The Perfect Pair
Why the fuck haven't more people written about or listened to this? Damned crime, it is...
If you listened to anything Ministry released between 1988 and 2003 (which is considered their best period by most people who like heavy/dark music and aren't meatheads who think an overabundance of same-sounding wanky, repetitive speed-solos and redundant, childishly-written lyrics about the president are the only way for music to be good*) then you are probably familiar, at least in passing, with the name Paul Barker. He was credited as the only other 'official' member of Ministry-the-studio-band during that period, alongside frontman Al Jourgensen. He played bass, had a hand in writing most or all of the music, did a bunch of the electronics-work, and did lead vocals on a couple songs. He was also involved to an equally heavy extent in most of the side projects during that period doing the same type of stuff... Pailhead, Revolting Cocks, PTP, 1000 Homo DJs, and Lard. Also lent himself to stuff you'd expect of that era like Pigface, and had a pretty cool side project on WaxTrax with some dude from Stabbing Westward, called Lead into Gold.
*JUST KIDDING LOVE YOU ALL MWAH!
A lot of people don't like Ministry from before Barker joined (I do though) and people are also pretty divided on post-Barker stuff, and even some of the later stuff from when Barker was onboard gets a lot of hate (which I don't think it deserves) but most Ministry fans will agree that the best Ministry albums by far were ones Barker had heavy involvement in. Listening to this, it's easy to see why.
Flowering Blight is Barker's tragically little-known solo project. He gives us a nice, heavy sound without really even trying to be 'metal'. It sounds like a combination of the sounds of 'The Land of Rape and Honey', and bits of 'The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste', 'Dark Side of the Spoon' and 'Animositisomina' with an added healthy dose of post-punk gone horribly wrong (and I mean that in the most flattering of contexts) and a lessened focus on heavy metal elements in exchange for more heavily atmospheric stuff. Very apocalyptic sound. The composition is very refreshing as well, because it's more sweeping and large in scope compared with Ministry's much smaller-scale arrangements (not that it didn't work for them most of the time). The production is very thick and noisy and adds an extra layer of nastiness and darkness to everything. The bass sounds badass and everything has this great sinister, almost gothic feel. Wonderful crunchy guitar tones and all... Kind of reminds me of 'The Land of Rape and Honey''s production at times. There's this dusty, 'western' feel to the songwriting/production at times that I really enjoy as well. Paul's vocals are impressive as well - a lot of people seem to hate his voice but I just can't not like it. He sounds like a more refined, restrained Alice Cooper at times here.
As stated earlier, Barker is mostly solo here, but there are a nice group of guests appearing, including Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Devo), Max Brody (Ministry), Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers), and others. Overall there is not a bad track on this album and I find myself listening to it constantly... Makes a very good soundtrack for Fallout. I find it really tragic that very few people have heard it, which I guess stems from the fact that the only place to get it is Barker's website, and it never gets advertised anywhere - music sites would rather pimp the latest cheaply-made covers album Al Jourgensen put out to get a few bucks, I guess. But I would say this is as good as just about anything Ministry ever put out. Do yourself a favor... Go get this album if you have any appreciation whatsoever for Barker-era Ministry and/or any of the side projects. I cannot stress enough how much this deserves to be heard by more people. So go. Give it a listen. Give Barker reason to make more music! We need it!