Ministry has been on an opening-act hot streak lately. In 2017, the industrial pioneers toured with hip-hop rabble-rousers Death Grips, while for its March 24 Vegas show, the band has enlisted bewitching dark-rock artist Chelsea Wolfe to open. Here are five reasons that pairing makes perfect sense.
1. Both artists relish blurring genre lines. Ministry has a well-documented knack for deconstructing electronic, rock and metal sounds, then reassembling them into new, punishing compositions. Chelsea Wolfe, meanwhile, defies sonic categorization. She combines doom-drenched folk-metal, sludgy drone-rock infected with distortion and fuzzy stoner howls cut through with pulsating electronic elements.
2. Their latest albums redefine “heavy.” Ministry’s new AmeriKKKant, is full of bracing political invective cloaked in diverse shades of aggression: barking thrash metal, sample-heavy electronic pastiches and piledriving hard-rock churns. Chelsea Wolfe’s latest, September’s Hiss Spun, is more inward-looking, but no less unsettled—perhaps because her approach is rooted in nuance, from growling death metal roars (“Vex”) to haunted house-creepy cinematic interludes (“Strain”).
3. Each artist thrives on collaboration. Wolfe and Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen both surround themselves with ace collaborators. Wolfe’s Hiss Spun features Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen and was produced by Kurt Ballou, whom she met after performing and singing with his band, Converge, in Europe. Jourgensen has always juggled a bevy of side projects (RevCo, Surgical Meth Machine, 1000 Homo DJs) and production work. And he has weathered a bevy of dramatic Ministry lineup shifts, which have occurred due to disagreements, health issues and, sadly, death.
4. Both have received pop-culture boosts. Wolfe’s music has been used to promote Game of Thrones, How to Get Away With Murder and Fear the Walking Dead, while her song “Carrion Flowers” recently appeared in a Jaguar ad. Ministry’s pop-culture footprint isn’t quite as high-profile these days, even if Jourgensen’s 2013 memoir Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen did make a stir. Still, 2008’s “The Great Satan” landed in Rock Band 2, Ministry videos appeared regularly on Beavis & Butt-Head and the band itself had a small part in Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
5. Both artists disavow an early album. In 1983, Ministry released its major label debut, With Sympathy. Although the well-crafted LP contains dark synth-pop with a danceable funk edge, Jourgensen has been notoriously hostile toward it. (Though he may be warming to it: In 2014, he shared a With Sympathy outtake himself.) Wolfe recorded a full-length called Mistake in Parting in 2006 that she regrets making. “I was 21 years old and wrote a sh*tty singer-songwriter breakup album,” she told Prefix in 2012, calling it an “over-produced, terrible record.” Don’t expect to hear songs from it Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl.
MINISTRY with Chelsea Wolfe, The God Bombs. March 24, 7 p.m., $35-$40. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.