Only Action Bronson, the ample Queens, NY, lover man with a penchant for piff and puttanesca, could have made Blue Chips. A loose concept record tracking Bronsolini's borough excursions in explicit, rib-splitting rap detail, it's a vivid novella - like he's channelling a less sad sack Misha Vainberg, the fat, fly Russian protagonist of Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. Except, as Bronson'll have you know, he's Albanian.
And, we're back. Four years after leader Al Jourgensen put Ministry to rest, supposedly for good, Relapse crawls out of the sewer. Recovery from a serious illness, and thinking the Occupy movement needed an angrier soundtrack are two of the reasons for the rebirth, but the validation is Relapse itself. This is a harder and faster-than-usual album from the group, and yet there's also a heavier element of control throughout, as Jourgensen holds the reigns tighter, guiding this industrial-thrash monster down a speedy track without going over the edge.
Al Jourgensen is a metal demi-god, with more lives than Keith Richards. From humble New Wave beginnings and fake British accents, to being industrial music’s central hub for all things anti-Bush, the Ministry front man makes Death his bitch and the letter ‘W’ his alliterative slave, while repeatedly dating his audible output without shedding an ounce of edge. Relapse intends to capitalize on these fun facts — what could possibly go wrong? While a lot can be said about aggressive consistency, Jourgensen and company have, in the era of Obama, required change of their own variety.
We're a long way from 1981, when Ministry first broke on the scene as a dark, goth-y, synth-pop, new wave band. Singles like "(Everyday is) Halloween" and "Over the Shoulder" kicked-off a generation of danceable industrial music that would influence industrial and metal bands in equal measure. As Ministry developed a heavier sound, their pop aspects gave way to speedy, computer-sounding riffs.
Candid admission: I was a full-tilt goth kid. And as such, Ministry occupied a good chunk of my teenage listening years. Come to think of it, one of my favourite memories of the 1990s was witnessing my friend’s then-two-year-old son dressed in plaid shirt and ripped jeans, moshing to 'Jesus Built My Hotrod' on the living room hook rug. Growing up in a relatively conservative and isolated city, there was something so tantalizingly transgressive about their industro-metal hybrid aesthetic, and forthright interventions into taboo topics like politics, religion, sex and drugs.