Ministry's experimentation, stylistic variation and changes during its career cross several genres of popular music. Alternative rock subgenres such as industrial rock and industrial metal are umbrella terms predominately used to describe the band's career in general.[c] Ministry has been classified under many other genres, including EBM/industrial dance, techno-rock, hard rock, heavy metal, speed metal, thrash metal, and electro-industrial; their early output has been categorised as new wave, synth-pop, dance pop, electronic dance, and dark wave. In the April 1989 issue of Spin Magazine, an author Michael Corcoran labelled the band as "industrial disco;" in 1994, writer Simon Glickman used this term as well. AllMusic's Steve Huey states that, previous to Nine Inch Nails' rose to mainstream popularity, "Ministry did more than any other band to popularize industrial dance music, injecting large doses of punky, over-the-top aggression and roaring heavy metal guitar riffs that helped their music find favor with metal and alternative audiences outside of industrial's cult fan base." Despite frequent descriptions of the band's music as industrial, Jourgensen disputed the use of this tag in several publications since the early 1990s, preferring instead to identify his style as "aggro", and, much later "industrious".
Despite Jourgensen's dislike of touring, Ministry are noted for their live performances, featuring extended versions of songs (as evidenced on In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up) and disturbing visual imagery. MTV also recognized the band as an influential heavy metal act, highlighting the use of sampling during their heyday.