Ministry – Birmingham O2 Institute, 4th July 2019


Across the USA people are busy celebrating the 4th of July, but it’s clear that industrial metal pioneers Ministry aren’t feeling quite so patriotic. Emerging onstage as a glitchy, distorted video of Donald Trump plays in the background, the first half of tonight’s set is dedicated to playing their most recent album ‘AmeriKKKant’ in full, beginning with the sludgy, apocalyptic ‘Twilight Zone’. Frontman Al Jourgensen has been at the helm of Ministry for almost 40 years and cuts a formidable figure behind his birdskull mic stand, heavily tattooed and pierced along with striking dreadlocks, barking through the bassy ‘Victims Of A Clown’ and mouthing along off-mic to the band’s trademark spoken samples, which are generally angry and political.

A bit of a change in pace comes with the album’s centrepoint ‘We’re Tired Of It’, a thrashy onslaught of classic Slayer guitars and breakneck drumming which raises the intensity before the doomy ‘Wargasm’ and aggressive ‘Antifa’. But it’s not just the state of America that Ministry are rallying against, and Jourgensen prefaces ‘Game Over’ with a warning – “it’s nearly the end for us, but it’s just beginning for you. We don’t want the UK to follow our path, so fuck Boris Johnson and fuck Nigel Farage.” ‘AmeriKKKa’ acts as a final middle finger to the establishment before the band leave the stage to signal the show’s halfway point.

The second half of the set is, according to Jourgensen, “a nostalgic throwback to when things were just mildly crappy” and features songs from the band’s classic ’88-’92 period, kicking off with ‘The Missing’ and ‘Deity’. These tracks rely more on sharp industrial riffs and see guitarists Sin Quirin and Cesar Soto taking a more active involvement, whilst favourites such as ‘Stigmata’ and ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’ coincide with a markedly improved response from the crowd, starting huge moshpits and keeping security busy hauling crowdsurfers over the barrier. The band seem a bit more comfortable and relaxed as the set goes on, and in ‘N.W.O.’ and ‘Just One Fix’ it’s easy to see the obvious influence Ministry have had on huge bands like Nine Inch Nails and Rammstein over the years. Finally, the set ends with a trippy, psychedelic version of ‘No Devotion’, Jourgensen twice lighting suspect cigarettes onstage and attempting to share them with crowd members, frustrating the venue’s security. On the whole, it’s a powerful rallying performance and even if they’re not quite the ground-breaking force they once were, they still clearly put the same amount of passion into the band and there’s a lot for fans to take away from tonight’s show.

Main support tonight comes from LA band 3teeth, who play a dark, brutal kind of industrial metal that relies more on harsh electronics and overpowering guitars whilst frontman Alexis Mincolla’s vocals range from distorted death-metal screaming to something a little closer to classic Marilyn Manson. “We’ve never played here before but I think I like you already” notes Alexis before ‘Exxxit’, which proves to be the only track taken from the band’s new album ‘Metawar’, with the rest of the set largely taken from 2017’s ‘Shutdown.exe’ record. Nevertheless, electro-metal tracks such as ‘Atrophy’ sit well alongside the bludgeoningly heavy guitars on ‘Slavegod’ and the audience seem to be very impressed with what the band have to offer, giving them a huge response after they close with the gothic-sounding ‘Master Of Decay’.

Coventry goths Deadfilmstar open up the show looking very much the part, with frontman Gary using blackout contacts and unnatural movements for a creepy, otherworldly stage presence inspired by Marilyn Manson and Mortiis. Soundwise, there’s very much a rock ‘n’ roll element on tracks like ‘Soiled, Spoilt & Somewhat Flawed’, whilst opener ‘Now I Wanna Be Your God’ echoes Iggy Pop and a “fucked up” version of Suede’s ‘Filmstar’ are prime examples of the band’s efforts to twist those sounds into something a little darker. They’re happy to admit that opening for Ministry is their “biggest dream” and they handle the occasion well with a cohesive set that goes down well with those who have made it down early enough to catch them.


Review: Ian Paget.

Photos: Ian Dunn

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