Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Ministry at the House of Blues Sunset (4/4/08)
I originally planned to see Autechre at the Echoplex on Friday but my Meshuggah loving brother was in town therefore I was automatically enrolled in an ear piercing convention known as three nights of Ministry and Meshuggah. I wasn't complaining as one of my favorite concerts from back in the day was Ministry, Helmet, and Sepultura at the Universal Amphitheater in 1992. Since I attended all three nights, I will break up each review by covering sections of the setlist as they were the same for all three nights. All of the shows had variances that I will address in each review.
I missed Hemlock on the first night. It turns out I didn't miss too much as I will inform you in the later reviews.
My brother can claim he discovered Tool back in the Opiate days but my claim to fame is finding Meshuggah just after the release of their mind bending masterpiece Chaosphere. The tour of Tool and Meshuggah back in 2001 was a dream come true for both my brother and I. Meshuggah needs to be experienced live in order to understand the surgical precision of the slicing guitars riffs as they disembowel the listener. Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagström use eight string Ibanez guitars that test the lower limits of a typical house speaker system. Meshuggah is touring behind their new album obZen that continues to shred the boundaries of thrash metal. "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled" kicked off their ferocious set with its unrelenting riffs and Jens Kidman's apocalyptic vocals. The funny thing about Meshuggah is watching the crowd try to pit to the music because it is so off kilter. This didn't prevent the audience from trying as the circle pit started to churn. "Bleed" from obZen is a technical marvel as the guitar riffs form slight waves as they chromatically rise and fall with the musical tide. "Perpetual Black Second" is a bass rumbling warhead that convulses and oozes as Jens barks at the audience. I thought I was cool with my Ibanez 7-string but I realize I now need an 8-string.
I used to have a number of concert t-shirts from various bands but only a few ever broke the elusive one t-shirt per band rule. Ministry was one of those bands. The Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Taste was one of my first compact disc purchases as I remember ripping open the old school long box packaging. I will admit though I cheated and scoured the web for prior show song lists. I wasn't surprised that a majority of the more recent tracks were played as Ministry just released their "final" album The Last Sucker.
Al Jourgensen is the only constant in Ministry. Al's band has been through numerous changes in their line up but currently consist of Tommy Victor (Guitars) formerly of Prong, Tony Campos (Bass) of Static-X, John Bechdel (Keyboards), Aaron Rossi (Drums) and Sin Quirin (Guitars). I was hoping that original bassist Paul Barker might stop by for an appearance but it was not in the cards.
"Let's Go" was an appropriate industrial thrash metal opening to the almost two hour long set. Earplugs are mandatory for any Ministry concert as the show could potentially keep ringing in your ears for hours after the show. Tommy Victor handled the crushing riff of "Let's Go" easily as he chugged away on his custom Schecter guitar with a Prong logo at the 12th fret. Sin Quirin had a flying white V guitar screaming in tandem with Tommy's concrete riffs. "The Dick Song" has another sickening riff with high pitched squealing harmonics. "Watch Yourself" was prefaced by Al warning the audience of the potential dangers of Patriot Act. The new songs sounded fierce live as the band members rattled the chain link fence in front of them. Al had his trademark insane microphone stand decked with skulls and handles long before Jonathan Davis of Korn ordered a custom H.R. Giger microphone stand. The energy of this night was surpassed by Saturday's show but Al would frequently joke how most of the audience was probably on the guest list. The night had a few surprises that I will highlight in the future reviews.