Relapse - Ministry
Relapse - Ministry (2012)
13th Planet Records
There are some bands which are famous for refusing to die, calling out that their current tour will be their last and then it’s the curtain call, only to do a farewell tour and never retire at all. We’ve heard it from KISS, The Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith, so it’s a pretty common gimmick. But what about bands who fully call it quits, cease touring, etc., yet reform four years later and release a disc of new material? Well, that’s actually the more common move of bands nowadays, as I suppose it’s more PR-friendly and it gives an album more hype when it’s released. The latest band to pull this trick, it seems, are industrial metal legends Ministry. So with this particular situation, most people would probably have high expectations for Relapse, as this is a comeback album and it’s from a band which did have a pretty consistent discography. Not only that, but the band was reformed because the guitarist Mike Scaccia apparently had riffs too good to not be turned into a Ministry album. So yeah, the bar is really high.
Reporter: So, Mr.Jourgensen, how good is this album and by how much does it top Ministry's classic material, which one would assume is what you have done seeing as you came out of retirement for this record?
Al Jourgensen: Errrrrrhhhhhhhhh...
Now this album is well aware that it’s the output of a resurrected band, and as such has a lot of themes revolving around death in the entertainment industry, business, and government. This gives the album an interestingly aggressive and anti-corporate atmosphere. Although instead of coming from the perspective of a struggling, poor artist, it’s from the view of an artist whose personal life and death are taken advantage of by multiple corporate and label bodies (a concept I’m sure Al Jourgensen and his 3.5 million dollars worth of drugs are quite familiar with). As such, the music found on here is some of the heaviest and most chaotic material Ministry have released in a long time. Sticking to the more thrash-oriented style of their classic albums The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Psalm 69, this album has fast, aggressive, palm-muted riffing that goes perfectly with the inhuman, bombastic industrial drumming, and represents the aggressively anti-corporate stance this record holds. If Relapse’s cybernetic thrashing isn’t machine enough for you, the rest of the album has enough robotic, pummeling drums and monotonously yet melodically repeated clips of sirens or horns from the more electronic side of industrial music to give Relapse that intensely mechanical vibe.
As with classic Ministry material, the album is chock full of speech clips and samples, sourcing from the likes of radio, political speechs, or movie dialogue. The whole beginning of the album goes on about the 27 Club of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and John Morrison, while other songs use dialogue from the Vietnam War (in regard to drug use there), anti-corporate protest samples, or Al Jorgensen’s favourite, the Full Metal Jacket-esque drill sergeant yelling totalitarian propaganda. Al definitely shows his age vocally at times, as there are moments where he gives off a somewhat painful croak (“Git Up Get Out ’n Vote!”) instead of the robotic cheers and commands that we love him for. But this isn’t to say the robotic ringleader isn’t still capable of those mechanical, commanding shouts and barks, and they do fill the album for the most part.
"I repeat you will love Ministry, you got that princess!?"
So in retrospect, was this album worth re-forming over? I suppose. It is certainly better than a lot of the later Ministry material such as The Last Sucker or Houses of the Molé, but it doesn’t really seem like it is strong enough to be a payload, and match the success of classic material like The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, Psalm 69, or Filth Pig. But just because it isn’t as good as the classics doesn’t mean it isn’t a good album, and like I said it is some of the best Ministry material in a long time. So while they still aren’t playing live anymore, I’m glad to see the Ministry machine is at least churning out enjoyable, catchy material that certainly has its place in Ministry’s growing discography. 7.5/10
Best Tracks: Ghouldiggers, Double Tap, Freefall, United Forces, 99 Percenters, Relapse, Bloodlust,
United Forces: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zer5IUrZa2Y