Ministry – Houses of the Mole’

Over the past year or so, Ministry’s main man Al Jourgensen has lost two of his long time partners — Paul Barker, and heroin. Fortunately for us, Ministry still sounds like Ministry; in fact, it’s been a long time since the band has sounded this focused. Sorry Paul.

2004’s Houses Of The Mole’ finds Ministry in fine form. With Barker out of the picture, Ministry’s songs have swung back towards being more guitar-based, a sound fans have been clamoring for since 1992’s Psalm 69. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard Ministry songs this lean and mean.

Unlike recent Ministry albums, everything here is pretty up-tempo and consists of guitar riffs over real (or at least realistic sounding, for the most part) drum tracks. Those who tire of Jourgensen’s experimental tangents will be glad to learn that Houses is a fairly straight forward album. That’s not to say that the music’s simple, but at least everything here can be classified as songs (save for one of the “hidden” tracks).

George W. Bush appears to have more fans in Iraq than he has in the music industry. Track one (“No W”) sets the tone for Ministry’s attack against Bush’s administration. In true fashion, the songs (which all start with the letter W) are filled with samples from Bush’s speeches. “No W” seems to me at least to be a successor to “N.W.O.” from Psalm 69 (which, ironically, was about Bush’s daddy).

On Houses Of The Mole’, Ministry appears more metal than ever before. The verse riff on “No W” alone rivals anything Metallica’s done in at least a decade, maybe two. “Waiting” is reminiscent of Psalm 69’s “Jesus Built my Hotrod”, but more streamlined. WTV is overloaded with television samples (Nailbomb did it better on “24 Hours of Bullshit”). “Warp City” reaches break neck speeds and harkens back to the band’s older days.

Paul Barker or not, Ministry’s back. Stripped down and with a new enemy in his sites, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen is more focused than ever.

01. No W
02. Waiting
03. Worthless
04. Wrong
05. Warp City
06. WTV
07. World
08. WKYJ
09. Worm
10. Psalm 23
11. Walrus

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