The American rock band, Ministry was founded out of Chicago, Illinois in 1981 by Al Jourgensen. At first, the direction of the group was focused on synth-heavy, pop-style music before venturing into the heavy metal that would later form a genre of its own, namely industrial metal. From the very start of the band’s first album, all the way to 2008, then from 2011 onward, it has been Jourgensen serving as producer, singer, and instrumentalist. Before becoming chart-hitting, Grammy Award-nominated stars in the music industry, Ministry had undergone a number of lineup changes and tough challenges. It wasn’t until 1988 the band would earn their first big breakthrough, which came about after making the music style change from synth-pop to a grinding heavy metal sound that is now more commonly referred to as industrial metal. Much of the Ministry’s music contained a reference to biblical content, as well as political, which often met with mixed reactions from reviewers and the audience.
Since the start of Ministry as a musical group, Jourgensen has never been shy about his political opinions, which was often reflected in the music. Over the career span of Ministry, there have been fifteen studio albums, fourteen compilation albums, eight studio albums, five video albums, and thirty singles to their discographic portfolio. With the latest album, Moral Hygiene that was released on October 1, 2021, it looks as if Jourgensen nor Ministry are quite ready for the retirement line yet. Over the years, Ministry went from synth-pop to industrial metal, then onto thrash metal as it seemed the aggression of the group intensified as Jourgensen got older.
Released on March 9, 2018, (AmeriKKKant) was Ministry’s fourteenth studio album. It came as a bit of a surprise as it was publicly announced after From Beer to Eternity was to be the final studio recording. What sparked Jourgensen to go through with the album was a determination to prove that full-length albums still have as much value today as they did when they first started making them. There was a considerable amount of political material on it that simply illustrated how divided the nation is and how badly manipulated the people are by the media. Among some music critics, the album was seen as a work of art. Among others, it was trash. One key observance was whoever made the judgment did have much to do with their own political alignments. There were no singles released from the album that saw any chart success, but certainly had much to say about political and social issues that still continue to plague Americans.
Ministry’s twelfth studio album, (Relapse), was released on March 23, 2012. It generally received favorable reviews and it was the final album guitarist Mike Scaccia would be alive to see released. Of all the albums released up to this point, this was the heaviest hitting in instrumentation and vocals, but also among the band’s most refined work so far. As an album, the chart positions Relapse had when it came out was as high as number sixteen on the US Billboard Hard Rock Albums. Like so much of Ministry’s music, there was much political opinion that was brought up in the music, track for track.
13. Houses of the Mole
(Houses of the Mole) was the first of three studio albums that directly targeted then-president, George Bush, as a musical political statement. For Ministry, it was the group’s ninth studio album when it was released on June 21, 2004. It was also the first without Paul Baker, who was the band’s bassist, producer, and engineer. However, it did see the return of Mike Scaccia since 1996. The reviews of the album were mixed, ranging from low to high, which all came from critics based on their own political preferences and affiliations.
12. Rio Grande Blood
The second of three anti-George Bush albums released by Ministry came out on May 2, 2006. (Rio Grande Blood) was the band’s tenth studio recording. It received mixed reviews by the critics, ranging from negative to positive, the opinions seemed to align with whichever political faction the critics personally favored themselves. This album was the first without Paul Barker, who has been with Ministry since 1986. It was also the first recording that replaced the band’s industrial metal influence with thrash metal.
11. The Last Sucker
(The Last Sucker) was Ministry’s eleventh studio album. Released on September 18, 2007, it was the third album from a trilogy of albums that criticized the then president of the United States, George Bush. Jourgensen mentioned after he was finished with all three of these albums that he felt guilty for bashing Bush as he later realized the former president himself wasn’t the problem plaguing America. It was all the puppet strings that controlled his every move, one which Jourgensen called an oligarchy. The album mostly received positive reviews at the timing it came out.
10. From Beer to Eternity
The thirteenth studio album, (From Beer to Eternity), was released on September 6, 2013. Before the official release of the album, long-time guitarist, Mike Scaccia died. This would serve to be his final album and it was announced by Jourgensen that it would be Ministry’s final recording. However, this was not the case as two more had sprung up since then. The album mostly received favorable reviews, receiving four out of five stars from Loudwire and Metal Hammer. There was a single that was released from the album, (PermaWar), which is a song that goes into detail about how big business profits from war. Again, it showed Ministry’s opinion about big business and politics through its musical style.
9. Moral Hygiene
(Moral Hygiene) was released on October 1, 2021, as Ministry’s fifteenth studio album. In reviews, it received a four out of five score from Kerrang! as well as mostly positive reviews from Classic Rock and Blabbermouth. While there haven’t been any chart-hitting singles released from the album, long-term fans of Ministry appreciate that it’s as abrasive and as confrontational as ever.
