The Ministry of Magic

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Ministry of Magic is a lot of things, but one thing it is not often is dark.  Some of their songs may be about thematically dark things lyrically, but even songs like “The Lightning Struck Tower” and “The Marauders Map” are fueled more by a righteous anger than anything really dark or depressing.  Two songs that break this mold are “A Phoenix Lament” (which is fantastic but I’m not gonna discuss here), and “The Ministry of Magic”, MoM’s one dalliance with portraying their “character” in musical form.  I don’t suggest that they should be doing that all the time, or even need to do it again, but it was nice to have an MoM song about, well, MoM.

[I have a lot of posts like this, a decent introductory paragraph in need of an article. Let’s give it one, shall we?]

One of the things that immediately strikes you about this song is that it doesn’t sound like your usual MoM song, in fact, it sounds more like a Soul Coughing song, specifically Blame. After about seventeen seconds of weird atonal melding of voice snippets and instrument samples, we get into more usual, bright peppy MoM territory, but there’s still something off – usually MoM’s sound in Goodbye Privet Drive was rather “clean”, while the feel of the sound at this point in the song is best described as “overwhelming full” – there’s just this sense of something happening in the background that you can’t quite make out.

This is soon revealed to be one of the many delightful layers of satire used in this song. You know how while MoM at their best is really fucking goddamn good and moving, but at their average, they are musically talented if lyrically kind of, well… vapid? That’s not necessarily a bad thing – there is a definite time and place for songs that are just about wizards wanting to bone other wizards. I can get behind that. But here, they use that connection between their poppy boy-band sound and the genre’s tendency towards dumb lyrics, to increase the blind cheery poppyness a million times over, making it creepy and overbearing.

The boys put all their cheeriness into the vocal delivery, clashing intentionally and beautifully with such lyrics as “this way to registration / don’t mind our interrogation” and “we’re watching you, your every step”. After a couple verses, we get this lovely bridge with swelling midi violins and one of the boys doing an excellent pro-ministry stump speech that would sound great alongside stuff by the likes of Mussolini, Hitler, and Reagan (did I really just compare the Gipper with Hitler? Discuss below!). After this, the shouts of support and clips from the speech are mixed in as the lyrics go from creepy to outright malevolent:

There’s no escape

We’ve locked the doors

You’re never gonna walk again

We then get this absolutely brilliant breakdown, with midi chorus, distorted vocals, spooky voice samples, the works. In short, it’s one of MoM’s best works, on an album absolutely brimming with good ideas and better execution. It also proves the rule that pretty much every time Ministry of Magic goes dark, the results are great – “Phoenix Lament”, “Lightning Struck Tower”, “Marauder’s Map”, “The Curse”, etc.

Welcome to the ministry, indeed.

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