The latest entry in the pointless race to remake classic horror films is the forthcoming revamp of The Omen. This is a bad idea for obvious reasons, but if any film from that series should be revisited, it's 1981's Omen III: The Final Conflict. In that third installment, spawn of Satan Damien Thorn has grown up and become the CEO of a bloated corporation bent on taking complete control of the Third World's food supplies. He has also miraculously gotten himself appointed as an ambassador to Great Britain and seems determined to secure a more powerful political office so he can spread his Lucifer-loving ways even further. The subversive parallels between that plot and the career trajectory of George W. Bush would make for an instantly appreciative audience (at least in blue states). Furthermore, given the blatant anti-Bush sentiment and blistering aural assault spewing forth from Ministry's latest, Rio Grande Blood, frontman Al Jourgensen would be just the guy to score the film.
The 10th studio album from the industrial-metal pioneer is hardly his first aggressive stab at the Bush family. On 1992's masterwork Psalm 69, the samples of President Bush Sr. repeating his desire for a "new world order" on the song of that same name served as both a satirical indictment and a legitimately paranoid forecast of life under Republican rule. On 2004's Houses of the Molé, Jourgensen took sharp aim at heir apparent Dubya, leaving no doubt about his perspective on the impending second term, going as far as starting each song title with a W ("Wrong," "Waiting," "Worm," and so forth).
This approach continues on Rio Grande Blood, from the manipulating of Bush's voice to declare, "I'm a dangerous, dangerous man. I want to drain the full resources of America. I'm a brutal dictator. I'm an asshole," to the cover art featuring a crucified Bush propped up in an oil barrel and flashing devil horns with his uplifted fists. Subtle? No, but it's undeniably powerful and invigorating for any left-leaning fan of Ministry's buzz-saw guitars, relentless drumbeats, and monstrous overtones. Even more pleasing than the politics is that Rio represents a return to the muscular, antagonistic form forged so brilliantly on Psalm 69, a development due in no small part to the presence of former Prong guitarist Tommy Victor and Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven.
"I got into music in 1977 in England during the whole punk-rock thing, so music and politics have never been separate to me," asserts Raven via cell phone as the band's tour bus pulls up to a gig in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "To be able to get back in the forefront of it with Al and at least wave the flag for the righteous and state that George Bush and his gang are nasty pirates was very attractive."
As old friends, Raven and Jourgensen reconnected when Killing Joke invited the latter to make a guest appearance last year while doing shows in recognition of the band's 25th anniversary—but scheduling conflicts aborted that reunion. Shortly after Raven returned to his Portland home following a recording session in Prague, he received a call from Al asking him to head down to Jourgensen's studio in El Paso, Texas, and help write and record what would become Rio. In addition to being actively involved with the writing process, Raven collaborated with Jourgensen visually. "There's a band in the UK called Crass, and they always had these strong, politically iconic-looking covers," Raven explains. "We wanted to portray some of that same sentiment. Before MTV and videos, your artwork was the main chunk of the medium—other than the music—to communicate with the fans."
That communication will extend dramatically to the live show, as well, on what Ministry has billed the "MasterBaTour." The lineup includes an opening set from Jourgensen's raunchier side project, the Revolting Cocks, and will be augmented with videos sent to the band directly from soldiers stationed in Iraq. "Since [releasing Houses of the Molé], we've been in touch with members of our forces in the Marine Corps, and we trade music for their videos from the war. To be really honest, I sometimes get a bit sickened by that kind of thing, but it just seems very poignant and fitting with where we are as a band."firstname.lastname@example.org