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Music: Ministry
Ministry, back in 1992

So the only one thing that I could do was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long...
Ministry, "Jesus Built My Hotrod"

Ministry was the Trope Maker for the genre of Industrial Metal back in The Eighties and helped popularise it along fellow Trope Codifiers Nine Inch Nails. Both bands also have something else in common, having just one mastermind and constant member. In Ministry's case, this is a man named Al Jourgensen.

The band's had a high turnover rate of members. These have included:
  • Al Jourgensen - vocals, guitar, keyboards, multiple instruments
  • John Davis - keyboards (1981-1982)
  • Stephen George - drums (1981-1985)
  • Robert Roberts - keyboards (1981-1983)
  • Marty Sorenson - bass (1981-1982)
  • Shay Jones - vocals (1982-1983)
  • Brad Hallen - bass (1983-1985)
  • Paul Barker - bass, keyboards, programming, vocals (1986-2003) - classic lineup
  • Bill Rieflin - drums, keyboards, programming, guitar (1986-1995) - classic lineup
  • Chris Connelly - vocals, keyboards, guitar (1987-1993) - classic lineup
  • Mike Scaccia - guitars, bass (1989-1995, 2003-2006, 2012) - classic lineup (deceased)
  • Louis Svitek - guitar (1992-1999) - classic lineup
  • Michael Balch - keyboards, programming (1991-1992)
  • Zlatko Hukic - electronics, guitar (1995-1999)note 
  • Rey Washam - drums, percussion, programming (1995-1999, 2003)
  • Max Brody - drums, percussion, programming, saxophone (1999-2004)
  • Mark Baker - drums (2004-2005)
  • John Monte - bass (January 2004-September 2004)
  • Paul Raven - bass, keyboards, guitar, drums (2005-2007) (deceased)
  • Tommy Victor - guitars, bass (2005-2008)
  • John Bechdel - keyboards (2006-2008)
  • Sin Quirin - guitars, bass (2007-2008)

The band was formed in Chicago in 1981. Their initial material was largely New Wave Synth Pop, as shown on their first album With Sympathy. Jourgenson considers the album as Old Shame and Canon Discontinuity, referring to Sympathy as "an abortion of an album" and blaming Executive Meddling for its existence. Fans largely follow the Word of God on this one, although it is notable that the follow up and somewhat looked down on album Twitch was a harsher-sounding industrial album with no traces of the "Synth Pop" sound that was so prevalent on the previous album.

Ministry as we know it began when Jourgensen decided to add aggressive Heavy Metal riffing and recruited who would become his main collaborators for a while, Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin. The resulting album, The Land of Rape and Honey, proved to be a landmark recording, combining harsh, electronics-heavy production with loud metal guitars and lots of sampling from old movies. Its follow-up, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, refined this formula by hardening the sound even further and introducing a political slant. This period also saw the band adopt its now-famous leather-clad cowboy/biker appearance.

Also in The Eighties, Jourgensen and Barker formed a flurry of side projects. These included the more light-hearted, absurdist Revolting Cocks (which essentially has the same lineup as Ministry, plus Luc Van Acker and Richard 23 at first), Lard (a collaboration with Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra), Acid Horse (with Cabaret Voltaire), 1000 Homo DJs (where Trent Reznor contributed vocals to a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut"), PTP (with Chris Connelly), Pigface (an Industrial Metal Supergroup) and Pailhead (with Minor Threat guitarist Ian MacKaye).

Ministry finally had its main breakthrough with Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs. Besides providing the best example of their balls-out Hot-Blooded Industrial Metal sound and the triple guitar attack of Jourgensen, Mike Scaccia and Louis Svitek, it showed the band's sense of humour through the Crazy Awesome hit single "Jesus Built My Hotrod" (with nonsense vocals by Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers) and provided arguably one of the first Stupid Statement Dance Mixes with "N.W.O." Psalm 69 gained them a mainstream audience and would prove to be their most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album.

After Psalm 69, the band almost got derailed by the members' severe drug addictions, culminating in a 1995 raid of their Texas headquarters and Jourgensen's arrest for possession. He received a five-year probation sentence and subsequently struggled to overcome his addiction. Around the same time, Rieflin and Scaccia left the band. Their next two albums, Filth Pig and Dark Side of the Spoon, stripped away the industrial elements from their sound (synthesizers, samplers, electronics) in favour of straightforward guitar-bass-drums noise. The reception from both fans and critics was poor (although both albums have since gained supporters), and the band's lineup continued to be unstable. A guitarist from this era, Zlatko Hukic, had a solo career as a Rap Metal artist and a stint in the group Dark Lotus, under the name Marz.

