Psalm 69 by Ministry
After a few less well-known albums recently, I think it's time to get back to an album some people are familiar with. An album that will incite some discussion. Something to get people going "huh, you like what?" or "what do you mean overlooked?" or "hell shit YES, Ministry RULES". My guess is that a few people I know, or who are reading this, have once owned this album only to forget about it, or sell it, or something else along those lines. Or maybe you always steered way clear of Ministry and the kinds of freaks who listen to them. Well, whatever your feelings are, or have been, about Psalm 69 (once fully known as Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs) there's one thing that is certain: the album flat out ROCKS.
Now, this isn't your average Led Zeppelin, or Metallica, rocks-out-the-jams kind of music though. No, when I say that this album rocks I mean it in the nastiest, most sincere kind of way. It's like biting into a lit lightblub, getting pretty badly electrocuted, and then chewing on the glass for a while before spitting out the whole bloody mess in George Bush's face. It's the kind of album that could inspire Eeyore to start hitting the meth with Tigger and form a rock band just so they could trash the shit out of Pooh's house. Yeah, something along those lines. It used to make for some great pre-game music back when I was playing defensive end on my high school football team and I think THIS is the album I would be listening to REALLY loudly on my iPod to get psyched up if I was an iPod listening Olympic snowboarder. Needless to say, it's a long way away from the first song I ever heard by Ministry, the synth-poppy "Everyday is Halloween".
Psalm 69 is a perfect blend of rock, metal and industrial. I'm sure the album would appear on any list that took a good look at the best industrial albums ever released but I can't say that I've really ever heard anyone honestly consider this as a great album outside of those circles. To me, it is right up there with The Downward Spiral as the two albums that are the pinnacle of industrial rock and that (sadly) had so much to do with influencing (popular) crappy nu-metal.
Easily one of the most anticipated albums from that year, especially after Nine Inch Nails had helped bring industrial metal to the mainstream with the success of the overtly Ministry-worshipping Pretty Hate Machine, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs represented the high point of Alain Jourgensen and Paul Barker's incarnation as loud-as-hell electro-thrashers. The pump had been primed the previous year with the fierce "Jesus Built My Hot Rod," featuring Gibby Haynes from Butthole Surfers on vocals ranting over a galloping molten explosion of beats and feedback. Presented in a slightly edited version here, it's still the high point of the album, while a reworked version of its B-side, "TV Song" (here called "TV II" and with Jourgensen on vocals instead of Chris Connelly), also makes for some good noise. Throughout, however, Ministry as a unit shows their facility for straightforward, brutal noise crossed with clinical, on-the-money arrangements, whether it's the collage of crowd-riot samples bubbling throughout "N.W.O." or the chantings of Christian praise on the title track. As a role model for any number of nu-metallers down the road, Psalm 69 is often terribly underrated, but where Ministry succeeds while so many failed easily has to do with sheer vitriol only slightly tempered by the overwhelming hugeness of the songs. Consider the massive impact of the drums on "Just One Fix" as they lead into tightly wound, downward-spiral riffing or the hyper-speed clatter of "Hero" and "Corrosion." Jourgensen's rasped lyrical visions of a corrupt America, drug addiction, mindless patriotism, and religious hypocrisy aren't per se revelatory, but anyone who lived through the Bush years -- either father or son -- might find plenty to sympathize with. Secret highlight: "Scarecrow," which takes the massive slow pound of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" and takes it to a strung-out, harrowing new location.As you probably realize, this is not your typical EAR FARM pick. People who know me might not have guessed that I used to listen to this album. Used to listen to it a lot. In fact, listening to it again these past few days I'm pleasantly surprised to hear all of these songs again, but proceed with caution. This music very well could make your ears bleed and isn't for all tastes, namely some of those who I know are reading this site. If you're still with me though, go listen NOW.
"Just One Fix" "Hero" "Jesus Built My Hotrod"
Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM
#19 - Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column
if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list
Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s