HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Spiritus Mortis - Fallen
(Black Lotus) Incredibly (or maybe not - sorta like Pentagram!), this doom band has been around for almost 20 years, with only a second album to their proud name. Known as the first doom or stoner rock band to come out of Finland, Spiritus Mortis handle themselves well and roughly, creating an antiquey din along the lines of Candlemass, with a singer in Vesa Lampi who emanates an authoritative doom persona with an eccentric crank somewhere between Messiah Marcolin and Voivod's Snake. Fallen's production isn't as good as that of '03's self-titled debut, but the songs are just as creaky and authentic. Surely these guys would have been lauded as doom forefathers had all sorts of bad luck not befallen them along the way resulting in scant output. But now... this sounds good, even admirably versatile, but one of the many.
Rating 7.5

Ministry - Rio Grande Blood

Al Jourgensen has been back in a vicious groove for a while now. His last album, Houses Of The Mole, was every bit as potent as the much lauded Psalm 69 breakthrough, and Rio Grande Blood is much of the same, only less considered, more flung. Striking cover, great title (ZZ Top, crude oil etc.)... both of which sum up the lyrical venom Jourgensen is hurling at the Bush administration, o'er music that is fast, thrashy, abrasive, but with that patented sizzler of an industrial drum sound, which frankly, sounds worse and cheaper than a real drum recording, no matter what angle you approach it from. Like Rob Zombie, Ministry go for a bit of a dark drone ethic, both making a difficult din that sounds like city streets in action at 9:00 AM, coffee in hand, newspaper tucked under arm as you jaywalk past jackhammers. Adding to the effect is the use of political samples and then Al ranting pretty amusing and intelligent anti-Bush words all over the place in his haranguing roar. Guests Jello Biafra and Liz Constantine show up (and George, repeatedly, although against his will), but a real live old coot of a marine is in there too, Sgt. Major, who goes through the clichˇs in a sort of anti-jarhead track called Gangreen. I dunno, taking a track like Palestina, the electroshock treatment on the vocals and drums tends to wear me out, as does the rudimentary punk thrash riff. But I suppose this is all what makes Ministry sort of underground, this idea that it's standoff-ish and opaque. All told though, Al off heroin is a robust music machine, as the man's recent fine output attests hi-test.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 4