Al Jourgensen has rarely made it easy on his fans. His band Ministry's most popular album, 1992's Psalm 69, was delayed for ages, ultimately delivering a mere six songs that hadn't already been released. He's got a sharp, well-publicized sense of humor, but in recent years, you've had to sift through acres of plodding angst to get to it. And while he's one of the great innovators in heavy music, Jourgensen has more or less been on auto-pilot since Psalm 69. Unfortunately, that doesn't change on Dark Side Of The Spoon, which hints at new tricks but ultimately arrives at the same buzzsaw-by-numbers retreads through which Jourgensen and partner Paul Barker have been sleepwalking for ages. "Bad Blood" is depressingly rote—you'll swear you've heard it before—while "Kaif" settles for the sort of plodding dirgemanship best left to Ministry's countless inferior imitators. The closest thing to fun here, besides the ugly album art and the fact that the album has (gasp!) 69 tracks, is Jourgensen's Glenn Danzig impression throughout "Whip And Chain": It's a lot (unintentionally?) funnier than the dopey, drug-themed ranting of "Step," the most outwardly lighthearted track here. "Nursing Home" is Dark Side Of The Spoon's most adventurous moment, blending in banjo and horn parts, but, like too much of the album, it never really gels into a song. Ministry has made some of the past decade-and-a-half's most memorable hard music, but Dark Side Of The Spoon sounds empty, disposable, and yesterday.