~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
Ministry’s latest and eighth full-length studio release was unleashed upon the music world this past February. Many readers probably already have this album and some of you may have caught them on tour this past spring. Besides being dramatically behind on reviews, my main excuse for delaying this review is that I was hoping after a few months of listening to this disc, I would have had more to say about it. And to be honest, I still don’t really know what to say. That does not mean however that it isn’t any good. It just doesn’t really inspire that many words. It does however make me want to smash things and light people on fire, which I think should testify, at least in some respects, to the album’s success.
The rumours around ‘the scene’ since this album’s release have been along the lines of “Dude, its like Psalm 69 part 2!” Which is really not true. But I have heard this from a number of different sources, even before the disc hit the shelves. Granted, Animosity is the most aggressive album since the band’s most popular 1991 release. It’s a cold and very noisy album, the shrill guitars buzzing along with a piercing fuzz-box distortion while mechanical drumming is occasionally fused with live organic percussion. Jourgensen’s vocal spectrum on the album ranges from his familiar gruff yet intelligible growls, to hollow processed screams and a few reverberating ‘melodic’ parts (a la Godflesh) – all of which are very effective.
As a fan of Ministry, I was satisfied with the release. It’s something I can listen to and enjoy while stuck in rush hour traffic and it does recall their earlier work, but truthfully, I don’t think it resembles anything they have ever done before. It definitely sounds like them, but it is also a very contemporary, fresh sounding record. But from a critical standpoint, a release’s success cannot be obtained by aggression alone and the album seems to be fueled by frustration and anger alone. Hooks are just as important for heavy bands as they are for melodic ones. And “Animosity” begins to run out of steam toward the end of the album. There are a few points on the disc where you can’t help but say, “Well, its fabulous to hear from you again and that you are pissed off, Mr. Jourgensen. But now what?”
There are quite a few highlights, such as the hostile attack of a title track and Al’s vocal performances on “Unsung” especially. “The Light Pours Out of Me” features an interesting arrangement of snappy upbeat drumming, percussive bass, and an almost ‘happy’ guitar riff that pushes the song forward into more accessible territory. The epic nine-minute closing track “Leper” has a somewhat eerie, sprawling vibe to it that caught my attention but the song never really goes anywhere or adds another potential “Scarecrow” or “Cannibal Song” to the band’s repertoire. The remaining tracks all have their moments, be it a striking guitar screech, frantic drumming, or a cool vocal part – but otherwise, there are just as many creative valleys as there are peaks.
The album was much heavier than I expected it to be, so much so that I was initially somewhat worried that weekend club kids who claim to Ministry fans would have been put off by it. But then again, “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix” were pretty heavy and I still am surprised that those songs did so well with club kids that seem to have an aversion to heavy guitars and guttural vocals. Perhaps in a few years, a few of these songs will reveal the same kind of longevity. I doubt that most Ministry fans would be disappointed in this release.
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