But Listen: 121: Ministry – Relapse

Back in the 80s, Al Jourgensen was one of the driving forces behind industrial and metal coming together. The three albums released around the end of the 80s and early 90s were all incredible albums for different reasons, but all were most notable for pushing the envelope, and hard. There were scorching, stupidly heavy tracks, there were damned scary moments (hello, Scare Crow), and some utter classic tracks that DJs still play despite being almost impossible to dance to.


Label: Thirteenth Planet
Catalog#: AFM399
Buy from: Thirteenth Planet
Listen on: Spotify


The 90s was a dark, dark period, where Ministry lost their way, Al lost himself to smack, and the albums released in this time were the sound of a heroin nightmare (although, of course, some of their best moments of that three-album period above were clear nods to it, too). The weird thing, was, though, as Al cleaned up, the music gained some of its brutal fury again.

Animositisomina was great, and Dubya in the White House was the primary influence on the last three albums, which spat political fury, and at least once in a while, were damned good. The “final tour” was a fucking joke, though, concentrating on half-assed versions of later period material, before stopping to piss all over a few old classics.

With the benefit of hindsight, the ending of Ministry was a fucking joke, too. Releases haven’t stopped, featuring a couple of remix albums and a live album, all to squeeze that bit more cash out, so another album isn’t exactly a surprise. Quite how poor it is, though, is a surprise.

No, even by Al’s poor quality control standards these days, this is an insult to the Ministry name. Opener Ghouldiggers – nearly eight minutes – begins with a rant against the music industry, with a chorus refrain of “I’m Not Dead Yet“, despite sounding like it was phoned in. Double Tap is the song that was first heard from this, and if this was deemed to be the best…jesus. Much like the druggie’s hard-luck story of Freefall that follows it, it desperately wants to hark back to Ministry’s glory days. Except that these are just Ministry-by-numbers, with no wit, or menace. Which basically just leaves a thrash rhythm and little else.

I’d like to say the album reaches a nadir with the awful, gang-vocal singalong and church organ synths of Kleptocracy, but it actually gets even worse with 99 Percenters, a track that backs the Occupy Movement, apparently. The song is so ham-fisted, and dreadfully done, that I can only imagine the Occupy folks have disowned it. The shitty, lazy politiking continues, too. United Forces is more Government-baiting, and is basically low-rent punk when you strip out the electronics. And crap punk, at that.

The worst thing – yes, worse than the cringeworthy lyrics that litter the album – is that the album is so one-paced. Almost everything is at a hyperblast pace, with no slower tracks to break the pattern, which means that the album gets dull extremely quickly, with your finger itching at the skip button within seconds of the first chorus of each song.

But somehow, I got to the last track, to discover one last horror. Finally, a slower, mid-paced track to break the monotony, but within it, Al tries to croon. There’s a reason why he has bellowed and snarled his way through the past twenty years and more, folks.

Not content with making a good attempt in recent years at trying to kill of Ministry’s legacy in industrial and metal, this album does its best to bury it for good, and turns the band into a laughing stock in the process. Please, Al. Say you’re done with Ministry for good after this current tour, and we’ll all forget this album ever happened? Avoid like the fucking plague.

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