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Ministry Adios ... Puta Madres

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, July 8, 2009 @ 10:10 AM

Megaforce/Thirteenth Planet (DVD)

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While just about every band that's split up in the last 15 years seems to be reuniting to cash in on the nostalgia gravy train, Al Jourgensen brought his Ministry collective to a triumphant close last year after nearly 30 years of often - though not always - glorious noise. I wouldn't look for him to be bringing the fellas back again for a trip down memory lane.

Jourgensen's busy enough with other musical projects - namely The Revolting Cocks and Lard - soundtrack and production work and his own studio and label, 13th Planet, that he operates at his compound outside of El Paso, Texas. The object of the ire that consumed/inspired Ministry's last three albums - Houses of the Mole, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker - the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Republican cabal, also is gone - though not so easily forgotten. And if Ministry's two-DVD denouement - culled from their 2008 CULaTour - is any indication, it doesn't seem like Jourgensen's really much for nostalgia anyway.

The 15-track concert DVD - entitled En Vivo - features but four songs from Ministry's Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Taste/Psalm 69 heyday - "So What," the George H.W. Bush-bashing "New World Order," "Just One Fix" and "Thieves" - though the front of the stage sports the chain-link fence that the band used to employ back in the day. The remainder of the tracks are from the final three releases, though the show wraps in a twisted bit of sentimentality with a spot-on cover of jazz great Louis Armstrong's signature "What A Wonderful World" that devolves into a hardcore-tinged cacophony. Footage of the balloon drop that was a staple of the U.S. shows is cut into the "World" performance, which was shot at some European festival, to make it a bit more festive. It certainly looks like a pretty good time.

A 13-track live companion CD that was issued in March dispenses with the old nuggets entirely, substituting the newer songs "Wrong," the awesome Cheney-flogging "Dick Song" and the epic closer "Khyber Pass" for them. But if its old stuff you crave, you can always snag one of Ministry's previous live albums - 1990's calamitous In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing up or 1996's Sphinctour.

The Adios DVD is definitely the way to go here. Ministry have always been a very visual band, be it with the fencing, the video accompaniments and lighting effects, or the army of personnel onstage - all of which is, obviously, lost on a mere CD. And while the European festivals where the concert DVD footage was shot don't make for very glamorous settings - what with the hay spread between the crowd barrier and stage at one and the daylight set time of another - Ministry's arsenal is more than enough to overcome.

And despite this being Ministry's final tour, the all-star sextet, including Prong guitarist Tommy Victor and Static-X bassist Tony Campos, certainly offers no hint of melancholia. Indeed the band is brimming with energy and charisma, as Campos stomps all over the place and Victor and Sin Quirin trade riffs while Jourgensen rants and raves behind his trademark animal bone mic stand.

Accompanying En Vivo is the 40-minute documentary DVD Fulchi Requiem loaded with interviews, reminiscences, additional onstage footage and backstage shenanigans that show how Jourgensen - who's drug problems of old have been well-documented - has morphed from party animal to industrial-metal father figure, as he sings along to old country songs and tells stories about having dinner with ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons back in the day and the like. Indeed at one point, he cracks, "Getting old is cool - sometimes."

Jourgensen's also pretty blunt in his reason for bringing Ministry to an end: "I had a five-year master plan to get out so I wouldn't make an ass out of myself like all these other bands who just keep touring," he says, adding "I'm over touring." Hard to argue with that.

If nothing else, Adios ... Puta Madres shows that Ministry did indeed go out on a high note. And like Jourgensen observes, not many bands can say that.

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