Al Jourgensen is a metal demi-god, with more lives than Keith Richards. From humble New Wave beginnings and fake British accents, to being industrial music’s central hub for all things anti-Bush, the Ministry front man makes Death his bitch and the letter ‘W’ his alliterative slave, while repeatedly dating his audible output without shedding an ounce of edge. Relapse intends to capitalize on these fun facts — what could possibly go wrong?
While a lot can be said about aggressive consistency, Jourgensen and company have, in the era of Obama, required change of their own variety. You’ve got a (possibly sarcastic?) nod to FPS gamers likely to be found in several XBox 360 playlists in the near-future (“Double Tap”), topics currently trending on Google (“99 Percenters”, “Get Up Git Out N’ Vote”), a charming opening monologue about what a soulless, litigious monster the recording industry has become (“Ghouldiggers”), and the typical jabs at big government weaved in for good measure (“Kleptocracy”, “United Forces”).
Everything is fairly open to interpretation, but if an artist spends three-fourths of his or her career establishing a rather hostile identity, there will be bias, and there will be assumptions; matters get exacerbated once one considers how incoherent the vocals on any given Ministry album can be. In the case of obvious cash-grab Relapse, whatever your political affiliation, common knowledge in metal circles is that Jourgensen is both highly respected and creatively stifled, relying on old news and new gimmicks under the cloak of usual gut-punching percussion. 2008’s Cover Up was more socially relevant, even amidst tributes from as far back as Ram Jam’s ’77 interpretation of “Black Betty”.
Ministry will be doing an extremely short touring leg in the States to support Relapse, where I highly suggest you see this band while you can. Because there are always classics to be heard, and frankly, “Double Tap” will probably sound radically better live. As for this sort-of-but-not-quite comeback album, move right along.
Essential Tracks: ”Ghouldiggers”, “Double Tap”