Jourgensen finally kicked his habit after almost losing an arm to a venomous spiderbite in 2001, and with Barker and new drummer/saxophonist Max Brody began working on 2003's Animositisomina. After touring for the album, Paul Barker left and with guitarist Mike Scaccia back, Jourgensen began work on a follow up and formed a new lineup. Reclaiming his old Industrial Metal sound (but adding Thrash Metal influences) and setting his sights on George W. Bush's presidency, Ministry released a trilogy of albums about how much Bush's presidency sucked: Houses of the Molé, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker.

Jourgensen finally retired Ministry in 2008 after recording the covers album Cover Up. He spent the next few years focusing on running his record label 13th Planet Records and concentrating on his side projects Revolting Cocks and Lard. However, as of late 2011 the band is active again, with old standbys Scaccia (until his death on 23 December 2012), Bechdel and Quirin, plus new guys Aaron Rossi and Casey Orr, and a new album, Relapse, was released in 2012.

Discography

  • With Sympathy (1983)
  • Twitch (1986)
  • The Land of Rape and Honey (1988)
  • The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989)
  • Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992)
  • Filth Pig (1996)
  • Dark Side of the Spoon (1999)
  • Animositisomina (2003)
  • Houses of the Molé (2004)
  • Rio Grande Blood (2006)
  • The Last Sucker (2007)
  • Cover Up (2008)
  • Relapse (2012)
  • From Beer to Eternity (2013) (final album)


This band provides examples of the following:

