Ministry – Moral Hygiene (Album Review)

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How concerned are you? 

Not many bands know how to make a statement quite like Ministry, who have long brandished tenets of antifascism, staunch distaste of political corruption, and strong belief in equal rights. Given both their extensive history as industrial metal pioneers and the tempest of 2020, there was little question that founding member and front-man Al Jourgensen would soon step up to the mic to recount the last eighteen months. With blistering and aggressive riffage, “Moral Hygiene” tears through the wreckage and devastation of a broken world to make a statement while affirming Ministry’s legacy in industrial metal. 

There are a number of familiar voices alongside the fabled Jourgensen on the album, although their features aren’t always in song. “Moral Hygiene” is stuffed to the brim with voiceovers, distant fragments of divisive politicians and newscasters cutting through the harsh electronic front. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is the politely-named “Disinformation,” sporting a number of iconic (or infamous) voices of the last year – as though anyone could forget the precise intonation of the utterance “fake news.” While some statements are clearly audible, at other times they seem to die before they break the surface, such as the staticky start to “Good Trouble.” The consistency of integrating this element throughout the album really ties “Moral Hygiene” together, and mirrors the constant flow of 24/7 news with uncanny accuracy. Similarly, a number of guest artists fit right into the mix, including contributions from    

At no point does the listener feel inclined to question Ministry‘s strength as the band enters its fourth decade. Jourgensen has taken the slow march into his 60’s, but nothing in the ironclad vocal performance or constant intensity would leave anyone doubting his continued skill. He displays a variety of talent on “Moral Hygiene,” including a “throwback” to his earlier vocal style on “Believe Me.” The rest of the band marches flawlessly in line with their leader, with a particular nod to drummer Roy Mayorga for punctuating strings and electronic elements alike with precise percussive flair and guiding varied tempos with ease. 

Some tracks bring the fire up front, such as the brilliant hook and hearty bass lines on “Sabotage is Sex,” while others take a more meandering path through the sinister. “Search and Destroy” (The Stooges cover) puts on a display of the darker sort. This versatility across “Moral Hygiene” and its unwavering metallic edge are two factors that contributes to its staying power, even if the industrial components aren’t particularly explorative. The entirety of the album appears to fit comfortably within Ministry’s prior work without serving listeners re-hashed chords, but doesn’t come across as terribly inventive either. It is moments like the catharsis and urge to shout along with the resounding chorus on “Sabotage is Sex” that keeps listener engagement at its peak, full of enthusiasm and vigor. 

Although the whole of the album makes a strong statement in both its lyrical content and tone (perhaps to the abandonment of subtlety), it takes a noticeably darker turn in the latter half. “We Shall Resist” crawls along, dragging its melody across burning wreckage with every rasping line, muting instruments beneath a sea of pure industrial ambiance. There is something haunting about it, the sensation that something is “off,” yet this is undoubtedly part of its design as a rallying cry. It’s precursor “Broken System” begins slowly, all but teasing the listener of what is yet to come as strings reverberate over slowly mounting percussion. The opening verse delivers some of the most splintered vocals from Jourgensen yet, and crisp cymbals serve as a perfect compliment to his tormented roars. Closing track “Death Toll” is the most sobering of all, a final nod to the impacts of COVID-19 and the smoldering remains of other unrest as deaths pile up to this day.  

Of the many timely themes to “Moral Hygiene,” the disparate voice in “Alert Level” summarizes it best: the future looks bleak. But the future is far from bleak for industrial metal, as long as Ministry is still on the menu.

Released By:
Release Date: October 2st, 2021
Genre: Industrial Metal

Musicians:

  • Al Jourgensen / Vocals, Guitars, Programming, Keyboards
  • John Bechdel / Keyboards
  • Cesar Soto / Guitars
  • Roy Mayorga / Drums
  • Paul D’Amour / Bass
  • Monte Pittman / Guitars

“Moral Hygiene” Track-listing:

  1. Alert Level
  2. Good Trouble
  3. Sabotage Is Sex
  4. Disinformation
  5. Search And Destroy
  6. Believe Me
  7. Broken System
  8. We Shall Resist
  9.  Death Toll
  10. TV Song #6 (Right Around The Corner Mix)

8.3 Great

"Moral Hygiene" is as much of a wake-up call as it is salt in fresh wounds, carrying modern messages amidst the weathered fury of Ministry's unique industrial edge.

  • Musicianship 8
  • Songwriting 8
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9
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