Groundbreakers: Ministry – The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste

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In an earlier edition of Groundbreakers, we inducted Fear Factory‘s Demanufacture into our very own hall of fame. As important as that album was to the development of heavy metal, it itself owes much to today’s inductee, Ministry‘s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. Along with other machinist stalwarts KMFDM and Godflesh, Ministry helped spawn the subgenre that would come to be known as industrial metal, one that still exists today in various fashions. Moreover, the legacy of Ministry’s most pivotal release can still be found in the deepest, darkest reaches of extreme metal.

Just like their counterparts in KMFDM, Ministry began their career crafting dance-hall anthems, but there was always a slightly harder edge, a greater disgust for the status quo found in the pulsing electronic beats of the early releases. The band released two passable industrial albums before Ministry frontman and all-around crazy person Al (Alien) Jorgunsen rediscovered his love of the electric guitar and recruited bassist Paul Barker to the fold. The two (plus session musicians) would record The Land of Rape and Honey, a nasty, drug-fueled dive into the seedy underbelly of electronic music, but this time the violent rhythms were given extra bite with the inclusion of rock elements on certain tracks.

However, it was on 1989’s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing that the band finally and fully embraced metal. Combining elements of thrash metal, dance music, and horror movie samples in a hate-and-booze-addled cocktail of misanthropy, Jorgunsen and Barker raged against everything that pissed them off about modern life, but this time, they brought some friends. At some point during the heated writing sessions that spawned the nine vitriolic tracks that would inevitably be pressed to the album, Al realized that Ministry had grown beyond the simple confines of a band and grown into a full-blown performance piece. No fewer than 11 additional musicians would lend their talents to the final product, and a 20, armed, ten-headed, two-drummer-ed monstrosity would eventually wage a bloody tour campaign across the nation.

Legend has it that the recording process was especially chaotic. The rock-and-roll lifestyle was certainly in full swing in the studio, with band members writing and re-recording each others’ parts under a pallid haze of rage and debauchery. Accounts vary as to who did the majority of the writing, but what is clear is that interpersonal conflicts seethed and that battle lines were routinely drawn (and crossed). When asked about that album, members of Ministry waste no time slandering each other and claiming credit for the majority of the album.

So what did all that turbulence produce? A razor sharp album with pummeling groove, martial percussion, and venomous conceit. Throbbing rhythms and sneered vocals repeat and compound themselves in mantra-esque fashion to lead listeners down a winding path of anger and self-destruction. It may not sound extreme in comparison to many metal acts that draw influence from Ministry today, but it was certainly a hellish blitzkrieg against metal trends at the time of its release, one that left charred rubble across the landscape. Riffs that could have been lifted directly from lumber factories tear and cut their way through each track while machine-gun drums fire and recoil like gatling guns cutting down lines of robotic enemy troops. All this carnage unfolds under the direction of Al’s maniacal dictator vocals that drip with a burning phlegm likely caused by the napalm and heroin coursing through his veins. The end product is nine distinct, banging classics with a cinematic scope worthy of the best of James Cameron’s sci-fi films.

The band would go on to release a multitude of albums, break up, and reconvene again, but The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste stands tall as the most influential record in Ministry’s discography. The mechanical fusion of electronics and metal would directly influence bands like Rammstein and Fear Factory, but the industrial rhythms and computerized hatred that Ministry breathed through seared lungs into the metal world can still be found in more extreme bands like Cloak of Altering and The Amenta. For this reason, we are proud to induct The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste into the Groundbreakers Hall of Fame.


Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.

Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the DayTemple of the Morning Star
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
Acid Bath – When the Kite String Pops

(Photo VIA and VIA)

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  • Dagon

    Good read. And his vocals do sound like they’re coming from a mad dictator.

    I never got into Ministry for whatever reason, but I respect their legacy.

  • Hubert

    My dad’s a fan of Ministry. When I showed interest in metal with Tool and Korn he gave me his copy of Psalm 69. Good shit.

