Ministry - Relapse
Not too long after an extended hiatus that most felt was the end of Ministry for good, Al Jourgensen has resurrected the industrial juggernaut for one more fix. Relapse is due out at the end of the month (March 2012) and if it isn't easy to see the multiple meanings behind the title, then you're not as familiar with Al and his lifestyle as you perhaps should be. While excitement for the new has caught me relatively recently, I have to admit to being slightly disappointed in this returning venture.
It's safe to say this is an obvious Ministry record, containing within the trademark industrial aggression and tonal brutality expected of the outfit. And, while the last few records have had a direct theme behind them (namely, the Bush Administration and Al's disgust with our nation in general at those specific times), Relapse seems to touch on both politics AND his near-fatal love affair with addictive substances. This shifting focus hurts the album on occasion, but that is a very small complaint. What hurts Relapse more than anything is the varying quality of songwriting from track to track. "Ghouldiggers" is a very tongue-in-cheek look at the blood-sucking business end of the music industry. The theme is very well documented; the song itself is, for lack of a less blunt word, boring. Especially considering the powerhouse that follows it. "Double Tap" is, by far, the heaviest track on the album and is further supplemented with a distinct middle eastern theme that pushes home both the subject matter and the impact overall. "Freefall" isn't too shabby, reminding me of City-era Strapping Young Lad with a solid chorus and dependence on samples (something that ends up bogging the album down heavily later on). "Kleptocracy" sort of meanders about, never really developing into anything other than another in a long line of political tirades Al takes us on. The band chooses to cover S.O.D.'s "United Forces" and adds a bit of a militaristic, boots-on-the-ground feel to it. "99 Percenters" was my and most other's introduction to Relapse back in December and it's still as lackluster as it was then. Lyrically ridiculous, musically standard. This can also describe the next three tracks, especially "Get Up, Get Out n'Vote". I can fully understand Al's message, and while I don't totally agree with it, he leaves himself little room to romanticize certain things, instead taking an overly blunt approach lyrically. It might work for some...
...but not much of this record works for me. I desperately wanted to love every second of it, like I have many past Ministry records, but Relapse feels like a half-hearted collection of songs. Knowing that it was abruptly approached during the Buck Satan sessions might lend some credence to my opinion, but it's really neither here nor there. Ultimately, it would have been prudent for Al to leave Ministry alone, and on the awesome sending-off that Cover Up represented.
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