Ministry - Filth Pig
Warner Bros. Records
Industrial Metal
10 songs (54:24)
Release year: 1996
Ministry, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

It’s rather a cliché that only the Ministry albums released under a Republican administration are any good. Even Al Jourgensen himself has dismissed his mid-90s output, but the fact remains that when you’ve gotten over the Thrash raging of the albums before and after, sometimes a more-laid back sound works better, and Filth Pig is in many ways an overlooked masterpiece from Ministry. As a follow-up to their breakthrough album, the classic Psalm 69, Filth Pig was a letdown for many, taking a Sludgier, less catchy sound, more in tune with the band’s drug-induced nightmares than the repeat of the Psalm that fans wanted. It was a commercial failure for Ministry, despite being the band’s highest charting album in the USA, and split the fanbase right down the middle. You can’t really blame Al for wanting to try something different, distracted as he was by vast amounts of drugs, and the twitchy heroin-induced paranoia that ran through previous albums is here channelled into a dark attack on the listener’s ears.

Describing this as a nightmare is actually a good way to introduce it. The opening track, the incredibly catchy Reload, is the closest to what people think of as classic Ministry yet is surprisingly complex and willing to go off into odd time signatures and experiments with the Industrial sound, opening the album up as it trudges off into pastures that are dark indeed. The title track, with its squirming of self-loathing and classic rock influence in the form of the melodic lashes of harmonica, sets the scene, and from then on the album rarely lifts its head from the trough of human despair. Lava beats you into submission with its sludgy beats, whilst Crumbs takes a more visceral, rock n’roll approach to the formula.

Really, as an album Filth Pig is hard to beat in the Industrial world, the audible atmosphere of drug-induced misery beaten by few. Even if you’re not listening for the smackhead burnout, the music produced here is well worth sitting through, especially moments like the tribal intensity of The Fall, recalling Killing Joke at their most emotional and heavy. Picking standout tracks from Filth Pig, however, pretty much misses the point; this is paranoia at its worst. ‘Everything is useless, nothing works at all, nothing ever matters, welcome to the fall’ as the band state on that track, and that sense of mid-nineties depression is clear and easy to digest here. The band’s ‘hit’ from this album, the Bob Dylan cover Lay Lady Lay, is deceptively simple and easy to listen to, but behind the surface acoustics lurks a dark despair which is easy to pick up on, but the actual understanding of which will make you return to the album time and time again.

That’s probably the best way to view Filth Pig, a pitch-black wallowing in the darkest of human emotions that will not necessarily reveal itself on a single listen. If you’re entering into Ministry’s world from the later end, wanting nothing but Thrashy political anthems from the band, then Filth Pig will mean little to you. Yet in your lowest moment, when you think all others have cast you aside, then Filth Pig may well make all too familiar sense, and it's that moment of familiarity, that moment when you understand the self-disgust and individually human darkness here that lurks within us all, that makes Filth Pig an engrossing experience indeed. Industrial Metal at its best is more than just Thrash with bleepy effects, and the dark atmosphere conjured forth here is something that all fans of Ministry should be aware of. The Dark Side Of The Spoon may be easier to listen to, but Filth Pig contains the rawest glimpse into Al’s drug-addled soul yet, and so has a special resonance in a scene that was in serious danger of vanishing at the time. It may have been a disappointment when released, but Filth Pig sums up a moment in Ministry’s career perfectly, and as such deserves far more than the summary dismissal that it has been accorded up until now.

Killing Songs :
Reload, Filth Pig, Crumbs, The Fall, Lay Lady Lay
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Thomas quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Ministry that we have reviewed:
Ministry - From Beer to Eternity reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Ministry - Relapse reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Ministry - Psalm 69 reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Ministry - Cover Up reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Ministry - The Last Sucker reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Mon May 11, 2009 10:13 pm
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