There are some people who believe I should be mad that Ministry decided to come out of retirement after I made the trek to Chicago for some of their final U.S. shows in 2008. In all honesty, when the final notes of “End Of Days” rang out on 2007’s The Last Sucker, I was heartbroken knowing I would never hear another note of new Ministry music. That said, the announcement late last year that Al Jourgensen had reactivated Ministry for not only a small tour but for an entire album’s worth of new material filled my heart with so much joy that I didn’t even take a second to become bitter at being fooled by their supposed “retirement”.

It’s 2012 and Relapse is set to be released at the end of March during the year of the upcoming apocalypse. Do Ministry still have the chops to bring on a fitting soundtrack? Oh my Uncle Al, yes! Relapse is relentless in its unbridled fits of rage. You know, the way a Ministry record should sound. Joining recent Ministry mainstays Tommy Victor and Tony Campos (Who will not be on the upcoming “DeFibrillaTouR” dates due to Prong) in the studio (And on the upcoming tour) are Rigor Mortis’ Casey Orr and Mike Scaccia (Who has played off and on with Jourgensen since the ’90’s). All of the players involved absolutely bring the shredding. The only one I have any pity for here is Prong drummer Aaron Rossi who’ll be replicating this madness live later in the year. After you hear this, you’ll feel bad for him too.

Relapse starts off with a riff indicative of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” (Which Ministry covered in 2010) as Uncle Al delivers a spoken word diatribe on the pratfalls of being a living artist in the music industry today. Once this song kicks in, though, you better watch out. Like most of Relapse, it’s fast, furious, and unforgiving. It also manages to tie things over from The Last Sucker with a little sing-song “Roadhouse Blues” in the breakdown thus bringing things full circle.

If you’ve been following along on the FB page as we’ve been re-posting the “Making of Relapse” webisodes then you should be somewhat familiar with “Double Tap”. In full, it’s Ministry incarnate. It’s the nasty little brother of “Senor Peligro” invoking the thrashing Ministry gave you on Psalm 69. “Freefall” is akin to “Hero” and the cover of S.O.D.’s “United Forces” is a sublime take on the punk-metal classic.

Besides being unrelenting in the heavy department, longtime fans are going to notice a lot more melody (Well, Al’s version of melody) and a lot more keys throughout. The prime example being first single “99 Percenters” with subtle keys harkening back to Ministry’s more electronic years in the late ’80’s. “Kleptocracy” is another great one that’s got a catchy chorus and a real melodic guitar line. Closer “Blood Lust” reminds me of “Worm” off  Houses of the Mole’ with its down home country twang although “Blood Lust” is decidedly more rifftatsic.

When it comes to “comeback” albums, you don’t get much better than Ministry’s Relapse. I could honestly spend a post talking about each song on here because they’re so good but I don’t have enough of a brain left seeing as Relapse has melted most of it. If you were ever a fan of Ministry, then Relapse is for you.

Relapse is out on March 27th through AFM/13th Planet Records.

Grade: A

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