This, which is often considered to be Ministry's, or even industrial music's (or at least industrial rock/metal's) finest hour, doesn't take me to such heights of elation for some reason, even though I do like it. I feel that its reputation precedes it. Why is that? Well, I like the songs. I quite dislike "Test" but other than that I enjoy everything on here. However, this album's gestation and recording/production period was a chaotic mess and it shows here, to the point where, though the quality is fairly consistent, the album seems to fail as a cohesive work. It's certainly not a bad thing that there is a lot of experimentation with different styles, but it just doesn't work as well as it could. Feels like it could have been stitched together better.

This was the first album with the main team being the trio of Al Jourgensen, Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin (though poor Rieflin, as always with these guys, is not credited as an actual member of the band.) Also on board in various roles are Nivek Ogre, Chris Connelly, and several lesser-known people that Al and/or Paul decided to collaborate with. This creates the album's problem with feeling disjointed; different tracks had material written by different people, some parts were written or recorded for other, non-Ministry projects, and it has been said that during this time, Al became obsessed with the idea of being a 'puppet master' conducting a crowd of guest collaborators, rather than just putting his all into it and getting assistance where it was warranted.

Again, most of the songs themselves are good; "Thieves", "Burning Inside" and "Breathe" are excellent, fierce, militaristic industrial metal tracks. "Cannibal Song", "Faith Collapsing" and "Dream Song" are great examples of Ministry doing awesome atmospheric non-metal industrial stuff. "So What" is one of Ministry's crowning moments of awesome, so of course Al would try to credit himself with doing Connelly's excellent vocals on the song. The only one on here that I don't like to some extent is "Test". Fucking shitty rap-metal song with pitifully predictable lyrics. Fred Durst probably found a divine light of inspiration within the song, which provides me with another reason to want to knee Jourgensen in the groin.

The album provides probably the most abrupt shift in Ministry's style; all their albums prior to this had some kind of progression in sound, but this one is probably the biggest jump. While With Sympathy was poppy new wave, Twitch was new wavey electro-industrial, and the Land of Rape and Honey was electro-industrial with elements of metal here and there, this one is almost entirely metal, with a few post-punk and industrial (not electro-industrial) touches here and there. The synths are hugely downplayed, live drums feature on every track, the vocal style has entirely shifted to metal screams (except for "Cannibal Song" and "Test", of course.) This one sets the stage for the style Ministry would carry for the rest of its career, more or less. Not nearly as strong as its two predecessors and not quite as good as its follow-up, but still a good album... Just not the masterpiece it is made out to be.

RATING: 3.5/5

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