After beginning their career with a sound more like synth-pop than the loud industrial metal that they are known for, ministry developed a more and more heavy sound. The band's metal influences culminated with Psalm 69, the ultimate blend of industrial stylings with thrash metal. Psalm 69 contains pounding drum machines, distorted vocals, samples and fairly repetitive song structures with intense thrash metal riffs and the occasional guitar solo. As a result, Psalm 69 makes for a fairly abrasive and always exhilarating listen. To match the pounding music, Al Jourgensen's lyrics generally seem to be an outcry against a society in decay.
The album kicks off with N.W.O, a mid-paced, politically charged track that mocks President George Bush's leadership (he was president at the time of the album's release). It makes use of riot samples and speeches to ram home its point, and numbs the listener with its repetition and heavy power chords. A great start to the album. The listener is then brought into JUst One Fix, a faster song with a brilliant thrashy riff and heavily distorted vocals. The song makes enough changes to not be too repetitive and is perfect headbanging material. The next song, TV 2, is even faster. It cuts between blastbeat drumming with a lightning-fast riff and a capella sections of Jourgensen screaming vocals at the top of his lungs. The lyrics are about Al's experiences with drugs. It is the harshest-sounding track on here. Next up is Hero, one of my favourites. It has another great thrash riff and packs a huge amount of intensity. This time, lyrics are about blind patriotism and has such great lines as "It's not a matter of rights, it's just a matter of war!" There's also great little guitar solo in the middle. Overall, this song is a rush. The intesity doesn't let up with Jesus built My Hotrod, the most famous song on the disc. It features Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers on vocals. His trademark gibberish vocals are used to great effect over fast, churning riffs. It also has two guitar solos, one of which is played on a slide guitar. Fun and exhilarating, this song has to be heard to be believed. To contrast with that song, number six is a slow, eight minute trip through hell. It kind of sounds like a more harrowing version of When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin. Since that is an amazing song, this one is too. The sound effects add a lot this monster of a track, as do the distorted vocals and bleak chorus of "SCARE CROW!!" The title track is up next. It has atmospheric sections featuring a background choir and voice samples of christian preachers, and other sections featuring the album's best riff and very anti-religious lyrics, made more convincing by the samples. This is another great song. The disc closes with Corrosion and Grace, two crushing industrial soundscapes with no vocals. The former has excellent drum machines creating a propulsive rhythm and is the musical equivalent of being in an avalalanche. It's hard to the describe because it's so well made. Grace is less good, but it still makes a creepy vortex of noise featuring background screams and creepy voice samples. It makes a good closer.
All in all, Psalm 69 is a great album from the pioneers of industrial metal, packed full of inventive, memorable and exhilarating songs. Highly recommended to fans of industrial or trash or both. It is so good that I can't wait to buy more Ministry albums.
P.S. On the cd box, the only hints of an album title are some Greek letters, which makes one wonder why it is offficially called Psalm 69.