  • Tyree

    *Walks into tattoo shop. “Hi there, I’d like a tattoo on my fucking forehead please.”

    https://lifeofcharles.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/img_2501.jpg

    • Guacamole Jim

      What in the actual fuck.

    • The W.

      Heroin is a hell of a drug, dude.

      • Tyree

        That’s no lie. Did’t he hemorrhage or something. He said he had blood coming out of his mouth, nose, asshole, and dickhole. Dude almost bled out to death.

        • The W.

          That wouldn’t surprise me. He definitely drank a lot too. I’m not sure if he’s completely sober now, but I know he used to drink a bottle of wine on stage every night at shows.

          • Tyree

            Peter Steele did that too. He may have even drank 2 or 3.

          • That is a whole lotta wine. Damn

            GL

          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS
          • /dontunderstandthereference

            #typical

            GL

          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

            You’ve never seen a Clockwork Orange??

          • No sir.

            *sees myself out*

            GL

          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

            Instead of seeing yourself out, go see the fucking movie. It’s like, one of the best movies ever made. Kubrick directed/wrote/produced the movie.

          • Tyree

            BOOM!

          • Interesting. I have made a mental note! Thanks

          • it’s a real mindfuck, and quite disturbing to a 16 y/o McNulty

          • Shrimp in a Pizza Box

            I don’t really remember when I first saw it, but I was very young and it was REALLY disturbing. Good movie.

          • HA I remember accidentally seeing Candyman when I was like 7 years old. It scarred me for a LONG time.

            http://www.gstatic.com/tv/thumb/movieposters/14306/p14306_p_v7_aa.jpg

            GL

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            That actually took place in Cabrini Green, Chicago’s worst housing project (it’s gone now, as are most of the projects), and they even filmed it in there. Yes, Cabrini was that fucking bad!

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still disturbs me greatly.

          • i believe it, that movie’s a winner

          • Tyree
          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

            Septultura wrote a concept album about it too.

          • Dagon

            A-Lex

          • The W.

            The book is great.

          • That’s a paddlin’

            The movie’s a blast too.

          • Anneke Anneke Anneke Anneke

            I am back on The Gentle Storm again.

            GL

            http://i235.photobucket.com/albums/ee242/KnuckledusterBW/Anneke5.jpg

          • That’s a paddlin’

            The whole album just really just burns into your mind.

          • Fact. It is so digestible! That helps too. Her voice is so dreamy

            GL

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            And she puts a mighty throb in my pantaloons.

            http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-Joseph-Ducreux-pop-song.jpg

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Get on that, pronto! And read the book afterwards.

          • KJM
          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

            “NO SHE’S DEAD.” is my favorite line from that movie. I don’t know why, but out of context I find that line hilarious. I use it all the time and some people look at me like I have two heads.

          • KJM

            Pete had some serious stage fright and insecurity issues.

          • but rest assured: he liked goils.

          • KJM

            He made the same “mistake” Shawn Michaels made(assuming Playgirl’s majority readership was female).

          • That’s a paddlin’

            Pretty sure Keijo Niinimaa does that as well.

          • Sir Tapir the Based

            Keijo tykkää kiisselistä.

          • That’s a paddlin’

            Kyllähän se tiedetään.

          • KJM

            : (

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            That’s nothing. Dunno if he’s telling the truth, but Gerard Depardu claims he’s drinking up to 14 bottles a day nowadays.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            He’s back in rehab for that, actually. A couple of my friends who worked at the Metro in Chicago told me it was pretty common to see him take down a whole fifth the night of a show.

        • JamesGrimm

          was a common thing at the end of the tours. He put a stop to it recently though

        • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

          Yep. And he flatlined twice from heroin ODs. Between all that heroin and booze, his liver probably looks like a bag of walnuts.

    • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

      “And I no longer want hair for my eyebrows”

    • “ayyy, there’s other shit we can do to ruin your face after that!”

    • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

      Looks like he fell face first into a tackle box.

