Album Review: Ministry – Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums


Album Review: Ministry - Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums
Reviewed by Dan Barners

It’s good to see Ministry is keeping busy, with the recent release of the excellent new album, Moral Hygiene, and now this four-disc retrospective of their early millennial releases from their time with the Mayan imprint of Sanctuary Records.

The four discs cover two studio records, 2003’s Animositisomnia and the following year’s House of the Molé; there’s the 2002 live record, Sphinctour and the fourth CD, Rantology, is a collection of remixes and live tracks.

Animositisomnia was Ministry’s eighth album and, listening back to it again I always felt it was one of the band’s also-ran records. There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s Ministry after all – but I did and still do feel the production could be sharper. The cymbal crashes on Piss lack the intensity they deserve. That said, the industrial elements are stomping on Broken and Impossible, while the cover version of Magazine’s The Light Pours Out of Me is an industrial take on the post-punk of the original.

The Animositisomnia tracks rarely featured in the setlist after the end of the tour suggests that although it’s standard Ministry fayre, it doesn’t have the chops when compared to other of the band’s music.

A year later and the band put out the far superior House of the Molé, with every track being initialled with a W, as a tribute to Al Jourgensen’s ongoing spat with the then president, George W Bush. Opening with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana before morphing into the ballsy thrashing sound of No W, with juicy guitars and excoriating vocals, this was Uncle Al at his most politically caustic. Waiting, Worthless and Wrong are all tailor-made to rip your face directly from the front of your head, while World looks back to the industrial with a massive beat.

Unlike Animositisomnia, House of the Molé has been an album on regular rotation and coming back to it with a more critical ear I see no reason that the situation would change.

Album Review: Ministry - Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums

Disc 1 of this collection and the earliest material on offer is the live collection, Sphinctour from 2002, a suite of eleven tracks recorded across the globe, from places as far a field as Los Angeles and Seattle to Stuttgart and Brussels during Ministry’s 1996 tour in support of the Filth Pig album.

Recorded directly to DAT from the mixing desk and being as raw as you can get, the collection is a furious testament to the live power of the band, marred only by the fact that the recordings are from different shows and not one continuous performance. That said, the parity of Ministry’s shows as they circle the globe is commendable and the brute force of the music is a thing of beauty.

The most recent collection is disc four, Rantology from 2005 and feature remixed versions of tracks, not just from this era of the band, but includes new interpretations of the likes of N.W.O., Bad Blood and Jesus Built My Hotrod, featuring Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers.

From the collection there’s updated mixes of No W., Wrong and Warp City which, like most other Ministry remix collections present the same ideas in a slightly different way. The then unrelease The Great Satan is of its time but is still a rollickingly good dollop of Ministry doing what Ministry do best.

The final three tracks on Rantology are duplicates of the final three on the Sphinctour disc, live versions of Psalm 69, Thieves and The Fall from Paris, Seattle and London respectively.

It’s always great to have any excuse to pop on a Ministry album and get down with the craziness. As evidenced by Moral Hygiene, Mr Jourgensen does not intend to go gentle into the good night; in fact, listening to these twenty-odd year-old recordings, I might suggest the man is making a career of growing old disgracefully.

And with the headline set at Damnation 2022 to look forward to, long may that continue.

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