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  • Ministry, Meshuggah - House of Blues, Hollywood

    Tue, 08 Apr 2008 08:25:05

    Ministry, Meshuggah - House of Blues, Hollywood - The final Psalm

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    The C U LaTour marks the end of Ministry's storied career, functioning as their final jaunt. It's sad to see Uncle Al "Alien" Jourgensen, that legendary industrial metal cowboy, ride off into the sunset. However, in true Ministry fashion, Al has gone out with a bang. During the third and final sold-out show at the Sunset Boulevard House of Blues in L.A., Al and Co. sparked sonic decimation of epic proportions. The stage had two chain link fences on either side, caging in the band. A smaller fence covered the center stage, allowing Al's famous bone stack mic stand to peak over. He could lean right over the fence towards the rabid crowd going bananas for him. As soon as the band hit the stage, all hell broke loose. Initially, they launched into various cuts from Ministry's last, proper studio album The Last Sucker. The anti-Bush onslaught included "Let's Go," "The Dick Song" and "Watch Yourself" all in a row. Ever-outspoken, Al prefaced "Last Sucker" saying, "Again, this song is about our idiot fucking president." The band finished off the new songs, going back for a minute to "No W." which sounded so Satanic, G.W. probably cringed all the way back in the White House.

    Touring bass juggernaut Tony Campos (Static-X) fired off speedy bass lines that bolted down the low end on "Worthless" and "Wrong," while guitarist Tommy Victor (Prong) blazed through riff after riff. The set really picked up when the band launched into cuts from Rio Grande Blood, perhaps Ministry's heaviest and angriest offering. "Rio Grande Blood" called for the rivers to flow red, as Al dominated the stage in a way that few industrial or metal artists ever have. He headbanged furiously, barking out the lyrics to "Senor Peligro" and "Lies Lies Lies" like a general in the Devil's army. "Khyber Pass" slowed everything down to a death crawl, complete with a barrage of trippy lights and slow, grungy guitar leads.

    For the first encore, Wayne Static of Static-X joined his hero Al for a pummeling duet on "So What." The song has never sounded as angry as it did when Wayne started screaming along. His signature vocal violence transformed the classic into a 21st century sonic razor cutting through everything. Wayne and Al hit the mic together with smiles all around. After "So What," current Ministry co-conspirator, Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory/Ascension of the Watchers), took to the stage for brutal versions of "N.W.O" and "Just One Fix." Burton added a gruff, death metal scream that complimented Al's hellish wail perfectly. He even picked up the red lights and flashed the crowd, like some sort of demonic spelunker. Then of course "Thieves" simply destroyed as the double bass didn't stop, and a pit erupted.

    In true Al fashion, rather than end the show with a classic like "Psalm 69" or "Stigmata," Ministry's second encore featured covers of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" and The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" from the band's final offering, Cover Up. Burton introduced the covers with the following kernel, "How many of you were at the Ministry show at The Palladium in 1989? It was sick. I was tripping my balls off." It's great to see he's still a fan. Al made one comment later in the set while pointing to a fan's "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" shirt. "Gibby Haynes [Butthole Surfers] is not here. We can't do it! That's a New York thing." Enough L.A. musicians were in attendance though. Up in the balcony Dino Cazares (Ex-Fear Factory, Divine Heresy, Asesino), Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and Glenn Danzig all witnessed Ministry's final L.A. appearance.

    Opener Meshuggah put on a mind-bending set of crushing, instrumental virtuosity to kick everything off. Al couldn't have chose a better opener. Meshuggah's calculated devastation perfectly complimented Ministry's techno-metal violence. The Swedish quintet maintained an assault of raw, rhythmic fire. "Bleed" pitted non-stop percussion against tight mechanical guitars for pure aural chaos. "Rational Gaze" and "Perpetual Black Second" took the crowd straight to sonic Hell and back. "Straws Pulled at Random" was another veritable brainbender, seguing from a strange, echo-y guitar lead to polyrhythmic madness. Another new cut, "Electric Red" equally killed. Meshuggah may very well be in store for a similar legacy to Ministry's if they keep it up.

    Ending with covers still seemed an odd choice for Ministry, but neither The Doors nor the Rolling Stones had ever sounded this evil. Al probably also wouldn't have had it any other way. By the time balloons emblazoned with the Ministry logo fell from the ceiling during the last song, it was sad to see Uncle Al go, but a hell of a show to leave on.

    —Rick Florino

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