Ministry, live in Sydney

Sydney is subjected to the industrial revolution

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Sydney’s Metro is a sold-out furnace tonight, and by the time Brummie visionaries Godflesh have finished with their peculiarly hypnotic spell of industrial enchantments the walls are already sweating.

Sure, it’s hot outside, but there’s a real sizzle in the air as the minutes tick down to showtime and when Uncle Al does appear, the applause is nearly hysterical. Call him a mad monk, industrial shaman, or heavy metal’s very own Colonel Kurtz, that he’s even standing after his recent health issues seems a feat in itself. The real achievement, though, is that he’s kept his politically-minded outrage on the boil for over 34 years. For the beered-up Friday night congregation tonight promises to be a deliriously heavy trip up the river, and it does not disappoint.

The words that flash up on the big screen read, ‘just lick my motherfucking balls, pearl necklaces for everyone.’ As lyrical world-rankings go, it’s safe to assume Bob Dylan won’t be losing sleep tonight, but that isn’t to say that Al Jourgensen isn’t just as outraged. The man born Alejandro Ramirez effortlessly bellows a language of fury and bemused resignation at the state of world affairs, but it’s his band, a slow-motion howitzer that makes this as jarring as it is spellbinding, drummer Aaron Rossi a slave-driving dynamo that supercharges proceedings and Al’s own gravel-throated rage. From upstairs the crowd moves like a single, throbbing organism, the projected backdrop is a rapid-fire projected montage war, weirdos, and fucking. It’s sensory overload. It’s fucking brilliant.

That said, those leaving early could be tempted into thinking this is a set bereft of classics – sure, LiesLiesLies, Permawar, and Life Is Good among others are gems, but it’s when N.W.O. drops – clips of Ministry’s famous video shot in the very recent aftermath of the 1992 LA Riots flashing behind – that the night feels complete, and when Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell joins in for an utterly rapturous, once-in-a-lifetime rendition of Just One Fix, it all descends into nothing less than air-punching mayhem, but it’s the otherworldly and epic-sounding expanse of Khyber Pass that’s the final verse of this particular sermon. For those lucky enough to be here, it’s one we won’t soon forget.

Gallery: Ministry’s minions of Sydney

Alexander Milas

Alexander Milas is an erstwhile archaeologist, broadcaster, music journalist and award-winning decade-long ex-editor-in-chief of Metal Hammer magazine. In 2017 he founded Twin V, a creative solutions and production company.  In 2019 he launched the World Metal Congress, a celebration of heavy metal’s global impact and an exploration of the issues affecting its community. His other projects include Space Rocks, a festival space exploration in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Heavy Metal Truants, a charity cycle ride which has raised over a million pounds for four children's charities which he co-founded with Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood. He is Eddietor of the official Iron Maiden Fan Club, head of the Heavy Metal Cycling Club, and works closely with Earth Percent, a climate action group. He has a cat named Angus.