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The madness of Ministry, revisited by someone who knew it well

In Hear ThisA.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, we asked: “Record Store Day is this weekend. What’s your favorite song getting re-issued this weekend or that you’ve discovered through a previous RSD?” 

As a fan of industrial music, it’s incredibly jarring to realize the bespectacled, mild-mannered man hanging around the office of Reckless Records in Chicago is the same guy who howled the vocals for Ministry’s “So What?” from atop a chain-link fence in the band’s In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up concert video. (It was also jarring to see the guitarist of Naked Raygun and Pegboy, John Haggerty, behind the bar at the Rainbo for years.) But he is in fact Chris Connelly, former member of Ministry, Revolting Cocks, and Pigface, and all-star of the industrial scene that revolved around Wax Trax! Records. 

Connelly once told me that he took a dim view of his musical past (a life he explored in his great memoir, Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible + Fried: My Life As A Revolting Cock), but in recent years, he seems to have made peace with it. He’s performed in an Al Jourgensen-less version of the Revolting Cocks, and for Record Store Day a few years ago, he took lead vocals on Ministry’s “Burning Inside” for a cover by Chicago industrial-metal band Plague Bringer. 

It was limited to 100 copies, released on a CD inside a black box along with three buttons. Plague Bringer stuck close to the original’s sound, not that was a bad decision—“Burning Inside” was one of the great tracks from Ministry’s The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, released in 1989, when the band was at the peak of its powers and extracurricular madness. Connelly documented it all in his book, and Plague Bringer took him back to those days, if only for a moment.