Rio Grande Blood (13th Planet)
by Martin Popoff
Al Jourgensen has been back in a vicious groove for a while now. His last album, Houses of the Mole, was every bit as potent as the much lauded Psalm 69 breakthrough, and Rio Grande Blood is much of the same, only less considered, more flung. Striking cover, great title (ZZ Top, crude oil etc.)… both of which sum up the lyrical venom Jourgensen is hurling at the Bush administration, o’er music that is fast, thrashy, abrasive, but with that patented sizzler of an industrial drum sound, which frankly sounds worse and cheaper than a real drum recording, no matter what angle you approach it from. Like Rob Zombie, Ministry go for a bit of a dark drone ethic, both making a difficult din that sounds like city streets in action at 9:00 AM, coffee in hand, newspaper tucked under arm as you jaywalk past jackhammers. Adding to the effect is the use of political samples, and then Al ranting pretty amusing and intelligent anti-Bush words all over the place in his haranguing roar. Guests Jello Biafra and Liz Constantine show up (and George, repeatedly, although against his will), but a real live old coot of a marine is in there too, Sgt. Major, who goes through the clichés in a sort of anti-jarhead track called “Gangreen.” I dunno, taking a track like “Palestina,” the electroshock treatment on the vocals and drums tends to wear me out, as does the rudimentary punk thrash riff. But I suppose this is all what makes Ministry sort of underground, this idea that it’s standoff-ish and opaque. All told though, Al off heroin is a robust music machine, as the man’s recent fine output attests hi-test.