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After clinging to the Synth Pop/Electronic scene for the first quarter of his music career, Al Jourgenson decided to up the ante with his band Ministry by introducing some new elements to the already exploding Industrial/Electronic genre that was about the crossover to the mainstream within a couple years. Sure you had Canada's cocain-flavored nightmare pet Skinny Puppy, and very futuristic claustrophobic Front Line Assembly, England's creepy LSD-induced Throbbing Gristle and Occult-obsessed Coil, Germany's EBM kraut meistros Front 242, and even the more gloom-ridden New York masters of pain The Swans and local Chicago acts such Big Black.....but Al was going to rise to the very top and scream til he was either blue in the face or just killing time between his well-known drug misadventures. Al and Ministry did so with a little known album called "The Land Of Rape & Honey".
The first thing one notices is the guitars. now Big Black were one of the first bands to combine drum machines and guitars, but Ministry are the ones that introduced the speed. Not to mention a very Punk-like vibe that WILL blow your speakers out. Al Jourgenson's performance as a guitarist is simplistic but very sufficient enough to make the songs come to life and not to mention his voice has also changed from the somewhat whiny New Romantic style of "With Sympathy" and "Twitch" to a more deranged snarl. No, he hasn't started shooting up yet, but man he sounds pissed and ready to take on the world. Also in place of the somewhat soothing ambient textures of "With Sympathy" and "Twitch" are the more grittier, dirtier drum beats and the first presence of film samples. Way more dense and machine-like. A complete makeover you might say. Bassist Paul Barker is carefully mixed in some songs, but in others it's a not as more noticible. Nonetheless it doesn't detract from the quality of songs.
Lots of headbanging and foot-tapping moments here. "Stigmata" starts off with Al Jourgenson screaming from his damaged mind and is an instant hit. This is one of the very few songs that gets played in the Goth clubs where the even more amusing Goths themselves will stop dancing to melodramatic Robert Smith songs and crappy Electronic-Dance music and actually blow some steam out of their systems seeing how they are so miserable(plus it's hilarious to see them actually TRY to mosh) and mopy their lives are. "The Missing" speeds the tempo up a bit just to get you ready for "Diety". This is what I am talking about. Imagine Motorhead with a rapid-fire drum machine and that's what you're going to get. Very simplistic but it's very speedy. The fastest song on "TLOR&H" and the first for Ministry. Excellent job Al. "Golden Dawn" is NOT at all like "Diety" but more of a laid-back trippy instrumental with horror movie samples screaming "the Antichrist!" and chants of what seems to be Aleister Crowley to be conducting a ritual. This is the kind of song you want to sit back, toke-up with some good pot, and stare through the smoky haze at the world with bloodshot eyes and dialated pupils filled with disgust. For an instrumental, this is excellent stuff. Al's guitars has a somewhat Loop-sound to them. Check that band out if you have the chance. The title track is just pure vintage bona'fide 80's industrial. "You Know What You Are" starts off with a somewhat demented laughter and goes right into the pulsating synths, throbbing beats and Al Jourgenson's schizophrenic-like screaming. Obviously he's got a vocoder adding the effects on this cut. Other tracks such as "Hizbollah" and "Flashback" are just as good but doesn't stand-out like the tracks previously mention.
All and all, "The Land of Rape & Honey" is a hit for the Ministry camp. Fortunately their streak would last for another two albums before putting out some shoddy albums, but for now this is the core Ministry sound and it's great stuff. Highly reccomended if you're wanting to explore Industrial music or find one of the very first albums that linked Metal and Industrial together. Drugs, Occult references, loud guitars....how can one go wrong?