With Sympathy- Ministry

MinistryWithSympathyRelease Year: 1983

Rating: 7/10

Ministry is known for their extreme, hard edge, and somewhat scary sound. But most of their fans know that the band didn’t start out this way. In fact, their debut showed them heading in a new wave direction. To this day Al Jourgensen swears that the record company made him record the album that way. And after listening to it, it’s easy to understand why he wants to put the blame on someone else. It would be different if the record was good on its own, but it’s down right cheesy with most of the songs sounding like they come from other 80s bands. No wonder Jourgensen is embarrassed with the record.

Actually, the record starts off pretty decent. The first couple of songs aren’t great and they certainly aren’t the best Ministry songs out there, but you would find yourself dancing to them at least. “Effigy (I’m Not An)” is the prefect example of the sound you’re going to find on this records: straight up 80’s synth and I’m talking super 80’s. The kind of synth where when it starts you know what era it’s from. Otherwise, it’s a pretty unremarkable song. “Revenge” is a bit better, but the music here sounds like it comes from a demented music box and is better suited for Duran Duran or even Soft Cell. Otherwise, the song is just okay. Also, it’s at this point that you notice Jourgensen is singing with a British accent. For those who don’t know he was born in Cuba; not British at all. This fact makes the album even funnier.

One of the weirdest and unexpected songs here is “ I Wanted to Tell Her.” This track finds the band mixing in heavy funk and disco sounds for this dance focused song. It sounds like it belongs in the 70’s. To be fair, it’s also probably the best song from the album. Even though it is pretty cheesy, it’s fun. It gets you dancing and gets you singing in some places. But it’s still corny as hell and probably something the band is embarrassed by. I mean, it even has the robotic spoken word bridge that songs from this era were known for. But the corniest song here is “Work For Love.”

When I first heard the generic synth beat, I laughed. It sounds like something Madonna would use in her early material, but it’s the lyrics that makes this song so laughable. They’re so terrible. Jourgensen spends almost five minutes comparing love to filling out a job application. No joke. This is how the first verse goes: “and now you’re taking applications for your love/you wanted certain specifications/I circled the one that said all the above.” This is one of those so bad, it’s good things. There’s no doubt that the song is terrible, but it’s so weird you can’t help but like it just a little bit.

The rest of the songs here are nothing but filler. “Here We Go” has music that sounds like it was ripped from Oingo Boingo, “What He Say” has blaring horns that are more suited for the Culture Club, and “Should’ve Known Better” has a pseudo tropical beat in otherwise bland song. Again, none of the songs are down right horrible, but there’s nothing about them that stand out. They’re not memorable and they may not even be something that you would listen to again. It could be due to the music. It’s nothing but synth and even that sounds like it was ripped off from popular bands of the day.

One thing I found both interesting and odd about the album is how it deals mostly with relationships, bad ones. With Ministry’s well known songs, they’re either about how much society sucks or you’re not even sure because Jourgensen is screaming the entire time. The fact that these songs deal with cheating girlfriends, trying to impress a woman, and getting into a fight with your lover doesn’t make these songs bad. It’s just interesting to hear these type of lyrics because it’s something the band wouldn’t return to.

Overall, the album gets 7/10. If you’re looking for a good Ministry record, then this isn’t for you. But if you want one of those cheesy 80’s records you put on just to have fun, then you should listen to this. Some of the songs are decent, but most of them are pretty bad and cheesy. Also, this record has every stereotypical element from the 80’s. Everything from the synth music to the awful album cover with the pale hand and smashed flowers is the perfect example of the era. You can’t blame the band for changing their sound later on to something they were more interested in, but maybe this album would be more forgivable if it were at least better than what we got.



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