It's been nearly four years since MINISTRY performed what were then touted as their ''final'' live shows. Always a skeptic when it comes to bands calling it a day, I was one of those with the mindset of ''they'll be back,'' and while I was disappointed to have missed their three-night run here in Chicago, it's 2012 and the opportunity has presented itself once more. Indeed, Al Jourgensen is back with a familiar band of ''experienced wingmen'' for what is undoubtedly one of the best MINISTRY offerings to come along in quite some time.
As a big fan of Vampires and Werewolves, I've long held the UNDERWORLD films as franchise that serves as a hearty slap in the face to fans of both. In fact, I hated the first one so much, that it partially inspired me to write DEATH WALKS THE STREETS in 2004. From all angles, I thought that both UNDERWORLD and it's sequel, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION, were poorly-directed by Len Wiseman and poorly conceived by writer Kevin Grevioux. I even hated the icy ''blue'' look of the films. By the time 2009's UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS came around, I'd already tuned out. Now, with the 2012 UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, the franchise is back on my radar - but only for the one thing I'd actually like about it: The Soundtracks.
Bursting with both familiarity and freshness, WE DON'T KNOW ANY BETTER (out Jan. 14) marks the second full-length offering from Brooklyn quartet BLACK TAXI. There's a solid rock band at the core, but the multi-faceted instrumentation - executed with perfection - is where the band excels, pushing well beyond the stage and out onto the dancefloor.
When CONAN O'BRIEN got shafted by Jay Leno and NBC over his hosting duties for THE TONIGHT SHOW, he found himself at the end of a 22-year career with the network - and unable to appear on television per the terms of his exit. Rather than sit back and do nothing, O'Brien packed up and took his show on the road with the ''Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour.'' With a familiar band alongside him, O'Brien used the tour as an opportunity to sharpen up and put on display his impressive guitar chops that in the past had only been hinted at during his time at NBC.
There's a power to RAMMSTEIN that one finds irresistible, yet hard to explain. On the Global stage, they're one of the undisputed leaders of metallic sound delivery, while in the U.S. they rank as one of the few crossover artists to sing predominantly in a foreign tongue, yet maintain the audiences needed to sell-out arenas in a matter of minutes. It's easy for a band like METALLICA to sell out venues across Europe while singing in English, but the hospitality toward equally exotic sonic imports here in the 'States is a hard commodity to find. Unless, you're RAMMSTEIN.