Ministry – Cover Up

Ministry - Cover UpMinistryCover Up (13th Planet)

When Ministry released The Land Of Rape And Honey it’s hard to explain how jaw-droppingly shocking and abrupt the band’s turnaround seemed. For those of you who weren’t around, when Ministry released that album, it was the equivalent of a new wave band like Human League suddenly turning into the heaviest band you ever heard.

The band expanded on this aggression until it reached the apex, Psalm 69, before head minister Al Jourgensen put the needles ahead of any attempts on topping that landmark effort.

There’s some evidence of Jorgensen’s sobriety as he completed the Bush trilogy (Houses Of The Mole’, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker) which don’t come close to Psalm 69‘s heights, but at least Al was pointed in the right direction.

The Last Sucker was billed as Ministry’s final album, and the shock of the band’s departure would probably have hit a little harder after a few years of silence. But here we are, less than a year after that “final” release, with the obligatory posthumous covers album, Cover Up.

This idea initially appealed to me, with thoughts of what damage Jorgensen and company could do with raping other’s material over some hot coals of industrial metal.

Note to any band considering an album based entirely of cover songs: chose the material wisely.

Ministry, for reasons I cannot understand, fills Cover Up with material that you and I hear every fucking day on classic rock stations (“What A Wonderful World” being the obvious exception), turning a potentially good idea into an utterly forgettable epitaph.

Additionally, the inclusion of such well-worn selection means that the band has to completely destroy and rebuild any notion of the songs until they’re presented again in an almost unrecognizable form. Jourgensen merely adds his own familiar treatments, leaving the existing structures in tact, which makes also every song on Cover Up eligible for inclusion on some b-grade action movie soundtrack during a car chase scene.

There’s also a certain degree of cashing in going on too, as “Roadhouse Blues” is lifted from last year’s The Last Sucker, “Lay Lady Lay” is from Filth Pig (1996), and “Supernaut” is from Side Trax (2004). In other words: this isn’t entirely a “new” album of “new” material. If Jourgensen was using this vehicle as a way to collect all of Ministry’s cover versions, he missed a bitchin’ version of Magazine‘s “The Light Pours Out Of Me” from Animositisomina (2003) and a great workout of Skinny Puppy‘s “Smothered Hope” from the b-side of 1989’s “Burning Inside” single. Oversights like this are not acceptable when shelling product to completists.

Finally, there’s the sad fact that when Jourgensen began his quest to retrieve Ministry’s signature sound, he succeeded to the point where everything on Cover Up (and the last few albums, for that matter) sound like they’ve been uncovered from a hermetically sealed vault from 1993. There’s no evidence of additional aggression and every scream, drumbeat, and machine gun riff sounds like it comes courtesy of a CPU rather than from actual human discontent.

The cover up, as it seems, is that lost Ministry album that serves as both an appropriate epitaph and a worthy addition to a legacy that desperately needs a reminder as to how frighteningly awesome this band was at one time.

eMusic: Ministry

6 thoughts on “Ministry – Cover Up”

  1. Your analogy is right, although I thought the turning point was earlier, when they followed “With Sympathy” with “Twitch”. Somehow from there I found myself listening to the Revolting Cocks and then Foetus, and never really could take Ministry too seriously again.

  2. Not to be all know-it-all, but “Supernaut” originally appeared on a Black Sabbath tribute album, which I think is since out of print, from back in 1994, under the band name 1000 Homo DJ’s.Also released as a single. One of Jourgensen’s bazillion Wax Trax side-projects. Most of which were fucking terrible.

    With Sympathy is a criminally underrated album. “Revenge” is as good a song as anything Depeche Mode ever put out.

  3. For me, the first time I’d heard “Stigmata” as an advanced single the college station receive, I could not believe it was the same band that did With Sympathy or Twitch. Twitch showed a progression and hinted at what they would become, but I had no idea that they would be able to produce the amount of fear that they accomplished with Rape. Seriously: I remember hearing stories about how the the tour for Mind (later documented on the band’s best album, IMO, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up was just a chaotic display of anarchy and lawlessness. Those stories did put me a little more “on point” when I did eventually see them, but it was relatively tame.

    And Steve-O is correct as “Supernaut” was originally labeled as a 1000 Homo DJ’s track. It was later repackaged as a Ministry cut on Side Trax, which also took some other side projects and attributed them as Ministry.

    I’ll admit to liking some of those Jourgensen side projects, particularly Pailhead, Lard, and RevCo. For a time, I found his endless debauchery a little endearing.

  4. I saw Ministry at the Aragon Brawlroom on the Filth Pig tour. For as intense as the music was, the vibe in the crowd was even moreso unhinged. I lost a watch that my girlfriend gave me in that crowd from involuntary moshing. The vibe was palpably menacing, very dark.

  5. The only time I ever saw Ministry was at the second Lollapalooza back in 1992. I thought their stage presence was badass with the all the goat skulls and shit on the mic stands. Spoooooooky!

    But then the kids on the lawn started ripping out chunks of sod and throwing it all over. Jourgensen was whining like a little girl about how they’d stop playing if they got hit by any more sod.

    I remember thinking, jeez, not as evil as you look, are you, homie? Can’t even handle a couple hunks of bowling ball sized dirt in the face. Wuss.

  6. Jake, that is the same tour that I saw them in-Harriet Island in the Twin Cities. It was a far cry from what I had heard. That same gig was also the moment I started to hate Pearl Jam. The sight of all of these twenty-somethings dressed in their obligatory alternative fashions, singing in unison to “Alive.” It was enough to make me sell back Ten and turn against them completely.

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