When Ministry started in 1981, their music was more along the lines of new wave, which was popular at the time. But by the late 80’s the band changed their sound completely to something shocking, loud, and at times creepy. This is the Ministry you’ll find on their third album. I remember when I first heard it and it completely blew my mind. It was like nothing else I was listening to at the time. It was something that fascinated me, yet creeped me out at the same time. It’s completely different from what you’ll find on their debut and I think it’s one of their best albums.
One thing about this album is it has some kick ass music. The only way to describe it is heavy and aggressive. The music here is the type that really hits you when you’re listening, like it’s trying to punch you in the face with its aggression. What I really love about it is the percussion. It’s just hard hitting and can even sound like bullets firing off at times. You can really hear the drum work on the opening track “Stigmata.” It begins with a slight hissing before the drums come pounding in, followed by a moaning guitar riff that sounds like it’s being stretched to the point of breaking. It’s an awesome, energetic way to open this dark and chaotic album.
The next song “The Missing” This is another song with big booming drums and a racing guitar riff that drives its way through the track. Here it sounds like everything is being hit as hard as it can just to impact the listener. Everything here from the music to the lyrics is so aggressive that it’s perfect for a mosh pit. “Deity” is another track that seems made for the pit. The thing that makes this song so great is the guitar. It comes in midway through the song and because it’s high pitched and really fast, it sounds stark compared to the dark, trudging music going on. There’s one part in particular that makes the song stand out: everything stops for about three seconds before the guitar comes in and plays a few notes. Then the music resumes. The way it’s incorporated with the other music is really awesome.
Just about all of the songs follow the same heavy and abrasive format, but they don’t get tiring. The title track “The Land of Rape and Honey” is an in your face track with an electronic influence. The rioting going on in the background adds a disturbing hint to the song. “You Know What You Are” is the perfect representation of the band. It has every element that makes them who they are: it’s loud, harsh, and creepy with a dash of metal and industrial music thrown into the mix. The vocals here are so damn creepy. There some sort of effect on them that makes Al Jorgenson sound like some evil demon coming to eat your soul. It can be unnerving, but really adds a sense of evil to the track.
Another great song is “Flashback.” Again, the abrasive music makes a comeback, but it has weird sounds that remind me of barking to go along with it. This track has the most violent lyrics out of all the songs here. With lines like “I’m gonna rip her flesh/I’m gonna piss in her face/I’m gonna rip her open/and then hit her with mace” the band is living out everyone’s fantasy of beating up someone you can’t stand. I don’t know why he hates this chick so much, but he seems pretty serious about killing her.
What’s interesting about the album is that there are a number of instrumental tracks here. I have a love/hate relationship with songs like this. Usually they go on for too long or don’t have anything interesting enough to keep my attention. That’s not the case with these songs. The tracks “Destruction,” “Hizbollah,” and “Golden Dawn” have so much chaos in them that you can’t catch every sound and sample in just one listen. Also, they’re aggressive, abrasive, and crazy enough to really catch your attention. Though there is a lot going on in these songs, there’s still enough of a groove to get you moving.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. This album is completely different from the band’s first two releases, but it establishes the harsh and violent sound that they are now known for. Rather than sticking with new wave, Ministry goes industrial with this record. The entire album is chaotic and dark with violent music and lyrics. It has some of their best and most terrifying songs to date. Whenever I think of classic Ministry, this is the album that comes to mind. Anyone who is a fan of this debut and expects to find the same here, you’re in for a surprise.