Cover songs can be tricky. A balancing act that often results in calamity. Lean too far one way and be accused of musical blasphemy; keep things too safe and be reliably informed you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place. So with that in mind, surely an album consisting entirely of cover versions is just asking for trouble, isn’t it?Continue reading
Ministry has shared a new video and single ‘Alert Level’! This is the first new music from the band since the critically acclaimed 2018 album AmeriKKKant (Nuclear Blast). Ministry is working on their new album, their 15th, with more info coming soon.The song is actually a call to arms of fans, asking them to check on their peers in this perilous time. The track also has a new lyric video, created by Agent Ogden, which you can watch right now! Continue reading
Bill Rieflin, who had a four-decade career as a drummer across Punk, Alternative Rock, Industrial Metal, and Progressive Rock has died. He was 59. Initial reports of his passing made no mention of a cause of death, but his Wikipedia page reported a battle with cancer, confirmed by his friend, session drummer Kevin Chamberlin. Most recently Bill was the drummer for King Crimson and the news was reported by KC founder Robert Fripp in a very sad and touching memorial via Facebook. Fripp wrote that Rieflin’s wife, Tracy, called him with the news. “Tracy told Toyah (Fripp’s wife) and me that the day was grey, and as Bill flew away the clouds opened, and the skies were blue for about fifteen minutes. Fly well, Brother Bill! My life is immeasurably richer for knowing you.” Rieflin’s career began in his hometown of Seattle, where he drummed with a variety of local acts, notably the punk rock group The Blackouts. The band’s final EP was produced by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, with whom Rieflin became friends with. Jourgensen recruited the Rieflin to join Ministry when Blackouts broke up, and Rieflin played on the band’s 1988 album The Land of Rape and Honey, an industrial music iconic album in the genre. He continued as a member of the group through the mid-90s, contributing to five of the band’s LPs. Following his departure from Ministry in 1996, he played with KMFDM, New York experimental band Swans and folk group Angels of Light. Rieflin also played on Nine Inch Nails’ 1999 double album The Fragile. Also that year, he released his debut solo album, Birth of a Giant. It was during this time that a publicist introduced him to R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. The drummer would then join and contribute to R.E.M.’s final three albums — 2004’s Around the Sun, 2008’s Accelerate and 2011’s Collapse Into Now. Rieflin had previously collaborated and remained friends, announced that the drummer had joined King Crimson in 2013. Rieflin would tour with the group and appear on five of their ensuing live albums, released between 2015-18. He had been absent from the group since taking an indefinite sabbatical in 2019. Bill was an incredible drummer and kind soul. Not many artists can say they wrote and performed with three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts (King Crimson, R.E.M., and Nine Inch Nails) as Bill did. Many artists paid tribute to Bill, including fellow Seattle musician Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. We send out condolences to Bill’s family, friends and many fans at this time.Continue reading
I’m looking at Spirit Crusher (Prosthetic) the latest release from Sweden’s Dödsrit and I’m getting a feeling. Not super familiar with the band but judging by the font and the presence of umlauts we know extreme music is on the way, particularly of the Black Metal persuasion. And these song lengths certainly suggest experimentation and a non-commercial nature. Dödsrit is a one-man project isn’t it?
Those one man acts always have the most to say.Continue reading
Has there ever been a better time to draw up material for a new Ministry album? This hasn’t been lost on Al Jourgensen, who packs the latest Ministry release, AmeriKKKant (Nuclear Blast) with as many ridiculous Donald Trump samples as he can find.Continue reading
Ministry will be releasing their highly anticipated new album, AmeriKKKant, on March 9th via Nuclear Blast. In a new interview with the label, front man Al Jourgensen shares his bold predictions for 2018. Continue reading
Ministry And Death Grips
At Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn, NY
All Photos By Omar Cordy/OJC Photography Continue reading
As the earth shook and the ground parted, so did the gates to another world open, spewing forth demons of the Blackest of the Black. Bands, fans, vendors and the occasional celebrity descended upon Oak Canyon Park—a quaint little camping spot nestled in the hills of Silverado, California—for the Blackest of the Black Festival. This gathering of the depraved and debauched was the brainchild of none other than Jersey native and trailblazer of horror punk and doom-goth-metal, Glenn Danzig. Opening day of the festival coincided with the release of Danzig’s new album, Black Laden Crown (Nuclear Blast Records), his follow-up to 2015’s Skeletons. Continue reading
After the death of Ministrybandmate Mike Scaccia in 2012, the band’s frontman and former walking heroin and alcohol repository Al Jourgensen came to the decision that, after one last release, it was time he retired the Ministry name from active recording duty, keeping the band alive solely as a touring entity.
