Ministry - Moral Hygiene
Nuclear Blast
Industrial Metal
1 songs (47:10)
Release year: 2021
Ministry, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The now dated cliché about Ministry releases and Republican presidencies took something of a beating after the Trump regime produced solely album number 14, the wildly awful AmeriKKKant. It was the sort of incoherent rage that you'd expect from a nonplussed artistic establishment that was no doubt expecting President Clinton, instead being thrust into something unique and, whatever else anyone can say about Trump, not at all what was priced in. Given a little more time, no doubt helped by Covid lockdowns, and a Moral Hygiene will surface - an album far more suited as artistic counter to Trumpian times, albeit one delayed and thus more than a little defanged, particularly as it comes to us in the tenth month of Joseph Robinette Jr's reign. How should we classify it, then, given its release date but also given that it has apparently been in production for three years? Yet another victim of this benighted pandemic?

If so, then a certain amount of forgiveness will be expected, but this still doesn't match up to peerless past examples like the George W Bush trilogy or earlier classics. If Moral Hygiene is a good album it's because you're comparing it to the likes of AmeriKKKant and From Beer to Eternity, and if you forget that those albums were quite poor then sure, this is the best Ministry album since 2007's The Last Sucker. It has life, experimentation, and fun, kicking ass to listen to and actually entertaining rather than drearily reminding you how much better Al Jourgensen and co (here including former Soulfly man Roy Mayorga and ex-Tool bassist Paul D'Amour, and thankfully without the disgraced Sin Quirin) used to be. Hell, losing the lengthy, far too serious diatribes from AmeriKKKant in favour of more immediate industrial rocking immediately elevates it, and given how quickly opener Alert Level launches into a groovy stomper you're immediately relieved, even if it is more restrained musically and dated thematically than it could be with similarities to older Prodigy material and Greta goddamn Thunberg samples.

That's perhaps the sharpest criticism you could make of Ministry in 2021 - the 40 year old band and over 60 year old Jourgensen are not as secure in their position atop the cultural zeitgeist as perhaps once they were. Yet as Moral Hygiene progresses it's clear that the band have taken a little broader approach in term of influences, post-punk icons like Killing Joke here, classic rock there. The harmonica and cut-up sampling on Good Trouble give it a classic Ministry vibe that's still enjoyable even if you're a George W era fan, and the chuggy, 90s industrial vibe to Disinformation works despite everything. The sitar strums and percussion on Broken System are a welcome change, and the experimental near-funk of Death Toll is fun for the first listen if very skippable if you're resistant to the more experimental side of the band. There are some real stinkers present, like the utterly boring and meandering We Shall Resist and closer TV Song #6, a thrashy riff drowned in samples and a retread of past glories.

The best tracks are the most disconnected - the crossover thrashiness of Sabotage is Sex, with the inimitable Jello Biafra on vocals, might not fit into the surrounding tracks particularly well but it's a very welcome injection of vim and punk energy even with the sombre acoustic strums forming a hefty part of its musical base to great atmospheric effect. The same goes for Stooges cover Search and Destroy, slower and measured but very intense and definitely a highlight. Few would fail to miss that the album begins to drag in the second half, and it's not unfair to query why Ministry albums need to be nearly 50 minutes long in the year of our lord 2021, let alone to wonder how many years the shtick of rearranged presidential samples will work - the weakest part of the otherwise fun acoustic-enhanced post-punk of Believe Me. Those who have stuck with the band throughout everything will be pleasantly surprised by the best parts of Moral Hygiene, but it's still quite an argument to state that this is evidence that Al J should have kept it going instead of retiring as with the original plan. Can you combat the political realities of 2021 with the musical tools of the early 90s? This is an argument that says yes, but few will be shocked to find this assault on Trumpism oddly toothless, and it's still not a great argument in favour of the ever-weakening life support system that keeps Ministry somehow alive. The highlights are, for all that, superb.

Killing Songs :
Alert Level, Sabotage is Sex, Search and Destroy
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Ministry that we have reviewed:
Ministry - From Beer to Eternity reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Ministry - Relapse reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Ministry - Psalm 69 reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Ministry - Filth Pig reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Ministry - Cover Up reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 10 reviews click here
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