  • Donald Gibb’s sad career

    Ministry has been a soundtrack for many “good times”

  • Guacamole Jim

    I’ve never really delved into Ministry that much, and I’m realizing I need to rectify this situation. Great music, great writeup.

  • Ahh memories. Ministry was one of the bands you would discover early on when you started scratching the surface of metal bands. I remember this song being their popular tune back in the day. Don’t think it’s on this album though. “Thieves” is the jam.
    http://youtu.be/GXCh9OhDiCI

    • The W.

      They seem like an entry point for a lot of people.

      • I discovered them not too long after Metallica.

    • sweetooth0

      It’s from Psalm 69, which many consider Ministry’s peak.

    • OldMetalHead
      • These two songs were probably played back to back on Headbanger’s Ball many a time. Reminds me of when you would shout at your TV because you hated Rikki Rachtman and had to sit through 2hrs and 50min of crap to see one good video.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Also, the playlist doesn’t work for me 🙁 So I found this link instead!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvbl2vOXbT4

  • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

    Ministry rules.

    Lard comes pretty close (Uncle Al + Jello) though.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95RNUOtiloI

  • Disgustache

    This is where I imagine Ministry records their albums. I’m just sitting here in the safety of the Nebukadnezza, feeling scared by their music.

    • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

      What’s that from? I’m wanting to say Dark City, but I’d probably be wrong.

      • Disgustache

        The Matrix. I don’t remember if it’s the second shitty one or the third shitty one, but it’s not from the first good one.

        • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

          I couldn’t stand the first one, skipped out on the second and third ones halfway through.

          • Disgustache

            I fell asleep during the second one and only remember some old ass dude with white dreads looking like a clean as fuck Rob Zombie. The third one I didn’t even go see because, like the new Hobbit movies, it was just bad.

          • I was young enough when I saw the 2nd one that I was really into it. By the 3rd one I was feeling a bit done. The final fight between Neo and Agent Smith is some of the worst shit I’ve ever sat through in a theater. Also, R.I.P The Hobbit.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love
        • Thats the 3rd one fo shooooo

  • ONE OF MY FAVORITE ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

    • The W.

      SMOHLG approved. /thread

      • Ministry was also the first metal concert I ever went to when I was a wee smohlgling

    • I recall it as my first real exposure to Ministry. Had it on cassette and played the hell out of it. So much different than most of the other stuff I was listening to at the turn of that decade.

      Great article, W.

      • The W.

        Danke.

        • Bitte schön. Keine ursache.

          • The W.

            Had to look up the second phrase. My knowledge of German phrases is extremely limited.

          • I don’t use it enough to ever be too sure if I’m not messing something up.

      • I’ll never forget hitting play and hearing that ‘Thieves’ intro for the first time.

  • JamesGrimm
  • Kevin Nash & Friends

    I enjoy this album. It’s very good and I have it on CD.

  • JamesGrimm

    Filth pig is a great album too. pure heroin.

    • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

      That one and Dark Side Of The Spoon were definite drop offs, IMHO.

  • That’s a paddlin’

    You can say what you will about Ministry and especially Al, but this album will always have a special place in my heart.

    • The W.

      Actually, everyone seems to be surprisingly on board.

      • KJM

        I can dig it, and I’m way too old for Ministry to have been gateway Metal for me.

      • That’s a paddlin’

        More than I would have figured, especially after seeing FF divide the community pretty much.

        • The tunes sound a little too nu-metal/industrial to me. That is my outsider prospective.

          GL

          • JamesGrimm

            FF right?

          • Yes, I fast forward.

            GL

          • OHHH Fear Factory. I am retarded.

            GL

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Ohhhhhhhhh, ok, gotcha! Fear Factory to me just sounds like wet farts with a cyber bloop here here and there.

          • The W.

            Fear Factory or Ministry? Cuz if Ministry, that’s because they used to be an industrial band.

          • Ministry. Gotcha, noted!

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Still very much are. From Beer To Eternity is DEFINITELY industrial metal.

