By now Ministry fans know that the band didn’t begin as the brutal, hard rocking guys they are now. Their first album penned them as a faceless new wave, much to Jourgensen’s dismay. But with their second album, Al had more control and while it’s not their most brutal release it’s still great and shows the direction the band were headed. It’s far from their best, but there are plenty of songs that display the growth of Jourgensen and crew, while keeping a few of the elements found in their debut.
The opening track “Just Like You” starts off with this cool beat that sounds like a military march that eventually transitions into a mid-tempo dance beat. While it’s not as heavy as some of their later releases, the music is still heavier than their prior album. Still, this track shows the beginnings of the band fans would come to know and love. The lyrics make several references to the dark side of politics with one line in particular attacking Ronald Regan: “1980’s was run by a person who’s crazy — like you!” This is similar to what Ministry’s later albums would focus on. What I found interesting about the song is how the vocals sound similar to Thrill Kill Kult’s Groovie Mann. It could be because the two previously formed a band prior to Ministry. Also, Jorgensen is still trying to pull off the faux British accent. It doesn’t work, but it’s not as distracting as it was on the previous album.
“We Believe” has electro synth dance music with a beat that sounds like something from Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine. Reznor has previously stated that Ministry had a huge influence on the band, so I wonder if this is one of the albums that inspired him. Either way the music gets you moving since it has a techno industrial feel to it. The vibe of the song in general is dark and gloomy with the vocals coming off as creepy; what Jourgensen does best. “All Day” is one of the best songs on the album. It’s more synth based dance music with samples that could be from the movie Full Metal Jacket. It has more a funk and dance feel found on their first album, but both the music and the lyrics are so catchy it grows on you quickly. The song itself is about how people waste away most of their lives at a shitty job, while the big boss is living the high life off of them. What’s strange is the hard breathing at the end; it’s so random. Still, it’s one of the best songs from the album.
The second half of the record falls flat. The songs are okay, but they’re kind of dull and don’t stand out like the other tracks. While “Over the Shoulder” has cool music, the vocals are so weird and distracting. I’m not sure what Jourgensen is doing here, but it sounds like he’s putting on faux Barry Gib vocals. The song overall isn’t bad, but the vocals really take away from the track. “The Angel” and “My Possession” are decent enough, but they’re easy to tune out. The previous track has the typical 80’s synth music, while the latter has catchy music, but nothing else notable. If anything, it sounds like these songs are something Jourgensen threw together in a hurry to shut up the label executives.
The closing track “Where You At Now” sounds the most like the Ministry we know today. I love how he shouts “I’ve seen God!” at the beginning. It’s so jarring and wakes up the listener. The brutal, metallic sounds and heavy beats really sound like something they would do on their next release, especially with the extensive use of samples and yelling. The rest of the track consists of two different instrumentals that are more or less sound experiments. It all flows together so well that you don’t even notice the song has moved on to a different section. It’s one of the more interesting songs on the album and one that acts as a doorway to their best music yet.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. While this is far from their greatest release, it’s way better than their debut. It’s still not violent and brutal like their later albums, but it’s closer to the sound they were aiming for. The second half of the record is pretty weak, but it starts off strong with several good tracks that are catchy and groovy. Though Jourgensen has since dismissed the record it’s actually a good example of what Ministry wanted to do later on thanks to the extreme vocals and samples. It’s a pretty good introduction for anyone trying to get in the band and something that every fan should check out at least once.