Ministry Relapse

We're a long way from 1981, when Ministry first broke on the scene as a dark, goth-y, synth-pop, new wave band. Singles like "(Everyday is) Halloween" and "Over the Shoulder" kicked-off a generation of danceable industrial music that would influence industrial and metal bands in equal measure. As Ministry developed a heavier sound, their pop aspects gave way to speedy, computer-sounding riffs. That transformation happened in 1988, and that's exactly where the band remain today. Despite some bona fide industrial classics, like "N.W.O.," "Burning Inside" and "Just One Fix," the band have struggled to retain their relevance since the '90s. Relapse is Ministry's 12th album, and not much has changed. The press material has lead man Al Jourgensen declaring, "Not only is it the best record I've ever done, I'd put it in the top 50 records of all time." It's hard to imagine grander hyperbole applied to a more irrelevant record. One of Ministry's saving graces has always been their ability to remain slightly tongue-in-cheek, a band with a political message that also have fun taking the piss once in a while. Relapse is less fun and more serious than some of their previous material. Jourgensen's health problems and addiction issues (he's been clean for a decade) have taken a toll on the band's light-hearted side. There's no "Jesus Built My Hotrod" on Relapse. Instead there's plenty of "I'm still here and hopefully relevant" chorusing (this is literally the case on "Ghouldiggers"), anti-establishment dialogue sampling and cyber metal riffing. Sadly, Relapse sounds like an uninspired band ripping off, and attempting to sound like, classic Ministry. The album's best elements include some truly brilliant solo work, which make up a refreshing section of nearly every song. After ten forgettable numbers that sound fairly similar, the album ends with an unnecessary remix of "Relapse" that would be completely at home at a cyber goth dance party. (13th Planet)