          • in GL we trust

            HD

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love
        • KJM

          FF does nothing for me.

          • That’s a paddlin’

            They have one song I like. But that’s it really.

          • KJM

            I also don’t care for Metal that’s too industrial sounding.

          • That’s a paddlin’

            Ah. I can’t say I would know very many industrial metal bands but I have enjoyed the few I know. I do also like Industrial music in itself.

          • Sir Tapir the Based

            Industrial >>>>>>>>> Industrial metal

          • Darkwave>>>>>>>all of the above.

          • Sir Tapir the Based

            No.

          • TBH I actually like plain old non-metal industrial more than industrial metal. I’m also a huge fan of industrial jazz and industrial pop.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q47lGHLeD_c

            (met and interviewed them at their studio downtown way back when. Sadly the mini cassette thing I recorded the interview on got busted)

          • I’m hearing some industrial-funk there as well. Now I like industrial-funk 😉

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Yep yep, alot of their stuff is like that. They even did a song with George Clinton.

            https://soundcloud.com/vanchristie3/die-warzau-feat-george

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Surprisingly there’s not many industrial metal bands, at least ones that aren’t NIN or Ministry clones. It had it’s heyday in the 90’s but alot of it was simply labels pumping out NIN clones.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Even Swans?!?

          • KJM

            Fraid so.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Noooooooooooooooo! *stares at you and chews my chips extra hard with my mouth open*

          • they were a gateway band for me. i cannot (and i tried this morning) find anything interesting in their music anymore.
            so i appreciate them as a Groundbreaker, but i just see them as very much a product of their time

          • I whip out Mechanize once in a while. Rest of their stuff (I’ve heard) I neither love nor loathe.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Fear Factory blows. Plain and simple.

      • more beer

        Great album. Great article!

  • I enjoy a lot of Ministry’s stuff but Al Jourgensen is one of my least favorite humans.

    • The W.

      In the interviews I mentioned, he comes off as a colossal egotist.

      • JamesGrimm

        He is. He also invented a genre.

        • Yeah, “Industrial METAL.” (Emphasis mine. Used to just be called industrial but we need that word METAL as a descriptor for all that is considered awesome haha.)

        • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

          Nope. Industrial metal was there before him, starting with Swans’ old stuff, Die Krupps, and of course Slab!.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrL33s-jVmU

          • JamesGrimm

            Die krupps is the only good answer. The other 2 are just hard new wave.

          • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

            Swans was new wave?!?!?!

          • JamesGrimm

            or primitive offshoots that have little or no resemblance to what we are talking about.

      • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

        A couple of my friends who knew him back home mentioned that, and of course his monstrous appetite for booze and heroin.

    • KJM

      Yeah, he seems a bit of a prick.

  • Awesome writing as usual, Duby.

    But, I pass on this 🙁

  • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

    Fuck yeah, definite classic for both metal and industrial! This and of course Psalm 69 are their best ones. The last 4 took me a while to get into, but once they did……… goddamn!

    • Óðhinn

      Their live album, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up is actually my favorite Ministry album. My favorite live album too. Very underrated. I don’t think many people know how good it is.

  • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love
  • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

    In other news, Lindemann’s new video is out, and it’s, well, um………. interesting.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=263&v=QWE_M0CX9So

  • Óðhinn
  • Óðhinn

    Great article W. (as always). I’m many ways Ministry, along with Faith No More, opened my eyes to the greatness of Metal beyond Thrash.

    Suggest groundbreakers Faith No More, Tool, and Nirvana for the future, even if it would rustle the jimmies of Metal “elitists” (so-called).

    • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

      Who can forget this fucking sacrilege?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW51PRPMi1E

      • Óðhinn

        I basically watched that whole festival on free cable back in 1999. It was almost surreal seeing the entire place on fire while Megadeth was on stage playing Peace Sells.

        • Hot Squirt Of Best Korea Love

          I did without TV or internet for the most part around that time since I was busy working and getting ready to move to Chicago.