by Chad Beck Animositisomina

Lock up Reverend Lovejoy and Ned Flanders, Al is back. Al as in Al Jourgensen, the man largely responsible for Ministry, one of rock’s most underrated bands. You know Al, right? It was he, the Filth Pig himself, who taught us that A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste while touring through The Land Of Rape and Honey, all the while reading Psalm 69 and contemplating The Dark Side Of The Spoon. His impact on modern heavy music is incalculable, and his persona is legendary. Sure, compared to Justin Timberlake he may be “underground,’ but everyone from Trent Reznor to the Travis County Emergency Medics know Jourgensen by sound, face and reputation. Recorded in El Paso with longtime collaborator Paul Barker, Animositisomina is the sound of Al writhing and bleeding in the gutter, exactly where he belongs.

Who knows what pissed Jourgensen off this time (another Bush in the White House perhaps?), but Animositisomina delivers the pain directly. Like a horse charging out of the stable, Ministry begin the tirade with “Animosity,” a song that sounds as brutal as its content. When Jourgensen howls “The only world I know is drowning in rage / I’m underwater from my dreams to the stage,” it isn’t too difficult to take him at his word. Unlike the last couple of Ministry offerings, Animositisomina plays like an unfolding story instead of one long repetitive riff. “Animosity,” as well as “Broken,” “Piss” and “Lockbox,” are finely tuned works of noise, pummeling the listener with robotic walls of distortion and dynamics. By the time the nine-plus minute finale, “Leper,” rolls around, the listener is sure to be exhausted, a sign that Ministry have succeeded in making a great record.

While this album is a blissful return to Jourgensen’s burgeoning genius, it still doesn’t satisfy entirely. Unlike Terrible Thing and Psalm 69, portions of Animositisomina sound dull and redundant. “Shove,” for example, suffers from a bad choice of vocal effects, displaying everything that is truly rough and undesirable about Ministry. The relatively obscure cover of Magazine’s “The Light Pours Out Of Me” does little to stir the emotion of the original and simultaneously weakens Animositisomina’s cohesion and vibe.

Regardless of the sour spots, Ministry seems to be on the right track again. Famously chemically dependent, Jourgensen says he’s cleaned up, making this the first record he has created while sober. That may seem the death-knoll for longtime fans of Jourgensen’s destructive side, but a few listens to Animositisomina should calm them down. Throbbing, burning and positively impossible to pronounce, Animositisomina is the first Ministry album since the early 90s that fans need to buy.

Copyright 2003 Ad Media Inc.