The industrial godfathers have returned after their 2008 breakup and has graced us with a new album. The album is full of in-your-face heavy beats that the band is known for and songs filled with political commentary. While it doesn’t really doesn’t sound all that different from some of their later albums, it still manages to rock and if anything shows that the band hasn’t lost their edge.
Relapse opens with the energetic, hate filled “Ghouldiggers.” The song is a bit confusing at first since it begins with a rant from Jourgensen talking about how evil the music industry is and how they only see artist as profitable if they are dead while listing off members of the 27 club. It’s not until two minutes in does the song actually start. From there it launches into heavy and harsh guitars and booming drums that get you headbanging while Jourgensen screams “I’m not dead yet!” The song is actually a great start to the album, but the music industry is evil message gets laid on a bit too thick, especially considering that the message is echoed in a faux phone call that appears in the middle of the song. Maybe it wouldn’t feel this way if the rant wasn’t at the beginning basically explaining the premise of the song. I think the listeners are smart enough to understand the message on their own.
The next track “Double Tap” is a chaos of speeding guitar solos and violent drumming with the occasional sitar coming in to add some Eastern flavor. This song speeds into the next track “Freefall,” which tackles drug abuse. It begins with weird, backwards playing music that sounds like a circus theme with Jourgensen advertising a new drug that’s a mix of crack and coke. It kind of catches you off guard and doesn’t seem to fit at first, but when you pay attention to it, it actually sounds like he’s a ring leader and it works pretty well. Then the song explodes into more heavy and violent guitar and drum playing. The beats in this song along with the plea of “Help!” makes this sounds like a classic Ministry track. This is probably the best song on the album.
All the songs on the album are pretty good with some standout tracks being “United Forces” and “Bloodlust.” What makes the songs so great is the music. Jourgensen previously stated that this album was the fastest and hardest Ministry record to date. He was right. The guitar playing is so face melting fast it borders on the line of speed metal. The solos really leave you in awe as they race against the other notes on the fretboard. But after a while this can get tiring since the thrashing is featured in every track except for the last one. The album probably would’ve fared better if there was more variety in the style and pace of the music. Otherwise, the music is heavy, aggressive, and violent like their past records.
One thing that hasn’t changed about the band is they are not afraid to tackle political issues. Since they can no longer comment on the reign of Bush, they have moved on to other topics, such as as drug abuse, the occupy movement and voting. Even though their views are heard loud and clear in the songs it never gets to the point where you’re rolling your eyes saying shut up already. They make sure to rock out while tackling the issues, so the album never gets boring or repetitive. They also make sure to get their point across without shoving their message down the listener’s throat.
Another thing that hasn’t changed about the band is their use of samples. That tradition continues on this album with snippets from speeches and interviews regarding political issues. At this point, samples are expected of Ministry albums, but here it feels like they went a bit overboard. There are some tracks like “Relapse” where it seems like the song is mainly made up of samples, rather than lyrics. There’s a certain point on the album where the samples just feel too overused. We get that you’re saying drug abuse is bad. We don’t need three different speech samples explaining this to us.
Overall the album gets 7.5/10. While it’s not their best work it’s still a pretty good album, though it’s not the comeback album they were hoping for. It shows that the band hasn’t lost their attitude or political views. The music will definitely get you pumped and headbanging. This probably is the fastest record the band has done so far and while it does make the music great, the racing guitar can tire you out. All the songs are pretty good; there’s not a moment where the album gets boring. You can leave this record on without skipping a track (maybe you’ll just fast forward the rant on the opening track). If the band keeps going at this rate and maybe focus a bit more for their next album, then it will truly get noticed.
What did you think about Ministry’s comeback album? Does the band still have it or do they need to give it a rest? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.