Mar 2024 31

Category: Industrial / Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 2024-03-01
Author: Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)


“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Although the common rhetoric has been that Al Jourgensen writes his best material when a Republican is holding the Presidential office, longtime fans of MINISTRY continue to debate the merits of those albums that were created in the midst of Democratic administrations. This is understandable given that the social, political, and cultural issues that the band has been addressing persist and are thus an ongoing source of inspiration. So, here we have MINISTRY’s sixteenth studio effort, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES, whose nine tracks take on a multitude of sociopolitical topics, delivered by way of the band’s signature thrashing industrialized metal. Let’s face it – this is a MINISTRY album, and if the last 30+ years have been any indication, then you have a good idea of what you’re getting.

Of course, this isn’t to imply that the album is a mere regurgitation of past glories or a rehash of the last several releases; oh, the trademarks are there – programmed synths pulsate with fractured and mangled samples that summarize the status quo, topped off with the band’s aggressive metallicized blend of styles. On top of that, Jourgensen usually takes the lead with his fervorous wails and chants, bringing in a few guests to add some instrumental and occasional vocal flavor. Such is the case in “Aryan Embarrassment,” as Liz Walton’s robotic recitations of “The Jews will not replace us / Nazis replace us instead” gives rise to Jello Biafra’s rhythmic diatribes against white supremacy; naturally, this song is rich with Lard energy, Billy Morrison adding some guitars to a slow, heavy, percussive track that is sure to remind many of Filth Pig. On the other hand, “B.D.E.” (“Big Dick Energy”) starts the album with a grinding and guttural attack on toxic masculinity, before “Just Stop Oil” chugs along with a locomotive fury not unlike that of “Stigmata” or “Burning Inside,” the clean solos evoking images of surfers on tidal waves of oil, while the thrashy and catchy “Goddamn White Trash” is pure MINISTRY, aided by Pepper Keenan; sadly, the latter track is somewhat diluted by the muffled distortion tone, though it does allow the bass, synths, and samples to shine through. The same can be said of “TV Song 1/6 Edition,” which is less the noisy onslaught of media hyperreality overload that one might expect given past entries in the series, favoring a more structured and lyrical approach that isn’t quite as satisfying as it should be, though hardly a bad song.

But from here, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES goes into a stronger second half as “New Religion” sees Jourgensen delivering some very hooky descending harmonies that are simply wonderful in their execution, elevating what could’ve been a standard MINISTRY song into something more memorable. “It’s Not Pretty” is notable for it’s progression from a doom-laden acoustic intro to something more psychedelic once the drums and guitars kick in; then the horn section and Dez Cuchiara’s soulful vocals bring things into an almost grimly whimsical cabaret territory that continues onto the bluesier “Cult of Suffering,” as Eugene Hütz’s sneering vocals perfectly encapsulate the song’s themes of false idol worship, Charlie Clouser’s keyboards and the vocal interplay of Cuchiara and Victoria Espinoza adding a processional atmosphere in the coda. The album concludes with a faithful cover of Fad Gadget’s “Ricky’s Hand,” which MINISTRY has been performing live on the recent tours, and serves as an effective callback to the band’s earlier era… and perhaps an indication of what’s to come with the purported re-recordings of tracks from With Sympathy… maybe?

As stated, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES is a MINISTRY album, and not a terrible one at that. Oh, the detractors’ complaints will surely abound – be they for Jourgensen’s assiduously progressive and “woke” views, or simply for MINISTRY once again failing to improve upon or surpass past efforts, which is as we all know an impossible feat. But there’s much to respect in still thriving on an established style and production standard, and when any band lasts as long as MINISTRY has, there’s an almost perverse delight in knowing they still possess enough power to affect the audience so virulently. No, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES doesn’t offer much new, but… do we really need it to? “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Track list:

  1. B.D.E.
  2. Goddamn White Trash
  3. Just Stop Oil
  4. Aryan Embarrassment
  5. TV Song
  6. New Religion
  7. It’s Not Pretty
  8. Cult of Suffering
  9. Ricky’s Hand

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