No one can doubt that in the mid-90's, anyone into industrial music knew of and was even very absorbed with Ministry's sound. As they closed out the 1990's, the band seemed to drag out their albums, and fans tended to shy away in fear of not getting the same excitement as before.
1990's "In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing up" Ministry live video left us waiting for more. This "Sphinctour" live package sees them at their fanbase high playing larger clubs to festival crowds up to 40 000 present.
A simple menu of track listing, still graphics, credits and audio setup help guide the viewer to what they need. You will get bored of the sound byte used for the main menu as with any DVD these days. It ships in Dolby 5.1 Surround and Dolby 2.0 Stereo as a fallback on the single disc. The sound quality as you expect is quite excellent. It's from two track DAT audio source, direct from the soundboard mixed live. No post-production mixing is involved in this package. How this is translated to a 5.1 sound properly is beyond me.
Early in, touring stage manager Paula Wood is shown escorting frontman Al Jourgensen in full headgear to the stage area at an open air gig. Once we get to the show, you realise what many fans haven't seen lately. Back and side-stage guerrilla cameras shots abound with Jourgensen's snarling vocals as his band plays furiously for the appreciative crowds. No guest artists, just the touring band are present.
Filmed in 1996, it's quite good quality hi-8 video content as it holds up well on DVD today. Not many typical rock show gimmick angles add to the feel of the live Ministry show. Most of the content is of the band but there are segments especially on the North American dates which focus on the crowd as well. The performance is seamless although the viewer knows it's filmed in multiple locations. The disc casing lists the venues used but this is likely only the audio content. It's all filmed using a single camera at all 60 shows in 11 countries. Each video track segment is intermixed with other venue's live sets. The US/Canada dates have added backing film graphics while the Euro dates emphasise just the lightshow, the band and costumes of Jourgensen.
The sound of "Just One Fix" from their former homebase of Chicago, is much beefier than the rest of the collection.
Included is "The Fall", a track that first appears on "Filth Pig" (1996). Originally an 88/89 Al Jourgensen/Nivek Ogre studio track called "Noreen", from a collaboration they were considering (the defunct project W.E.L.T.). All other tracks are Ministry originals. A collection of their newer slower drone type songs drags but is brought to life by the Chicago Trax-era toxins of "Theives" and "Stigmata" closer to the end. Some backstage antics happen before their encore as we are treated to some dialogue by dictator Al.
I must comment that the actual DVD disc artwork is substandard as it looks as though there's been a mistake in packaging. It is in fact an actual stage pass graphic but does not work well in my opinion. No added liner notes are to be found. All credits are on disc and at the band's web site. The "stage show" itself leaves something to be desired at points but then again this is a performance art called industrial music. Paul Barker (guitar, bass & programming) comments that it was more like a "train wreck."
Once you see this live concert collection you will realise what is missing from today's music scene. Add to your Ministry DVD collection alongside "Tapes of Wrath" (2000) from former Ministry label Warner Bros.