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MINISTRY: RIO GRANDE BLOOD
“… voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
-Hermann Goering, Nazi Commander, April 18, 1946 (Nuremberg Diary, by Gustave Gilbert)
If 9/11 was the Reichstag Fire, then Rio Grande Blood is D-Day: an all-out aural assault against the occupying forces of demagoguery and complacency. A savage, blistering and unforgiving onslaught of industrial metal dissent on American foreign policy, jingoistic patriotism, war for oil and the greed of a few at the cost of millions.
With Rio Grande Blood (5/2/06 – 13th Planet Records/Megaforce), Ministry’s chief executive madman Al Jourgensen harnesses bunker-busting guitar missiles, drums which pummel like carpet bombs and audio samples ripped from today’s headlines promulgating the grim reality of the State of the Union. Rio Grande Blood is an industrial guerilla Patriot Act admonishing conformity and embracing the concept that national pride takes many forms and questioning authority in a free society should not come at the price of being labeled as seditious with fear of imprisonment.
A scathing diatribe on the past six years of the George W. Bush administration and its global effects, Rio Grande Blood is an unapologetic musical protest against what many people, and certainly Al Jourgensen, view as a corrupt administration bent to further its own political and macroeconomic agenda.
“It is a very focused record,” Jourgensen explains. “There’s an agenda to this record. Other records I’ve sang about personal demons in my closet which I don’t expect other people to share. But this record, like Houses of the Molé, has an obvious purpose.”
The advent of Ministry brought Al Jourgensen the task of facing his personal demons during the primary stage of his career and exorcising those spirits through an aggressive musical soundscape which forever changed modern rock and metal.
With Rio Grande Blood, Jourgensen enters the vital second term of his musical journey with Ministry, he remains plagued by demons, though these devils have taken on a decidedly worse countenance: compassionate conservatism, fascism, war, countless intelligence failures, corporate hegemony, regime change, globalization, hate, greed, corruption, fear, terrorism, and more death. There is blood on the hands of Señor Arbusto and Al Jourgensen is not mollified by military pageantry or duct tape. He sees evil in its true, cunning guise.
With tracks “Fear (Is Big Business),” “Lieslieslies,” “The Great Satan,” and “Palestina” Jourgensen drives his agenda home with incendiary lyrics and a brutal barrage of guitars and samples. Rio Grande Blood is gruesome, with songs that are both aggressive and poignant, and at times, remarkably funny. Says Jourgensen, “This record definitely pushes the boundaries of so-called industrial and metal.” The album also features guest appearances from Jello Biafra (whooping it up on “Ass Clown”) and Sgt. Major, a retired drill sergeant who hands down some extreme verbal discipline on Jourgensen’s ode to the military in “Gangreen.”
“I know sometimes it just seems like a hopeless cause. On election night, in 2004, we were on tour in Nashville. Before the show, as the election results were coming in, I was in total shock, my head in my hands and wondering how fast my wife and I could move to Canada. I was just ready to give up. Then I found the anger within to go, ‘No! Fuck you! I’m not going to turn tail and run. This is stupid!’ They are so transparent about what they’re doing and I think a lot of people are finally starting to realize that. And I have something to say about it, with guitars!”
Political awareness is certainly not new territory for Ministry. First explored, notably, on Psalm 69 with “N.W.O.” during the tenure of George H.W. Bush, Jourgensen later returned to the subject as it became rich with lyrical inspiration. The second Bush administration had, as in the first, taken the United States to war, and during the 2004 re-election campaign Ministry released its critically acclaimed Houses of the Molé. A second “W” Bush “victory” has culminated in far-reaching global concerns, and Jourgensen has re-emerged to contemplate them.
Rio Grande Blood marks the triumphant return of Jourgensen, the avenger.
Having finished with major labels, Al Jourgensen recently formed a new record label, “13th Planet Records,” with worldwide distribution via noted metal label Megaforce in North America and Soulfood Distribution internationally. In the midst of a vitally prolific stage of his career, Jourgensen has also reformed the Revolting Cocks with a new line-up and a new record, and is set up for a world tour with both bands this spring and summer, lovingly titled “MastabaTouR.”
As Jourgensen prepares for a world tour he has assembled an impressive line-up of musicians to bring this monster to life. Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, Prong guitarist Tommy Victor, long-time Ministry axe-virtuoso Mike Scaccia, keyboardist John Bechdel (Fear Factory, Prong, Killing Joke) and drummer Joey Jordison.
With a renewed D.I.Y. devotion to his music and a burning angst toward the outrageous geo-political nation-building and nation-destroying agenda of the Bush administration,
Al Jourgensen returns to advance his new world order: prolific, unbowed, and restless. Anger never sounded so good.
- Mick Stingley