Published Jan 01, 2006With the noted exception of Hanzel Und Gretyl, who played the Reverb last year, none of these bands had been through Toronto recently. That said, the crowd was thick, ready and hungry for some heavy music. For those who arrived early enough to catch the openers, heavy was blasted home with a side dish of screaming served up by Hanzel Und Gretyl's fiery vocalist Vas Kallas, who sounds as if she's being simultaneously possessed by the angriest of German industrial rockers and The Exorcist's Reagan. Unfortunately this strong beginning did not set the stage for what was to come. The Thrill Kill Kult's set was easily one of the most disappointing concert experiences of the year. The band was unenthusiastic and vocalist Franke Nardiello is apparently suffering from a severe case of washed-up rock-star-itis, his voice so gravelly from the years of untold abuse and over-indulgence that what was once some of the best sex-sleaze music ever now comes across as skeezy and mildly embarrassing to watch, thankfully the visuals (girls dancing in panties, scenes from classic monster movies) on display behind the band presented the crowd with some much needed distraction. Ministry, the headliners of this decidedly uneven evening, fortunately didn't have years working against them but they did have the room the exposed walls of the Kool Haus only served to amplify their loud, high-energy, grinding, sample-ridden wall-of-noise sound to almost unbearable proportions. The constant reflections and reverberations not only raised the volume but muddied the music dramatically. During a quick survey of the audience, several had their hands placed firmly over their ears. But the show must go on and it did. During the latter portion of their set (and through two encores), Ministry trotted out many mid-'90s fan favourites, including (but not limited to) "N.W.O.," "Just One Fix," "So What," "Thieves" and "Jesus Built My Hotrod." Al Jourgensen, who had appeared dead serious during the performance of their newer material (heavily laden with anti-Bush sentiments), lightened up for the classics. The highlight? During the first encore the entire band re-took the stage garbed in hockey jerseys, which isn't something you see everyday.