So, after the release of final studio album ‘From Beer To Eternity’ (AFM, 13th Planet), and with the aid of engineer Sam D’Ambruoso, work began on a brand new project. The eponymously titled début, Surgical Meth Machine’(Nuclear Blast) is the result, and anyone foolish enough to wonder if age or recent events might possibly have led to Uncle Al calming down or mellowing out is going to be in for quite a rude awakening.
Listening to Surgical Meth Machine is like having an aggressive, urine-soaked vagrant grabbing you by the collar and shrieking random shards of broken-toothed, spittle-flecked abuse into your face through cracked, vomit encrusted lips for forty horrifyingly disorienting minutes.
The ranting begins with ‘I’m Sensitive’, which, after a sarcastic opening monologue, bursts into life with all the actual sensitivity of a breeze block as Al screams ‘I DON’T FUCKING CARE!!’ at the top of his lungs. The jagged tirades continue with the Ministry-esque ‘Tragic Alert’ which climaxes with some stupidly fast electronic beats, and things continue in the same vein with ‘I Want More’ as the drum machine really starts to panic.
More bile is spewed as Jourgensen demands ‘Rich People Problems”, and although he clearly doesn’t need any help getting his feelings across, he enlists the help of an equally irritated Jello Biafra on ‘I Don’t Wanna’. “Blah blah blah blah blah!” barks Al on ‘Smash and Grab’ and by now, you really want him to leave you alone.
Things get seriously demented with the aptly titled ‘Unlistenable’ as the poor drum machine finally suffers a complete nervous breakdown and goes to sit in the corner and cry before the boisterous punk of ‘Gates of Steel’ bounces its way into the room like Andrew WK covering Black Flag‘s ‘TV Party’.
Things taper off sharply with ‘Spudnik’ and ‘Just Go Home’, all widdly guitars, drum machines and samples, but with all the impact of a rambling alcoholic losing his way halfway through a sentence. ‘I’m Invisible’ rounds things off. A very different, trippy, but strangely compelling track which sounds like a 3am drive with Timothy Leary and Hunter S Thompson.
With both feet still planted firmly in Ministry territory, Jourgensen shows no real interest in wanting to change or update his sound. If you enjoyed his particular brand of fast, obnoxious, Industrial noise before, then the chances are that this will float your boat just as much. If you want growth or innovation, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. But something tells me Uncle Al doesn’t give one single, solitary fuck about that.
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Thirteen years is a long time. And lots of things have happened in the time frame since Coal Chamber’slast album, 2002s Dark Days. Let’s see what’s different. Physical copies of albums don’t sell all that well. Boy bands gave way to something even more horrifying in Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Rock Band and Guitar Hero were an odd fad. EDM unfortunately exploded onto the mainstream.
Oh and Nu-Metal was swapped out as the popular sub-genre by Metalcore and/or the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Even Coal Chamber’s frontman Dez Fafara switched scenes and released six consistently solid albums with Devildriver.
So the question becomes what can Coal Chamber, Nu-Metal pioneers that suffered a fiery first death, offer this brave new world of extreme metal? In new album Rivals (Napalm Records) just maybe their strongest and most focused release ever.
Lead single ‘I.O.U. Nothing’ sets an aggressive and confident tone that permeates the following 38 minutes. And confidence is the right word here as Coal Chamber sound like a new band as opposed to one trying recapture its former glory. It’s all mid-tempo crunch from there on out with über-producer Mark Lewis providing a clean, but menacing mix. It’s public knowledge that their 2003 onstage demise was dramatic and highly amplified by substance abuse, but time does really seem to heal all wounds here. Dez and Co. have taken years of successful and momentum gaining reunion tours and channeled it on Rivals. For the faithful, ‘Suffer in Silence’ and ‘The Bridges you Burn’ are straight Nu-Metal rippers from when the genre had teeth instead of gimmicks. But there is musical progression as well, ‘Another Nail in the Coffin’ and the title track are more in sync with Devildriver’s punishing groove than channeling the 90s.
Not every blow connects, ‘Light in the Shadows’ and ‘Empty Handed’ feel more like afterthoughts or songs that couldn’t quite crack it on Dark Days. But the important take away in Rivals is the energy and level of commitment. Especially from a band that didn’t need to release a new record and continue touring. Drummer Mikey ‘Bug’ Cox and guitarist Miguel Rascon had been toying in other musical ventures for years and we all know what Fafara has been up to. They didn’t need to, but the great news is that they wanted to.
Rivals is a solid recording even if you didn’t take Coal Chamber or the sub-genre they had been associated with seriously. And in defense of Nu-Metal, for how many kids (myself included) was that a gateway drug to other bands? Maybe I wouldn’t have eventually learned of Relapse Records if I didn’t start with Korn and Mushroomhead first. Maybe there’s a great column waiting to be written on the importance of Nu-Metal, but that’s for another time.
So if not for the strong music, respect Rivals and Coal Chamber for being available to a new generation of young and hungry metalheads.