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ministry relapse
Artist: Ministry
Title: Relapse
Genre: Industrial Metal
Release Date: 23rd March 2012
Label: 13th Planet

Album Review

It’s hard to believe it’s 20 years since MINISTRY broke through to claim a position at the forefront of industrial metal with ‘Psalm 69’. Achieving MTV airplay and a huge audience, many have complained that it’s been all downhill from there, while seemingly forgetting - or being blissfully unaware - of the band’s tame electro-pop origins and the evolution that brought them to that commercial pinnacle. But since when was a band like Ministry about winning friends or pandering to popular demand? Since when did a man like Al Jourgensen give a crap about anything other than making the next album bigger, heavier and more vitriolic than its predecessor?

So while ‘Filth Pig’ might have lacked the punch of ‘Psalm 69’ and lost the band a lot of fans, it stands as a hugely underrated document of monochromatic nihilism, the iffy cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’ notwithstanding. Anyway, a lot’s happened since then. The presence of George W Bush in the Whitehouse kept Jourgensen in material for the best part of a decade, unleashing a tireless stream of venom through a succession of ire-filled albums, but in 2008, he declared the work of MINISTRY was done - until now. Precisely what prompted Al to resurrect the moniker he’d retired only a few years previous and insisted would never be revisit isn’t entirely clear, but the fittingly-titled ‘Relapse’ sees the MINISTRY machine pick up where it left off. It’s not the sound that made them huge, but follows the trajectory they’ve followed since 2003’s ‘Animositisominia’, dominated by harsh, treble-orientated guitar and drum sounds delivered with a relentless fury and at a frenetic pace.

There’s a lengthy spoken preamble on opening track ‘Ghouldiggers’ as the music slowly builds and then... BAMM! ‘I’m not dead yet!’ Al hollers by way of a refrain. He may have been technically - medically - dead on no fewer than three occasions, but Al’s a survivor and listening to the opening gambits of ‘Relapse’ it sounds like he’s determined to make up for the lost time in between albums. He may be happy to be back and pleased to be alive, but he’s still far from happy, and it’s abundantly clear that as long as he’s got the air in his lungs, he’s going to rail against whatever there is going - but mostly corruption and greed and stupidity and apathy. Far from the nihilism one might expect, ‘Relapse’ is a call to arms and a call to action, with Jourgensen voicing his support for the Occupy movement (‘99 Percenters’) and imploring listeners to vote for change (Git Up, Get Out ‘N Vote’).

From the speed-metal thrashing of ‘Double Tap’, to the sample-heavy speed-metal-thrashing of ‘Freefall’ (reminiscent in many ways of ‘Just One Fix’ and ‘Reload’), via the speed-metal thrashing of ‘United Forces’, there’s not much let-up across the eleven tracks on ‘Relapse’ before the chugging closer ‘Bloodlust’. There might not be any real standout tracks, either but cumulatively, the effect is akin to being repeatedly around the cranium with a big hunk of concrete - repeatedly and rapidly. It’s by no means MINISTRY’s finest moment, but it’s certainly not lacking in firepower. When so much contemporary metal is preoccupied with posturing and preening, MINISTRY’s straight ahead, no messing approach continues to set them apart, making ‘Relapse’ a welcome return.


01. Ghouldiggers
02. Double Tap
03. FreeFall
04. Kleptocracy
05. United Forces
06. 99 Percenters
07. Relapse
08. Weekend Warrior
09. Git Up Get Out 'n Vote
10. Bloodlust


Al Jourgensen – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Mike Scaccia – guitars
Tommy Victor – guitars
Tony Campos – bass


Cover Picture

ministry relapse


Music: 6
Sound: 6
Total: 6 / 10

Buy the album here!

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