The buildup to Ministry’s “Industrial Strength Tour” was long and ever-shifting. Originally being scheduled for late 2020 with support from KMFDM and Front-Line Assembly, the onset of the pandemic pushed the shows to late 2021 with Helmet replacing KMFDM. These dates also inevitably fell through, and the tour pushed back once again, this time to the spring of 2022. Helmet and Front-Line Assembly were no longer attached to the tour, but the final lineup was one I was just as excited for: Ministry, Melvins and Raleigh’s own Corrosion of Conformity (CoC).
Corrosion of Conformity
The first opening set from Corrosion of Conformity was probably what I was most excited for from this show, and boy did it deliver. The show kicked off with an abridged version of the instrumental “Bottom Feeder” led by bassist Mike Dean to set the tone; monstrously heavy. Following the Sabbath-like appetizer, the band jumped straight into “Paranoid Opioid” a rapid-fire track from 2005’s In the Arms of God. Halfway through the show was my personal highlight, “Vote With a Bullet” from Blind, my personal favorite album from CoC, and a song that single-handedly caused me neck pain for a week from headbanging. The show closed out with their 2 most widely known classic tracks, “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds,” both from 1994’s Deliverance. The latter got an extended jam treatment in the middle of it, including introductions of the band from frontman Pepper James Keenan. In the end, CoC put on an incredibly tight performance that did an amazing job of introducing the audience to the direction the night was heading.
The only band that I had not seen prior to this show was The Melvins, whose 40-year career includes 25 (soon to be 26) studio albums, which the band managed to put together an excellent sampler set of. The trio led by guitarist Buzz Osborne opened the set with “The Kicking Machine,” a bluesy track that almost sounds like it could be on a Cactus record in the ‘70s. The sound very quickly shifted to the sludge metal tone the Melvins are known for however as they moved into material from Bullhead and Stoner Witch, which seriously highlighted the sonic powerhouse that the band is in its current iteration. Buzz’s guitar tone keeps the notes ringing out clearly without sacrificing any grit or gain, Steven McDonald provides a rocking low end with the bass and delivers great backing vocals, and drummer Dale Crover keeps a tight groove with the band alongside his ferocious performance. The set closed out with three classic songs, “Hooch,” “Honey Bucket,” and “The Bit” which the crowd responded to with the start of a sizeable mosh pit in the left wing. Overall, the Melvins put forth a great set with a lot of variety, sounded incredible the whole time, and also demonstrate a serious amount of professional showmanship.
During the setup for the headlining set, a chainlink fence was erected at the front of the stage, matching the industrial edge of the music. Ministry never let the foot off the gas from the time the show started until the end of the 15 song set. After being introduced to the stage in front of a projected display of the Ukrainian flag with a message of support, the band launched into “Breathe” to a blinding light show and pounding drums, with frontman Al Jourgensen belting out the words with as much power and aggression as ever. Little downtime was spent before moving into the set’s 3 songs from 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey, including “The Missing,” which led to a mosh pit spanning the width of the floor and crowdsurfers being sent into the air. About halfway through the set, the focus moved from the earlier Ministry material into songs Al Jourgensen did in other projects, including 2 songs from Pailhead, a project with Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye, which I would not have in a million years expected to hear live. Standouts from the latter half of the show were an intense experience in the mosh pit for “Just One Fix” and the deafening yelling of the words to “Thieves” from the crowd. The encore saw the fence come down as 2 songs from last year’s Moral Hygiene were performed, which really sounded so much better live than they do on the album. Ministry closed out with an incredible cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” in a very intimate fashion that felt like a spot-on way to end the show.
At the end of the night, I was nearly deaf and absolutely exhausted from an amazing show. I’m glad the tour finally got to be seen through, and that the Raleigh date was added after initially not being on the tour. If you’ve not seen any of these bands in person, I would highly recommend doing so, they all deliver such strong and dedicated performances that it’s worth every penny.
– Ezra Kinsch