The Land of Rape and Honey

Band: Ministry
Album: The Land of Rape and Honey
Best song: The title track is epic. “Stigmata” is pretty brutal (in a good way).
Worst song: The whole album is worthwhile.

As I write this, I’m 30 years. I’m of the philosophy that there’s no time like the present; I think the Internet is our species’ greatest invention. I’m lucky in that I grew up in the suburbs of the third-largest city in the U.S., so the world wasn’t an exciting thing to me as I grew up. Chicago is very diverse and my parents exposed me to a lot of cultural experiences.

Like so many people of my age, upbrinding (indie rock, Midwest, affluent, etc.) and general bent, I spent a lot of my time at record stores. The Internet hadn’t become the thing it is now. Similarly, my parents weren’t, like, the people from Yo La Tengo or something. They were regular, mainstream people back when “regular” and “mainstream” were words people actually used.

Which is to say that a lot of cool shit was going on, essentially, in my backyard when I was a little kid.

The decade of the 1980s is known for a lot of things cultural, but all I knew was Muppet Babies, sports and the Beatles. Such is the life of a child. Nevertheless, Chicago — nay, New Trier Township — gave birth to a band I later fell in love with and worshipped.

The Land of Rape and Honey is the slogan of a town in Canada, referencing the rapeseed production there. It is also the third record from industrial rock’s titans, Ministry.

Ministry is industrial in the same way that Einstürzende Neubauten is industrial. These bands don’t have the pop stylings of Trent Reznor or KMFDM. Ministry records have the song of metal clanging and people screaming on it. Ministry’s music is the sonic equivalent of an early Marc Caro film.

Al Jourgensen spent some time at New Trier High School, my alma mater. He graduated far before I did; Ministry and I share a birth year. But, Jourgensen’s music — and the subsequent copiers/builders like Reznor — has the desperation of suburbia. Angst rules the record. “Stigmata” is antagonistic toward, well, everything and the title track has the driving rhytymn that echoes the machinery and factory sounds of, well, industry. “Flashback” utilizes one of Jourgensen’s trademarks: grizzly audio samples building on the theme of the song (in this case, the movie Platoon and the war theme).

Look, I was seven when this album was released. I knew little of it as a kid because I wasn’t exposed to Ministry until the band played Lollapalooza in the early 1990s (and it’s not like we had a plaque somewhere in the NTHS halls that said “Al Jourgensen studied here”). But, nevertheless, the record is a brilliant group of songs.

It’s fucked up to think about that sort of thing. My high school was the place in which so many famous people spawned. But, it’s easy to recognize the Trevians-ness in so many of the famed Trevs. Rahm Emmanuel has the drive and competitiveness that our teachers warned us about. Don Rumsfeld is pompous and rhetorical, with the air of a snobby kid that never had to actually put any effort into anything. Liz Phair has the same angst that Jourgensen shows on this record.

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