Ministry return to Orlando to rip Trump a new one on stage

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Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Ministry and Chelsea Wolfe, Hard Rock Live, April 26

A whole lot of nostalgia has been on the stages lately. And I don’t think I’ve uttered the words “industrial music” this often since 1990. But, although not quite in whole form, the genre is making a bit of a comeback, as noted in my recent review of Ho99o9, Street Sects and 3Teeth.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
There’s probably no better time for one of industrial music’s most legendary bands to rise again. Ministry called it a day back in 2008, when Al Jourgensen thought, probably correctly, that the band had said all it had to say after riding out on an unrelenting three-album assault on the boneheaded administration of George W. Bush. But now that Trump’s in office, we’re not just talking dystopia, we’re living it in Technicolor, baby. So what better soundtrack is there than militant audio insurrection? And Ministry are here to supply fresh ammo for the resistance.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Even before anyone took the stage, the pre-show graphics were already hot and blunt with messages rocking the vote with HeadCount and pushing the hashtag #NEVERAGAIN. And flanking the stage were two of the infamous giant inflatable Trump Chickens, only made even more explicit with anti-Nazi signs emblazoned on their breasts.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Yes, the times are fraught again, and Ministry’s ready to go all Antifa on some shit. So now they’re back, raging like yore and even dropping samples like it’s 1988 in their latest work, the unequivocally titled AmeriKKKant. By a band loaded with metal credentials, the full fury of their music was unleashed with fidelity and head-on power, dispensing thrash at full clip. And even if it is a little too Linkin Park, the scratching on Ministry’s new album (the first and only since “Every Day Is Halloween,” I’m sure) was done impressively live by DJ Swamp.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
There were also cameos by Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
But regardless of who’s playing, Ministry begins and ends with Al Jourgensen. And the chief agitator himself wasn’t just present but great, leaner and much more electrified than last I saw him a decade ago, performing here like a frontman on a crusade instead of just a historical figurehead.
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Front-loaded with new material, their set didn’t break out the prime-era stuff until almost an hour in. But they made up for the indulgence with a closing salvo of titanic classics that began with “Just One Fix,” which ignited the room, and then brought it home like a missile with warheads like “N.W.O.,” “Thieves” and “So What.”
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Ministry at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Ministry at Hard Rock Live
Mirroring the musical intent, Ministry’s current stage show is a full visual onslaught of guerrilla messaging and hilariously edited Trump clips. In aggregate, it’s a multimedia sensory feast that’s the grand ideal of the great industrial tradition of art as warfare.

Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live
Opener Chelsea Wolfe has been zeroing in on her sound lately with extraordinary focus. The turf between dark and theatrical has long been the playground of hacks and cornballs. It’s a mine field, and working it without stepping on a Velveeta bomb is a feat that history shows is not easy. But she’s done it.
Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live
For all the shadowy corners Wolfe has explored in her career, she’s now riding high and hard with her formula right now. And as this rock-forward performance affirmed, she’s hitting a sweet spot between drama and heft.
Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live
In this balance, her voice floats above, disembodied and spectral, while a pounding march of elephant drums and deep doom grooves rumbles below toward the void. When things peak, she scales the summit of the mountain where King Woman reigns. The sum total is dread rock that weaves midnight vibes, high theater and elemental metal into a tailored shroud requisite for every self-respecting modern goth.
Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live
Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Chelsea Wolfe at Hard Rock Live
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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com