MINISTRY - Relapse CD Review
YEAR : 2012
LABEL : AFM/13th Planet Records
REVIEWED BY: Steve Miller
It's been a while since I've heard a new Ministry album (the last being Rio Grande Blood), and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I forgot about these guys. When I got wind that their new album was coming out, I spent my entire day off cleaning the hell out of my house and catching up on their more recent work. Their evolution from the early 80's as a synth based outfit to, well, what we have now is nothing short of astounding. They have managed to stay on the leading edge of Industrial giving other acts from the same era such as KMFDM and Skinny Puppy a very exceptional run for their money. I hate to choose favourites, even with Skinny Puppy being Canadian, but with each new album, Ministry manage to get heavier, yet include those wicked hook riffs that keeps you completely interested.
Now enough of me gushing about how bad ass Ministry are, I'm sure you already know that each album is like unexpectedly getting nailed with a fire extinguisher to the face (forgive me, I watched Irreversible again, something which I don't advocate). I just want to add one more thing : A lot of people should be stoked about their reunion. Here are some thoughts :
Much like Rio Grande's title track bashing George Wubyah, we open up with "Ghouldiggers", which starts as a fun but serious tongue and cheek criticism of the music industry. After wading through about a minute of a riff reminiscent of the 8 bit music from Terminator 2 for the NES, there's a quick silence... and boom goes the dynamite. Straight up, heavy, pounding, bitchin' riffs to be expected by Ministry. I don't know why I wasn't expecting it, but I found myself quickly scuttling for my sub woofer control on account of things starting to rattle off my desk. We return to our Terminator riff with some more samples on the topic of the band's Management and of course, what would a good intro track be without a brief yet effective solo? This is just the first track and I'm blown away, I can't wait to see what the hell the rest of this album holds. Please call back when you're dead...
Now, I was finding it a little hard this round to review everything as an individual track. Things are pretty standard for a Ministry album, and most of what I said about the straight up, heavy, pounding bad ass riffs apply. Between the tracks "Double Tap", "Freefall" and "Kleptocracy" (which is probably the more... um... poppier [?] track of the album), it's business as usual : Angry, heavy, and message driven.
Since the addition of Tony Campos (who some may remember from Static-X and Soulfly) with the unfortunate passing of Paul Raven, some of the bass riffs seem to be a little more prevalent in the mix. At times it sounds like a weird cross between Exodus and Fear Factory. "United Forces" opens with one of such riffs, and should bring a little smile to our 4 (or 5) string persuasion of musicians' faces.
There's an SOD cover. I won't say what it is (though if you really want you can check out the track list and go "OH, COOL". It is indeed wicked.
I do have to take time a little time to focus on the next track, "99 Percenters", as it's a subject that's pretty close to my heart. I can't say I have the same perspective as a lot of our American friends (mainly because we have a completely different banking system, and haven't been as adversely affected here in Canada), but apparently Ministry are on their side, with a catchy tune to boot. It's a pretty basic song, but that's a good thing for a protest chant. I can't help but think this would have been adopted as a standard protest had it come out at the time the Occupy Movement was still relevant. "How much do people need to have to lie and cheat? But the 99 Percenters will not be beat". Indeed Ministry... indeed. Fight the good fight the way you know how.
The last half of the album again, business as usual. Enjoyable, lovable, and pretty hard to forget. Keep an ear out for "Bloodlust", it's a chunky, grooving tune (and no, I'm not sitting here with a bag of Doritos and a bong).
After a few listens, I found myself going back to 3 tracks : "Ghouldiggers", "99 Percenters", and "Get Up Get Out n' Vote". Easily their 3 strongest points when it comes to heavy riffing, message and ultimately catchy factor. The rest of the album is pretty much solid still, but I have a feeling these will stand out for a lot of people. So, in closing, all I can say is the month and a half long wait may kill some of you, but any fan of Ministry (especially those who still enjoy their later material) will be completely ok after the wait. If anybody has any plans for Wacken Open Air 2012, put these guys on the top of your 'To See' list!
02. Double Tap
05. United Forces
06. 99 Percenters
08. Weekend Warrior
09. Get Up, Get Out, and Vote
11. Relapse (Defibrillator Remix)