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Sphinctour 1996
July 2002
Released: 2002, Sanctuary Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Ah, Ministry. A truly strange band, from its initial inception in the early 80s as a dance hall hit machine to its heyday as an industrial metal machine that unleashed classic albums like THE LAND OF RAPE AND HONEY and PSALM 69, to the more bizarre, somewhat aged band who put out the comparatively ignored FILTH PIG, Ministry has always been an enigma to metalheads. Are they metal or not? Who cares? I don’t. The band to my mind putting out engaging albums that have enough metal facets to fit comfortable alongside more “true” metal bands.

This disc is from the bands tour behind the FILTH PIG album, containing five tracks from that album, five from PSALM 69 and one from ‘89’s THE MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO TASTE. Right off the bat, I can say that this is the kind of live album that I don’t really like, where the band chooses a bunch of tracks from a number of different performances. I much prefer the live albums that use just one full performance as you often get more fluid cuts between songs, better crowd interaction etc.

That being said, SPHINCTOUR is a great disc. All of the expected Ministry classics are here, from “Just One Fix”, to “N.W.O.”, all the way back to “Thieves”. Some nice surprises make appearances, especially the underrated “Hero” from PSALM 69. Naturally, a large chunk of the FILTH PIG album is present, and the band admirably pulls off the bizarre guitar techno of the album, especially shining on “Crumbs”. For a band known for their studio wizardry, Ministry pull off great versions of all the songs presented here, making them sound even heavier than they do in the studio.

If you’re a fan of Ministry, then don’t hesitate to pick this album up, especially since it destroys their previous live album from 1990. If you like Ministry but didn’t like FILTH PIG, this album might change your mind. And if you’ve never gotten into the band, well, SPHINCTOUR probably won’t change your mind, but you’ll be missing out on a great disc.

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