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Ministry: Relapse

13/04/12  ||  Smalley

Having a relapse is never a good thing, especially if you’re Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen, who’s had a lifetime struggle with drug addiction; hell, he lost a toe due to a broken needle tip in it, and almost fucken lost an arm after he got bit by a spider, after falling asleep on some H dealers’ couch. Think I would’ve quit the junk after the toe. But despite of (or maybe because of, partly?) his addictions, Al’s still managed to record some nice stuff in the past; hell, the drugs are where he got the inspiration to those awesome lyrics for Burning inside. But the dude’s supposedly clean now, which I’m all for, being such a straight-edger. Unfortunately, Uncle Al is still addicted to something, a thing that he had supposedly gotten off before, and that thing is making music with Ministry, past the time when they were relevant.

Time for a history lesson: after forming Ministry in 1981, and recording two albums no one really cared about (though “Twitch” is kind of kewl), Al started dabbling in industrial metal in ’88 with the revolutionary “The land of rape and honey”, and while that and the three albums following aren’t all on the same level per se, they’re at least worthy of an 8, ‘specially “The mind is…”. But after the divisive (but still good) “Filth pig” in ’96, it seems like the drugs finally caught up to Al, and he started doing shit records that again, no one really cared about. Ministry then got a lil’ bit of renewed attention with the Bush trilogy of albums, but that was due less to its tacky, mostly-mindless music actually being good, but because it was replete with altered samples of Dubya and other members of the Bush II administration.

Hey, here’s an idea; how about you guys record an album of solid music like you used to, instead of relying on attacks on a Prez that’s going to be gone in a few years anyway, making these albums quickly irrelevant? I mean, I know you attacked George H.W. on one of your most iconic singles (“N.W.O.”), but that was only on one song, not three entire fucken albums!!! Just a thought. Fortunately, Ministry did finally limp to a halt 4 years ago, but I guess all the side-projects got old for Al, and like an addict crawling back to the needle, begging for “just one fix”, he has now come crawling back to Ministry; never trust a junkie, remember Al? Especially when the junkie is you.

Anyway, at least Dubya is gone now, so Al can’t just coast off of Bush hate (teehee), but “Relapse” still mires itself in trendy, 15-minutes-of-fame issues that hardly anyone will care about (or even remember, probably) in 5 years’ time; it opens with “Ghouldiggers”, which has Al dully whining like a geezer for forever about the music business exploiting dead musicians for profit (complete with trendy Amy Winehouse name-dropping), against a backdrop of repetitive lead guitar-weedling; hey Al, I didn’t press “play” to hear your obvious rants about the music biz. WHERE IS THE FUCKEN MUSIC. Mercifully, the song finally starts doing something after two long minutes, and even though it’s pretty much just dull, wannabe thrashing with a neutered, lifeless guitar sound and some tedious shouting, at least it’s still better than that fucken intro, ugh. I guess mediocrity is better than being painful. There are few little sections that I liked, but it just isn’t enough to make “Ghouldiggers” anything but an average opener. And, as I’m sure you all know by now, the opener sets the pace for the rest of the album, so things are not boding well for “Relapse” at this point at all.

Fortunately for us, follow-up “Double tap” is one of the few bright spots on the album, with truly aggressive, groovy thrashing, some cool Oriental-ish touches in its sound, and a killer, crushing outro. Still not great, but at least it’s enjoyable, especially right next to what came before, and “Freefall”, while not quite as good, is still satisfying in its strong sense of urgency and desperation. Sadly, after that nice one-two combo, “Relapse” goes right back to slumming with its songwriting; “Kleptocracy” drags and drones, with a particularly lifeless, tone-deaf chorus, and despite a few cool parts, “United forces” pretty much does the same thing, with some particularly gratuitous, sloppy soloing. It even recycles that cool “crowd yell” chant from “N.W.O.”!!! Bad form, Al.

“99 percenters” is a mindless attempt at hopping onboard the Occupy Movement bandwagon before it grows cold, and the title track is just astonishingly fucken dull. “Weekend warrior” isn’t any different, except for the addition of an incredibly moronic “surfer dude” doing spoken-word-ish material during the verses. No. Thank. You. Thankfully, the album doesn’t sink to that kind of low again after that point, but still, nothing else here is really worth pointing out. “Relapse” isn’t really a bad album overall, mostly due to a couple o’ good tracks brightening it up (though some parts are pretty bad), but considering what Al was capable of in the golden age of Ministry, there is just absolutely no need for this project to drag on any longer. Time for an intervention; just fucken put down the Ministry-needle already Al, you (and we) just don’t need it anymore.

5,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: 13th Planet
  • Website: www.thirteenthplanet.com
  • Band
  • Al Jourgensen: vocals, guitars, programming, keyboards
  • Mike Scaccia: guitars
  • Tommy Victor: guitars
  • Tony Campos: bass
  • Casey Orr: bass
  • Tracklist
  • 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