30 seconds of a curious ticking noise, followed by a shriek so extremely distorted and chaotic as to destroy speakers at high volume. Such is the beginning of Ministry’s “Land of Rape and Honey”. It’s funny imagining what fans of the synth pop and subdued electro records “With Sympathy” and “Twitch” faces looked like when they pushed play for the first time. Whatever the reason, this album marks the abrupt transition into the Ministry we know and love today.
“The Land of Rape and Honey” is violent, about as violent as any album can be. One gets the impression that the walls of endlessly looping distorted drum machines and screams contained herein were really more meant to beat the listener senseless than hypnotize into some sort of trance like the heroin induced ramblings of later albums.
This album makes it on attitude alone. There is little to no melody or musicality in any of these tracks. Some of the rhythms can even be classified as inane, such as the simple alternate snare and bass throughout the whole of “The Missing”. Guitar work is redundant and simple.
Al’s vocals follow little structure, one scream after another, occasionally avoiding even rhythm (“Stigmata”), but they get the point across- anger. A hell of a lot of it.
“Stigmata” (10/10) An industrial classic if there ever was one. Grinding synth sounds combined with a 2 chord main riff, then alternated with totally insane verses (“Choke on glass”). The chant “You have empty eyes” is both the finale and the highlight.
“The Missing” (9/10) A metal oriented tune with great riffs and some fantastic harmonizing leads in the chorus. Very epic and very fast. Short and sweet. The drum parts are lacking in groove and complexity.
“Deity” (10/10) Thrashy and melodic, an absolute anthem and one of the best tracks Ministry has ever produced. Metallic, but not in the same way as “The Mind” or “Psalm”. Unique in the catelogue.
“Golden Dawn” (10/10) Groovey bass driven instrumental with some background guitar harmonics and lots of good sample splicing. This album marks Al’s best use of spliced samples for rhythmic effect. “You have been found guilty of covenants with the devil”, “Confess, confess!”.
“Destruction” (7/10) Another instrumental with a simple, loping rhythm that loops throughout. Overlaid are far away sounding distorted chants of “DESTRUCTION!”, scrapes and feedback. Harsh and powerful, but there isn’t much at all going on.
“Hizbollah” (10/10) The middle eastern title fits well with this track. A more developed primal, tribal sort of rhythm with some heavy, menacing synth work and samples of something being said in Arabic. A heavy, melodic instrumental.
“The Land of Rape and Honey” (9/10) Militant and march like, 16th note harsh synths over heavy drum tracks. Al’s screaming vocals re-enter the album here, “Face to face, blood to blood”. The sampling going on here is subtle genious, increasing the mood of the song substantially. Hiss noises provide still more atmosphere. Doesn’t really progress during the duration, it’s verse after verse. “In the land of rape and honey, you PRAY.”
“You Know What You Are” (10/10) Similar to the title track in rhythm and overall sound, the harsh, angry vocals and samples (of maniacal laughing) push this one to a higher level. The voice is so drenched in distortions that you can barely make out the words.
“I Prefer” (6/10) Frantic and fast paced synth and some cleaner monotone vocals chanting. Very little going on musically, and very short. Not at all a memorable song.
“Flashback” (10/10) Quite possibly the most absolutely furious song I’ve ever heard, distorted blasting percussion and spliced sampling loops relentlessly for 4 minutes over which Al spews line after line of tortures and humiliations he’s going to inflict on a certain individual, punctuated by a ‘chorus’ of “I HATE HER” (and sometimes ‘him’). “I’m gonna make you suffer, and WATCH YOU DIE!” Insanity that it’s hard to overstate.
“Abortive” (7.5/10) A quiet and very out of place instrumental with some interesting bass and rhythm tracks. A sort of atmospheric chillout song.
While it isn’t totally consistent, “Land of Rape and Honey” is one of the angriest albums ever recorded and very influential besides. Recommended.