  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • Revolting Cocks got their name from an incident where Jourgensen, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker got drunk off their arses and started a bar brawl. The owner threw them out and shouted "I'm calling the police! You guys are a bunch of revolting cocks!".
    • When Jourgensen played the demos for what became the first 1,000 Homo DJ's release, Wax Trax! label owner Jim Nash said "No one's gonna buy this. It'll take one thousand homo DJs to play this for one person to buy it."
    • The title of Filth Pig was taken from a speech by a British MP attacking Jourgensen.
  • Author Existence Failure: Mike Scaccia, who was responsible for a good deal of Ministry's current sound.
  • Binge Montage: The music video of "Just One Fix."
  • Cool Shades: Al Jourgensen.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: "N.W.O." (though the lyrics are... strange), "Lieslieslies" (bukkakeing the listener with stupid 9/11 theories and uses clips from Loose Change, one of the foremost 9/11 conspiracy theory films) and "99%" (focuses on the Occupy movement).
  • The Cover Changes The Meaning: The Revolting Cocks' covers of "Let's Get Physical" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
    • Ministry's supremely sarcastic cover of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World".
  • Contemptible Cover: The Land of Rape and Honey, once you realize what it is... An out-of-focus head shot of a dead man, possibly a concentration camp victim.
    • Dark Side of the Spoon as well.
  • Cover Version: The entire Cover Up album.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "Flashback"
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Same as Trent Reznor, Al Jourgensen in Real Life's an okay dude. Well, to be fair, Ministry isn't as angsty as Nine Inch Nails...
  • Darker and Edgier: Twitch, which exchanged the campy electronic pop of With Sympathy for a harder Industrial sound.
  • Demonization: "The Dick Song" blasts Dick Cheney, calling him "son of Satan" and stating "You know he's evil, he's not of this race!". These are actually two of the nicer things Al says about Cheney.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: With Sympathy, as previously stated, sounds very little like the rest of the catolouge, while Twitch is arguably heavier than what comes after it. See Genre Shift below.
  • Epic Rocking: "Cannibal Song", "So What", "Scare Crow", "End of Days, Part Two" to name a few.
  • Fan Disservice: The cover of Dark Side of the Spoon.
  • Fan Nickname: "Uncle Al" for Al Jourgensen.
  • Genre Shift:
    • From Synth Pop to Industrial for Twitch, and straightforward industrial to Industrial Metal for The Land of Rape and Honey.
    • "Test" in The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste is a strangely upbeat rap-rock-metal song.
  • Grand Finale: "End of Days, Part Two" for The Last Sucker and Ministry, at least until Relapse.
    • However, From Beer to Eternity is very much this.
  • Harsh Vocals: All over the place.
  • Iconic Item: Al Jourgensen always wears sunglasses and a bandanna or a hat. Always.
  • Iconic Outfit: The band's leather cowboy/biker appearance, Al's sunglasses and bandanna.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Aside from opening track "No W", all of the song titles on Houses of the Molé start with W - even the Hidden Track is officially called "Walrus". The constant use of "-tour" puns for Ministry and Revolting Cocks tours also counts.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Jourgensen is addicted to distorting and processing his voice at the expense of understandable lyrics.
  • Industrial Metal: Trope Makers.
  • Jerk Ass: Al's built up quite a reputation for this over the years.
  • Lead Bassist: Paul Barker, from 1987 to 2003.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Test" - at least, for Ministry. The lyrics are standard "be who you want to be" fare, free of violence, and it's a rap-rock fusion.
    • Lyrical Dissonance: It sounds like somewhat standard Ministry fare, but the lyrics are lighter.
  • Macho Camp: Sometimes, but without the muscles.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 2-3 for their synthpop, hard 8-solid 9 for their industrial metal.
  • New Sound Album: The Land of Rape and Honey, Filth Pig, Houses of the Molé.
  • Protest Song: Most of Ministry's output, especially in The Noughties, was basically political ranting set to pounding Industrial Metal.
  • Punny Name:
    • Albums: Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (see below), Dark Side of the Spoon, Houses of the Molé and Rio Grande Blood.
    • Tours (for both Ministry and Revolting Cocks) since 1996: SphincTour, CliTour, FornicaTour MasterBaTour, C-U-LaTour (Ministry's last tour before their 2008 retirement), LubricaTour (the follow-up Revolting Cocks tour).
  • Rearrange the Song: Nearly every song they've covered.
    • In 2010, they remade their old Synth Pop single "Everyday Is Halloween" in a more Industrial Metal style (although the result is still more melodic than much of their other recent material).
  • Sampling: Mostly from movies and other media instead of music, though the original version of "No W" sampled "O Fortuna".
    • Several songs from Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker cut and pasted together samples of speeches by George W. Bush, resulting in ridiculous Strawman Political statements that make Bush sound evil. Blood's title track includes "I've adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics/And I'm a dangerous, dangerous man/With dangerous, dangerous weapons" and "I'm a weapon of mass destruction/And I'm a brutal dictator/And I'm evil"; "Death and Destruction" has "I am the decider, and I decide what's best, and what's best is death and destruction, death and destruction".
    • The Epic Rocking conclusion to The Last Sucker, "End of Days, Part Two", samples Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address, including the famous part warning about the "military-industrial complex".
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Ex-bassist Paul Barker's glasses occasionally.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Last Sucker.
  • Shout-Out: The title of Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, is taken from chapter 69 of Aleister Crowley's The Book of Lies, and is basically an Incredibly Lame Pun about 69ing. The reference goes further, as the album covers don't have any text and the title written on the spine and the liner notes is ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, which is the heading of chapter 69 of The Book of Lies. (ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ is basically a combination of the Greek word "kefali", which means "head" - think of the English meaning - and "ΞΘ", which is "69" in Greek numerals.)
    • Rather improbably, The Land of Rape and Honey is actually the official motto of the city of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, referring to the town's significant production of rapeseed and honey. Al chose the title after seeing the motto on a souvenir mug and being amused at what how completely wrong it sounded.
  • Self-Deprecation: The middle of Linger Fickin Good".
  • Sequel Song: "TV Song", a B-Side to "Jesus Built My Hotrod", was followed by "TV II", "TV III", "WTV" and "Side Fx Include Mikey's Middle Finger (TV 4)" note . It's something of a Thematic Series - The songs all include Spoken Word In Music samples from television, a lot of Stop and Go, and usually also lyrics about television spreading paranoia and consumerism delivered at Motormouth speed.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Revolting Cocks.
    • Check the "Fix: The Ministry Movie" trailer on YouTube. That is all.
  • Shrouded in Mystery: The video for the unreleased song "Same Old Madness", an extremely rare song from 1982, predating the release of With Sympathy by one whole year. If it wasn't because the video appeared on YouTube on 2006, the song and its video would've been largely forgotten by now. As a side note, it's the only video with the original line-up.
  • Supergroup: Pigface.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: They once performed a surprisingly faithful acoustic cover of "Friend Of The Devil" by The Grateful Dead, as heard on the benefit album The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1 - it's one of the few times Al Jourgensen can be heard singing gently outside of the early synth pop material.
  • Take That:
  • Thrash Metal: From Houses of The Molé onwards.
  • To Absent Friends: Dark Side of the Spoon was dedicated to the memory of former touring guitarist William Tucker, who committed suicide in 1999.
  • Video Full Of Film Clips: The video for "What About Us?" is basically an extended version of their cameo in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, wherein they appeared playing the song. Oddly, "What About Us?" wasn't even on the A.I. soundtrack itself, so the video was really promoting the Greatest Hits Album Greatest Fits.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Ex-vocalist and keyboardist Chris Connelly was rail-thin and almost effeminate in appearance with a baritone voice.
  • Vocal Evolution: Al initially used a Fake Brit accent; when The Land of Rape and Honey was recorded, he introduced his trademark and influential distorted screaming vocals.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Found in the "Just One Fix" video.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Al's not exactly on the best of terms right now with the other members of the classic lineup, bar Mike Scaccia. It's gotten to the point where he's now denying that they ever were friends despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: To the point where it would be easier to list the lyrics of songs that don't fall into this trope.


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