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Thursday, February 16 2012 23:32

MINISTRY - RELAPSE (Album Review)

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Originally Published January 22, 2012 on Kik Axe Music.

It's been nearly four years since MINISTRY performed what were then touted as their ''final'' live shows. Always a skeptic when it comes to bands calling it a day, I was one of those with the mindset of ''they'll be back,'' and while I was disappointed to have missed their three-night run here in Chicago, it's 2012 and the opportunity has presented itself once more. Indeed, Al Jourgensen is back with a familiar band of ''experienced wingmen'' for what is undoubtedly one of the best MINISTRY offerings to come along in quite some time.

ministrycoverSet for release on March 27 via AFM/13th Planet, RELAPSE gets the band back together - including Tony Campos (STATIC-X, ATTIKA 7) and Casey Orr (GWAR, RIGOR MORTIS) on bass, Tommy Victor (PRONG, DANZIG) and Mike Scaccia (RIGOR MORTIS, REVOLTING COCKS) on guitars, with engineer Sammy D’Ambruoso - and picks up where 2007's THE LAST SUCKER off. As 'SUCKER represented the end of the George W. Bush administration, RELAPSE is the sonic companion for the first four years under President Barack Obama.''Everyone seems to think I write real sh***y music when a Democrat's in office,'' said Jourgensen to Billboard magazine back in 2006 - something that may have held true for the Clinton years, under which Al birthed both FILTH PIG and DARK SIDE OF THE SPOON, a pair of albums that aren't exactly essential to the MINISTRY legacy. For RELAPSE, that tradition no longer applies.
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With Ghouldiggers, Jourgensen is in rare form as he name-drops numerous members of the infamous "27 Club'' of deceased musicians - Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix - and the big business of cashing-in on dead rockers. ''You make more money off the carcass that is dead,'' goes the tale prior to the battle cry of "I'm not dead yet!" ringing out with repeated ferocity. Winehouse, for one, was barely cold by the time her label was rushing her first post-humous release to market last month, not to mention the recording of this song as well.

DSC 4523-1439057938-OThe killing of al-Qaeda leader and hiding enthusiast Osama Bin Laden gets the sonic treatment on Double Tap, while Freefall looks back on a lifetime of substance abuse and addiction with questionable thought - making this listener question the true meaning of RELAPSE, despite drugs being publicly taken off the table as a reason. Musically, Freefall is not-so-different from the songs found on the landmark PSALM 69 album from 1992. It's classic MINISTRY.

A cover of S.O.D.'s United Forces (from their 1985 SPEAK ENGLISH OR DIE) takes a song that's still relevant 27 years since it's release and expands upon it - with the MINISTRY version clocking in at roughly three times the length of the original. Add a little bonus Milk at the end, and fans are in for a treat.

MINISTRY manages to prove that they are not immune to the trappings of releasing one of an album's worst tracks as a single on 99 Percenters. A protest song for the "Occupy Movement," 99 Percenters falls flat musically, and from a lyrical perspective feels unfinished. The title track, however, is solid as hell - another classic throwback that finds the band balancing the groove with their straight-forward military charge. A "Defibrillator Remix" very reminiscent of the early 90's techno-infused "remix wars" lands in the closing spot on deluxe editions of the album.

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Near the end of the album lies what plays as both a message and an order... Get Up Get Out n' Vote. This should've been the final track, and in an iTunes-world that's an easy fix to make in terms of playlist order. It's an election year, and if RELAPSE is a new chapter for MINISTRY, then what happens this November may well dictate what happens next.

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Reviewed from an advance copy provided to THE ROCK FATHER™ by AFM/13th Planet Records. 

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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