Question Of The Week: The Best Of Industrial Metal?
It’s an old argument: Sure, u are totally uninterested in an entire sub-genre. Its traits and tones mean nothing to u. Maybe the artform is in its infancy, maybe it’s past its prime. The word for your feeling about it is “unmoved.”
However! As a rational person, u understand that among the genre’s hundreds of creators, there must exist a genius or two. Someone so awesome at that sound that it’s impossible for a listener to be indifferent. Someone whose work is irresistible, even if on only one album. Someone whose prowess and vision make it easy for u to overlook/filter its undesired aesthetics in order to behold its core. It’s awesome when that happens, right? So let’s pick on one particular subgenre and hail its um occasional excellence in today’s MetalSucks Question Of The Week!
Fearless. Controversial. Half-baked. We give it to you straight every Friday afternoon. Straight to warbly monotones and entry-level drum programming. Here’s this week’s question:
Inspired by digging deep to find the treasure among the trite, we asked our staff the following:
Your bud has begged u for a recommendation of one awesome industrial-metal album. What is your first choice?
Have an awesome wknd! Thanks for reading!
No band better captures the birth, death, rebirth, and horrific second death of industrial metal than Ministry. And jaded Jourgensenophiles are quick to talk up albums like The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste or even Filth Pig, but their most popular record is best. Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed And The Way To Suck Eggs is everything that’s great about Ministry — only super-focused. Gargantuan yet uncomplicated guitars; rigid, insistent drums (or “drums”); Uncle Al’s heavily distorted screams and growls; and relentless and perfectly-executed samples. (When I finally saw that LSD movie The Trip last summer, I expected “Just One Fix” to kick in). The deep cuts are just as good as the hits: “TV II” is Napalm Death for Skinny Puppy fans, and “Scare Crow” channels Ministry’s chilly distance into something expansive and surprisingly moving. It’s Ministry’s peak and still sounds great today. It’s a high-water mark for industrial metal, if not the highest.
The last time I was here in Chicago, I randomly met one of the Bomb Gang Girls, so I have to recommend their parent band, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. They have the level of badass that KMFDM always strove for (and never achieved), plus they had a starring role in The Crow, a must-watch for every aspiring goth-industrialites. A good start is Confessions Of A Knife.
Industrial metal is blah cuz I’m not into Orwell For Dummies or queasily German expressions of sexual longing. That’s the reason I deeply appreciate Ministry’s scabby, druggy, Noe-esque machine-metal — that is, their disregard for the monogamous relationship of futuristic sounds and cold themes. But Ministry’s music can’t top one of their progeny’s masterful debut album, Burning In Water Drowning In Flame by Skrew. Into my casket will go a copy of that jam, it’s so awesome! Ministry’s Al Jourgensen and Mike Scaccia (RIP) chip in guitars, but more present is producer Phil Owen (Skatenigs) via raspy shouts that counter frontman Adam Grossman’s screamy croak. I credit guitarist Danny Lohner for elevating Burning from awesome to magical; a couple years after Burning, he departed Skrew for Nine Inch Nails — and then the latter got awesome and the former got boring. Let’s also tip caps to construction and track order: After the climax of Burning‘s seven straight mega-jamz, the album tweaks its vibe on a fearless, sinister cover of “Sympathy For The Devil,” the raddest rap-metal jam not by Stuck Mojo (“Poisonous”), and the staggering, harmonious “Prey Flesh” which could’ve replaced “Hurt” in Johnny Cash’s repertoire. Crank it!
Lately, I’ve been blasting The Amenta’s Flesh Is Heir, but Animosity by The Berserker has been a longtime favorite. It’s turbulent, frenzied death n’ grind with distorted bass drums that would blow out Skrillex’s speakers. Luke Kenny’s toxic snarls provide fuel for the band’s brief, torrential rampages. The Berzerker bit it in 2010, but they’ve left us with five excellent full-lengths; Animosity slots somewhere between the chaos of Dissimulate and the technical prowess on The Reawakening, with thoughtful songs that remain mindful of the band’s lyrical & emotional intent.
DAVID LEE ROTHMUND
I’d go with a classic: Rammstein‘s Sehnsucht. Unabashedly simple, heavy as fuck, and it’s goddamn German. Even better, you can send subliminal messages to your (hot) friend via classic jams “Bück Dich” and “Spiel Mit Mir.” And am I the only one who has <3 for Till Lindemann’s voice? Oh, and the fact that he has a flame-throwing crossbow! And probably a million zillion bucks! Specific boner-inducing moments include the machine-grinding opening riff from “Eifersucht” and the glossy chorus from “Engel” (below): “Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein” is one of the sexiest lyrics in metal.
Mine was a generation where industrial and metal dwelt in basically the same world, so for me, “industrial” is stuff like Ministry, Rammstein, and NIN. (I never got into the sounds-like-a-radiator industrial bullshit.) So I’m not sure what “industrial-metal” is, necessarily. Anyway, I’d recommend City by Strapping Young Lad. That shit is mind-blowing — whatever genre you want to slap it in — and it’s the most comprehensive mixture of industrial and traditional heavy metal that I’ve ever heard.