Recorded and released as Ministry’s eighth studio album, (Animositisomina) has since sold over 46,000 copies in the US since its February 17, 2003 release. It fell significantly shorter than all the previous albums in sales, which the band members at the time, including Jourgensen, admitted was not an enjoyable album to make at all. It was also the first album in four years the group recorded and released, and it also served to be Paul Barker’s last as the ban’s bassist, producer, and engineer since 1986. This album also was the last time Ministry’s music was industrial metal-based as the next series of record releases generated the thrash metal style.
7. Dark Side of the Spoon
Released on June 8, 1999, (Dark Side of the Spoon) was studio album number seven for Ministry. From it, the single, Bad Blood, was nominated at the 2000 Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance. Upon its release, the music critics did not give the album favorable reviews and the controversial album cover resulted in the records being pulled off store shelves. The title of this album served two meanings at the time it was released. The most obvious is the play on words from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but the second reason was considerably darker. Not one to shy away from opinions about political and social issues, Jourgensen’s artwork and music for this album illustrated how willing the American people are to be overfed with one spoonful of garbage hurled at them at another without so much as questioning why it’s happening, nor the consequences that are bound to come from it.
6. With Sympathy
The debut album from Ministry was released on May 19, 1983, through the BMG record label. The tracks featured songs that were synth-heavy pop-rock material, which earned the band mixed reviews for their work. At the time, the pop genre was heavily saturated with the synthetic sounds of keyboards and a multitude of pop artists that Ministry’s recordings simply were drowned out by the wave. However, the album did produce two charted singles, first with (I Wanted to Tell Her), which peaked at number thirteen on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, as well as on Recorded Music New Zealand’s chart at number thirty-five. The second single, (Work for Love), appeared on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart at number twenty. After completing the tour to promote the album, Jourgensen admitted he didn’t care for the album at all but had to comply with the contractual arrangements to make what he felt was a recording too cheesy to his liking. Although the album was commercially successful, it wasn’t a standout recording that catapulted Ministry’s career into stardom just yet.
(Twitch) was the second album produced by Ministry, this time through Warner Bros. Released on March 12, 1986, it was the first of six albums through the record label. It was slightly more successful in sales since the debut album, and it wasn’t as saturated with synth-pop. This time, a more aggressive, industrial dance music style was recorded, which was influenced by the British music scene as it was in that nation where Jourgensen and his bandmates spent their time recording. The change in music style was a refreshing one for Ministry, as well as for music fans as this marked the official beginning of a band that was on the verge of developing their own sound, their own fanbase, and the emergence of genre music that was more complex than simple rock and metal.
4. Filth Pig
(Filth Pig) was Ministry’s sixth studio album that was the group’s highest-charting after its January 30, 1996 release, but received the most amount of criticism against it. Despite the poor record sales due to a divided fanbase, Ministry experienced the best charting success it ever received throughout its career. The singles, (The Fall) and (Lay Lady Lay) both became songs that would find chart success with the first of the two reaching as high as number eighteen on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and the second appearing at number 128 on the UK Singles Chart.
3. The Land of Rape and Honey
Ministry’s third studio album, (The Lande of Rape and Honey), was released on October 11, 1988, and it later became certified gold by the RIAA, which would be the first of three occasions the group would have an album sell enough copies to earn certifications from the music industry. This was the first album where Ministry broke away from the synth-pop style it started out with and into an industrial influence of heavy metal music. The change served the group well as this now set them up with their own sound that earned them greater respect from the music community than before.
2. The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
(The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste) was Ministry’s fourth studio album, which was released on November 14, 1989. This was the album where greater focus on heavier guitar riffs began. Heavy with disdain against politics and corruption, this recording brought forth the hit single, (Burning Inside), which charted at number twenty-three on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste also earned a gold certification from the RIAA and was one of the highest rating albums from the music critics the group ever produced.
1. Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
The fifth studio album from Ministry, (Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs), which was released on July 14, 1992. Originally, the album was supposed to be titled The Tapes of Wrath, but circumstances had it where it was settled with Psalms instead. The album was Ministry’s most successful recording as it became certified platinum by the RIAA, as well as certified gold by Music Canada, and certified silver by the Australia Recording Industry Association (ARIA). There were also two charted hits, first with (Jesus Built My Hotrod), which peaked as high as number nineteen on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay and at number thirty-four on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. (N.W.O.) was the second, which climbed up to number eleven on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay and at number forty-nine on the UK Singles Chart.