02. Double Tap
05. United Forced
06. 99 Percenters
08. Weekend Warrior
09. Get Up Get Out n’ Vote
11. Relapse Defibrillator Mix
[AFM/13th Planet Records]
Ministry have been around for quite a while now, and have seen some big stylistic changes through their career. They started out as a synthpop/new wave band during the early 1980’s. Their second release took a turn towards dark EBM. It wasn’t until the release of 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey that their found their niche that they continue to play to this day.
To be more specific about the sound Ministry have cultivated over the years, they took the electronic influence from their first two records and made them fornicate with a lot of early thrash and hardcore. There’s a lot of political and drug fueled samples along with industrialized drum beats that back punchy bass and thrashy as all hell guitars. While they have a signature sound, that’s not to say there wasn’t experimentation within it. Filth Pig is pretty much a sludge release, and Dark Side of the Spoon brought in a lot of jazz influence and others became fairly straight forward thrash.
So where does this bring the band after 5 years? Well, Relapse was described as being “brutal,” at least by their standards. So is it? Considering what we’re working with, I’d say so. This is by no means a slam-tastic chugfest, obviously. It is heavy for an industrial metal album, which is where they were coming from. The instrumentation is pretty awesome. There’s a lot of cool in-your-face and no holding back thrash riffs. The difference between this and the older records, is that this is a compromise between their thrash focused albums and their normal industrial albums. It hasn’t lost dropped any of the electronic touch to sacrifice for the heavier riffs. Tracks do differ enough to differentiate, which is always a good trait. “Bloodlust” is a pretty groovy and heavy stoner metal track. “Weekend Warrior” is a literal take on their hardcore roots feeling like a cover of Black Flag song or something similar.
The biggest downfall to this release is something I just praised it for; the inclusion of the electronic elements. To elaborate, I’m happy that they’re here in full force and we aren’t getting a regular ol’ metal album, but a lot of the sampling is awful. It’s not exactly low quality which might be the problem. They don’t add anything to the songs, and generally feel forced. For example, the album begins with a guitar riff is repeated underneath a sample about the state of the music business. It goes on for way too long and I just want the damn music to start. The opening track ends with a mock conversation between Al Jourgensen and his manager’s assistant as he tries to get a hold of him and is denied contact and told to “call back later.” It’s not too distracting but it’s not something I can praise either.
Alongside the samples, some of the vocals get a bit weird. The more harsh vocals are certainly fine, and it’s not to say that the cleaner vocals are bad either. They’re just not really worth being on here. The track “Get Up Get Out n’ Vote” gets real weird when I’m not sure if this is a paid advertisement by the government or not. There’s some cool guitar work here, but the song stood out as the weakest to me. Overall, this album is anything but a Relapse.
Ministry – Relapse gets…