In some circles, Ministry are spoken of in tones reserved elsewhere for Slayer. Reverence for their classic material combined with dissatisfaction over their current direction marks them as one of the “Untouchable Greats” in their field. This live DVD shows them touring their 2012 comeback album Relapse shortly before the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia, and is dedicated to his memory.
Having not paid serious attention to the band since 96’s Filthpig, my first observation about Last Tangle In Paris (UDR Music) was how the band have changed. Focussing heavily on tracks written without Paul Barker, we see a band operating comfortably somewhere between generic Groove Metal and mid-period Sepultura – crunchy, thrashy Metal built around repetitive grooves and simple choruses. Where Al Jourgensen once adopted a different vocal style for each song, he now employs the same angry sneer throughout, and their genre-defining “industrial” elements are now largely restricted to the use of samples and effects.
No band with their reputation can completely ignore the past, of course, and a barrage of four tracks finishes the set. Certainly crowd-pleasing, this section unfortunately raises its own problems; not only the contrast with the newer tracks, but also the authenticity of Jourgensen’s vocals. Put simply, the vocal performances on the classics are absolutely note-perfect imitations of the versions recorded two decades ago, and sometimes visibly out of synch with what Jourgensen appears to be singing.
A live DVD is about more than just the music, of course, and Last Tangle… aims to show us a band struggling to come to terms with their grief. Rehearsal footage featuring Scaccia is interesting for fans, but the poor sound quality reduces the value of these sections. Interviews with most of the current line-up cast light on their grieving process, and Jourgensen in particular speaks humbly and openly about the impact that Scaccia’s loss has had upon the band and his own life. Laudable and occasionally genuinely touching, but overall Last Tangle… is unlikely to be of much interest to anyone other than serious fans of their recent material.
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