by Rev. Walter Beck
Ministry Relapse (13th Planet Records)
By Rev. Walter Beck
Al Jourgensen swore up and down that Ministry was finished after the release of 2007’s The Last Sucker. Since the release of that album, there’s been a slew of remix albums, cover albums and greatest hits compilation. But Al still said that Ministry wouldn’t release any new studio albums or tour again. Until the release of the new album Relapse.
The first thing Ministry fans will notice about this LP is that it doesn’t talk about Bush nor is it strictly political. That doesn’t mean there aren’t political themes in it; cuts like “Double Tap”, “99 Percenters”, “Kleptocracy” and “Git Up Get Out ‘N Vote” remind us that Uncle Al is still angry at the system. He may have made it through the Bush years, but he still sees the lies and corruption in American politics and he’s not afraid to use his mic as a weapon against them.
Outside of politics, Al’s venom is directed at the music industry and the corruption he sees there. For many years, Al has been a vehemently independent musician, establishing his own label and personally overseeing every aspect of his musical career. His venom and independence are spit through industrial grit in tracks like “Ghouldiggers”, “Relapse” and “Weekend Warrior”.
The music is another thing that will delight long-time Ministry fans, for the last ten years or so, ever since the release of Animositisomina, the band has been going in more thrash metal direction rather than the industrial sound that made them famous. Relapse is a surprising return to form for Ministry, mixing in raw speed with liberal doses of samples, sound effects and distortion. Musically, this LP sounds like a beefed-up updated version of their 1992 classic Psalm 69.
I was honestly surprised at this album, I was looking forward to it, being a long-time Ministry fan, but after the anti-Bush trilogy of Houses of the Molé, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker, plus the slew of remix albums that followed, I thought the band was at its end. Al had dedicated himself to his record label and side projects, particularly Revolting Cocks, and Ministry was over.
But this album shows that the band is back in full force, Bush is gone, Al has new targets, his sound is heavier and meaner than it has been in years, shifting back to an industrial sound. If you’re a long-time fan of Ministry, this album is a refreshing listen and if you’re just discovering Ministry, this is a worthwhile LP to have.