Ministry deliver the goods The Gothic Theatre Denver, CO 5-23-15 w/ Laibach & The SixxiS

Ministry deliver the goods The Gothic Theatre Denver, CO 5-23-15 w/ Laibach & The SixxiS

Memorial Day weekend; a time for barbecues, warm weather, and swimming pools, right? Well, Denver, Colorado did not get that memo on Saturday May 23rd. Rain, gloom, doom, clouds, and well, more rain forecast an indoor day reciting “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” right? Not if Ministry’s From Beer to EternaTour had anything to say about it. Band leader Al Jourgensen, drummer Aaron Rossi, bassist Tony Campos, keyboardist John Bechdel, guitarists Cesar Soto and Sin Quirin, rain or shine, were bringing an ear-shattering soundtrack sure to make anyone forgot about a case of cabin fever, or at least get them in the pit to vent the frustration. In support of the band’s thirteenth and final album released in 2013, From Beer to Eternity, the latest string of tour dates kicked off May 3rd in Dallas, Texas and plans to wind down June 19th North of The Border at Amnesia Fest. Joining Ministry on tour are one of Industrial’s most influential acts, Slovenia’s Laibach, along with a very surprising up-and-coming band from Atlanta, Georgia by the name of The SixxiS. Stopping in the Mile-High City on the above mentioned date, fans were equally unfazed by the weather as they sold out The Gothic Theatre eager for the show to start.                  

While Atlanta’s The SixxiS may be touring in support of their debut full-length album, titled Hollow Shrine, they are anything but a freshman act. Consisting of Vladdy Iskhakov (vocals/guitar), Mark Golden (bass), JBake (drums), Paul Sorah (guitar/vocals), and Cameron Allen (guitar/vocals), the band’s Progressive Hard Rock sound catching the attention of one Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold) is not something one achieves overnight, does not matter how nice one looks in a dress. Their distinct blend of riffs, that are sure to get stuck in the listener’s head, and Prog Rock leanings has taken them on the road with the likes of The Winery Dogs, Spock’s Beard, and Wishbone Ash.

Though only a thirty minute set was what the crowd got, it was enough to get them stirring, especially during tracks like “Dreamer,” “Out Alive,” and “Long Ago.” Drenching the room with a textured sound, if this was only a taste of what this band could do, a full set would be highly recommended to anyone who is looking for something new and inspiring. The SixxiS is a band that is delivering a fresh and rather unique sound that everyone should check out.

Many critics and fellow music debaters have tried to desperately categorize Laibach’s style since their inception in 1980. This has been a rather fruitless endeavor as just when the listener thinks they have figured out the formula, the band has changed the total blueprint.  Fact is, it really does not matter what label one gives the band, they always give a creative delivery. Through the band’s history of secrecy, controversy, and non-conventional approaches, they have created music that truly stands alone as art. Sure, club kids remember their track “God is God,” but there is so much more to this band that has released eight studio albums, including their most recent in 2014, Spectre. With the official touring lineup of Milan Fras (vocals), Ivan Novak (lights/projection), Mina Špiler (vocals/synthesizer), Janez Gabrič (drums), Luka Jamnik (synthesizer), and Rok Lopatič (synthesizer), Laibach were ready to take over The Gothic Theater in only a fashion they know how.

Marking a rare return to The States, Laibach was rewarded with a rather bombastic reception from the crowd. Female singer and synth player Mina Spiller’s voice was simply put, impeccable, and truly took the audience on a rather vast and varying trip. Whether it was Spiller’s horrifying screams in “Overture,” or her rather authoritarian tone on “Walk With Me,” there was no holding back. Meanwhile, Fras’ voice was enough to raise goosebumps, giving a stoic, yet captivating, performance. Playing over favorites like “The Whistleblowers,” “Bossanova,” and “Tanz Mit Laibach,” overall their set may be one of the best hidden gems this year. See them before the opportunity passes and they return back to Europe.

What can possibly be stated about Ministry at this point in their career? Jourgensen, by his own admission since getting past his two most hated albums 1983’s With Sympathy and 1986’s Twitch, has been the very definition of uncompromising, unforgiving, and unrelenting. In many ways, it can be argued that he is one of the godfather’s to Industrial, having been one of the founding bands on the legendary Wax Trax Records and helped bring titans like KMFDM and Skinny Puppy into the light. However, his own body of works from past to present serve as cornerstone albums that so many look up to.

While Ministry last visited Denver in 2012 for the DeFIBrillaTouR, this night was by far a different experience for fans. Sadly, 2012 was the last time Denver got to witness Jourgensen’s longtime partner in crime and one of music’s greatest guitarists, Mike Scaccia, as he passed away suddenly at the age of forty-seven. Stepping in however, is no wet behind the ears guitarist, but none other than the aforementioned Soto of Groove Metal band Pissing Razors. This is not the only aspect that was different as The Gothic Theatre was specifically picked to be a more intimate close encounter between the band and the crowd.

As the band seared through a seventeen song set featuring not only the pulverizing tracks “Punch in the Face,” “PermaWar,” and “Perfect Storm,” but delivered a flurry of classics such as “N.W.O.,” “Thieves,” and of course everyone’s favorite piss-off anthem “So What?” Full of fury all set long, Jourgensen and company proved yet again no one does it louder, faster, and leaves their audience with that sore feeling right on their back side. Complemented by eye-popping lighting and visuals on the large screen above Rossi’s drum kit, Ministry had everyone’s attention from start to finish.

While Ministry is reportedly closing the book on writing new material after From Beer to Eternity, there is still plenty of material to indulge from the band’s extensive discography. Their performance at The Gothic Theatre was one for the ages, and the new tracks hit hard live amidst the classics, having everyone enthralled in what Uncle Al had to offer. There are still plenty of shows left on the From Beer to EternaTour, so get out there and see this band before it is too late.

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Rafi Shlosman
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