Pros: The "Supernaut" cover is indispensable; really aggressive sounds on several tracks
Cons: The harshness and subject matter of, and language in, this release might limit its audience
Industrial group Ministry may hold the record for being associated with the most amount of side project material out there. The band's founder Al Jourgensen has been involved with numerous one-off bands and records, including collaborations with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys among others.
1988 found Jourgensen forming an all-star line-up of industrial musicians for a project named 1000 Homo DJs that was initially started as a way to release outtake tracks from Ministry. The band (made up of Jourgensen, Biafra, William Rieflin, and several others under pseudonyms) made their debut with the 12 inch single Apathy in 1988. 1990's Supernaut EP was a combination of the contents of the 12 inch along with two new tracks, including a blistering cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut." While the Supernaut EP is somewhat short and contains only four tracks, each track is fairly lengthy and the disc has some great moments.
The cover of "Supernaut" starts off the album and probably is among my favorite cover songs. With furious waves of guitar and bass sound, pummelling drums and reverb-heavy vocals (on the original version of the song, the vocals were performed by Trent Reznor, whose participation on the album was later removed and replaced due to a dispute with Reznor's record label), the song is a definite barn-burner starting off with a nifty (and fairly amusing) quote from Dr. Timothy Leary about the relationship between the record industry and drug use. The song features several searing guitar solos, and a neatly constructed build-up section to reach the 4:20 mark (ha!) in the song. In all honesty, this track alone might make this EP worth a listen; it's fantastically loud and heavy.
Second on the EP is "Hey Ass_hole" which seems like it would make an appropriate soundtrack to Nick Zedd's Police State short film. Over a noisy and gnarly industrial beat and electronic backdrop, a chorus of voices repeats the title of the track while a sort of skit about a police officer harassing a young punk is heard. The skit is aggressive, with the officer (Biafra?) throwing out insulting and abusive behavior by the ton, and there are some great (if blatantly offensive) clips: the line "he's a sissy, he's a f*ggot...he drives a Dodge" cracks me up.
The EP's final two tracks are vintage Ministry; recorded much less clearly and containing more destructive sonic elements. "Apathy" has another heavy, industrial beat established by pounding drums and machinery sounds, with a heavily distorted bass and guitar kicking in. The vocals here are quite obviously Jourgensen's whiny vocals, made even more tinny through effects. This track is pretty repetitive, but at one point throws a free jazz saxophone into the mix. The disc concludes with "Better Ways," a punishing track that has distorted synths operating under an almost unrecognizable vocal track. Also quite repetitive, it's easily the most downright harsh track on the disc.
Supernaut would probably be most appealing to fans of Ministry, as that band's sound is pretty apparent here, with the final two tracks especially sounding like the Ministry outtakes that they are. This release also would probably be of interest to fans of Nine Inch Nails, as it was an early project that Reznor was attached to and his involvement in the project is somewhat legendary among NiN fans. The "Supernaut" cover is pretty amazing, and probably would be among my favorite hard rock jams, and although the remaining tracks on the disc aren't quite as memorable, they are downbeat, noisy and nasty (as industrial music generally is). While the overall EP is somewhat brief and (aside from the cover song) somewhat unremarkable, I think this EP has substantial hard rock energy behind it, and it would be a worthwhile listen for the aforementioned audience.
An entry in the Lean-n-Mean Write-Off.