Ministry + The God Bombs @ MTelus – 14th April 2018

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The mind is a terrible thing to taste, and the flavour at MTelus last night was dark, twisted and brooding. Industrial legends Ministry were on tour for their latest effort, Amerikkkant, along with friends The God Bombs.

The upstart God Bombs got the night off to a violent, jarring beginning, lashing out with a raw synth sound, mixed with the aggressive drums and their self-described “90s alt-rock attitude.” The effort was there, but the reception from the crowd was lukewarm. This particular band’s texture of sound felt like a cross-section of 80s & 90s tastes, there were some power chords reflecting the poppiest Manson anthems, but then the band slid into some moments that almost harkened back to callow brutality of Throbbing Gristle.

The freezing rain outside put a cramp on the second act, and unfortunately, Chelsea Wolfe could not make it to the show. Her brooding, slow grind industrial-ambient is still worth checking out if you’re curious – there is a reason she’s been featured on everything from car commercials to Game of Thrones.

As two giant inflatable Trump-styled cartoon chickens, complete with anti-nazi icons, were slowly filled up with air, you knew you were in for a political show. Ministry has never shied away from speaking their mind on the callous cynical underpinnings of everything from the Gulf war to evangelical Christianity. This night was no exception.

The seven-piece outfit emerged on stage with again a different line-up, as the more than 30 years of the band has seen all roles play musical chairs, but for the frontman Al Jourgensen. Fist raised in the air, with the signature top-knot trail of dreadlocks, the industrial legend did not disappoint. Stomping onto stage like a prophet of a 21st-century dystopia, he bellowed out to the studded Montreal crowd “Montreal, ca va?” Political recordings, stock film, and quip quotes mixed the grinding thud and eerie harmonica of ‘Twilight Zone’ as the doomsday procession got underway. Donald Trumps’ face was distorted, twisted and slowed down to a mechanical crawl on a giant screen overhead.

Burton C Bell from Fear Factory took over vocals for a few noteworthy songs: Victims of a Clown, We’re Tired of It, and Wargasm. Both Jourgensen and Bruce joined hands to chime into the crescendo of the second with the words “All Hope Is Lost.” As American bombs flew into Syria less than 24 hours ago, it was a truly fitting moment.

For all the political rage, there were some things that seemed a bit off that night. Moments where there were more smartphones recording than fans moshing; Al would motion to spin and get the circle going, but with no results. Likewise, the endless Trump visual montage got tired. When you hit the point of using internet gifs of Trump boxing with CNN in a ring… is it counter-culture or edgy anymore?

Knowing the group as one of the hardest, most brutal sounds in the 80s, Ministry’s edge was also set partly in response to the stifling Evangelical culture of the country and its politics. Satanic imagery was directly provocative but laden with the ugly reality of a twisted nation. Tonight, the same theme played out, with stock film of nuclear families, crosscut with nuclear bombs – the irony of wholesome and bloodthirsty Christian America. But with so many other new terrors today – massive online surveillance, drone strikes, fake news, the themes onscreen seemed, well, old. Maybe even a little played out.

As the band progressed to old classics like NWO, and new ones like Anti-Fa, the energy and the mosh circle only grew. Of all venues where Ministry performs, there’s no doubt that Montreal has its share of fans who were intimately acquainted with street violence and encounters with police brutality. And so, as they have always been, Ministry articulated that night an anthem for the downtrodden, dispossessed and abused outsiders of our new world order.

Reviewer – David Loach
Photographer – Maxime Fremy

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