Forty years. Fourteen albums. Death, drugs, drinking through dick piercings and a near-military campaign against some raccoons in his back garden. Whatever Al Jourgensen does, and by extension what Ministry does, it’s well hard.
The 15th entry in his industrial metal oeuvre finds Uncle Al in a curious spot. Just like the band’s post-millennial tirades against then-US President George W Bush, the past few years have been spent flinging shit at Donald Trump. The pile-on continues, taking aim at a former head of state now banned from Twitter and itching for a 2024 re-election. It’s too acerbic to slide into ‘Old Man Yells At Cloud’ territory, but The Donald’s constant presence, largely in the form of spliced-up samples, creates an uncanny listening vacuum that feels out-of-date to casual, er, fans of politics.
Musically, Moral Hygiene has no trouble peacocking its toupee and fake tan. Bigly. Traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation and harmonica pop up as per, and TV Song #6 flaunts the staccato, thrashy abrasion you came for. That familiarity’s used as foil for Sabotage Is Sex; stirring chords and soprano backing vocals fight against ex-Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra, deploying his full vibrato atop swelling choral drama and Wild West whistling. It’s properly moving, as is the lift in Believe Me, where Al’s poppier past life is revisited, albeit briefly, firing symphonic keys and acoustic guitars into the chorus like R.E.M. stepping on a landmine.
Of course, it still ticks the Ministry boxes; Al’s flangy vocals sound like he’s shouting into the same old goldfish bowl. But aside from lead single Alert Level and a gain-hungry cover of The Stooges’ Search And Destroy, he’s often employed as texture rather than slogan-a-minute assaults. While the record dips after Believe Me, there’s still enough for diehards. Plus, it’s going to absolutely bang live, innit?
Moral Hygiene is out October 1 via Nuclear Blast