Al Jourgensen lives in Texas. Al Jourgensen kicked drugs. Al Jourgensen lost his longtime bassist. Al Jourgensen can’t stand the Bush administration. From pouty Euro-synth ballads, to Twitching proto-industrial clunks, to apocalyptic cowboy drug bombast, Jourgensen has been the only constant in the ever-evolving project that is Ministry. So, it’s easy to connect the goddamn dots between Jourgensen’s personal situation and the tracks on Ministry’s Houses of the Mole. More on that later. First, here’s the subjective sum up: With Mole, Jourgensen has regained focus, and fury, and has aimed this spastic collection of industrial mayhem and guitar onslaught at the Bush administration.
1. Texas is the Reason
Recorded at El Paso’s Sonic Ranch, Mole regains the industrial-metal momentum where 1992’s classic Psalm 69 left off (Filth Pig and Dark Side of the Spoon were distracted at best, and last year’s Animositisomina only hinted at a revitalized Ministry). Jourgensen revisits Psalm‘s themes — primarily, the ousting of the Bushes. Where Psalm protested the George Sr., Mole remonstrates the George Jr. And for Jourgensen, this is not the time for subtleties: Every song contains a W in its title and acid in its guts.
2. Parting with Barker
Jourgensen explains on ministrymusic.org that without Barker, who played the role of programmer, co-writer and bassist since 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey, he was able to get back to the basics and put out a punk-rock record. And though Mole doesn’t assume the punk phrasing of Crass, Dead Kennedys, or the Clash, it’s just as politically pointed, with Jourgensen injecting his own industrial flare: mixing aggressive guitars, buzz-saw vocals and a pastiche of samples.
3. Thieves, Liars
As with the Bush Sr. “New World Order” sample on Psalm‘s “N.W.O.,” Jourgensen once again successfully de-contextualizes media, movie and operatic sound clips on Mole, which opens strongly with “No W.” Its immense and classically spooky chorus, lifted from Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” erupts into a galloping drum beat and chug-a-lug guitars. Jourgensen snarls: “Ask me why you are feeling screwed and I’ll give you the answer. There’s a Colin, Dick and Bush justa hammerin’ away.” G.W. excerpts enter and mingle with the apocalyptic metal and “Carmina” chorus: “We’re fighting evil … the F.B.I., the C.I.A. We’re on the hunt … one person at a time.”
The thrashing guitars and jack-hammer drums continue in “Waiting,” which boasts the amazing refrain: “Waiting for Christ in the U.S.A.” “Wrong” builds from a bass run into a dissident’s fist-pumping anthem: “You’re wrong, every time.” And like a rebroadcast of its Psalm 69 counterpart “TVII,” “WTV” explodes with its programming stutters, smoldering guitar run, and Jourgensen’s tormented, staccato vocals: “I got nothing else to do/ sit around and watch the tube/ gather information/ that is useless aggravation/ I refuse, I refuse.” Aside from a hidden track, No. 23 (another prod at the pres? likely, considering G.W.’s employment of Psalm 23 in his national post-9-11 address.), Mole loses its legs a bit after “WTV” and adopts a slower, but tastefully dystopian, industrial tone. And though Ministry isn’t breaking new ground on Mole, the requisite Ministry trademarks of late — the looping, wall-of-sound guitars, bitter vocals and relentless drums — are firmly intact, and the band sounds recharged.
4. Get Up, Get On Your Feet
Though Mole projects a distinctly cynical sheen, Jourgensen isn’t apathetic. Apparently experiencing an influx of energy since kicking dope, he’s aligned himself with Punkvoter.com, contributed a track on the Rock Against Bush compilation, and publicly denounced Urban Outfitters for selling T-shirts with the slogan “Voting Is for Old People.” Jourgensen has also resurrected one of his most notorious side-projects, the Revolting Cocks, (look forward to the Cocks’s Purple Head sometime soon), and is launching a tour. Accompanied by disco-trash-fleshpot-devils My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Ministry will do a bit of campaigning of their own, hitting the North American streets this election year with the Evil Doer Tour and providing a suitable soundtrack for the unrest of us in the U.S.A.