Ministry - _Rio Grande Blood_
(13th Planet / Megaforce, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
When Ministry unleashed the proverbial bunker-buster that was their _Houses of the Mole_ opus back in 2004, it served as a deft slap in the face to anyone that had previously thought Al Jourgensen to be out for the count. Taking its cue from the dire state of affairs in the United States political scene at the time, it was both an intelligent and highly vitriolic rant set to some of the most incensed music that the band had committed to disc up to that point. Two years on, and with a member of the Bush family still occupying the White House, you could therefore bet your bottom dollar that its follow would be something of a rather feral affair.Certainly _Rio Grande Blood_ has no shortage of aggression, and if its predecessor was a blistering critique of the Republican administration, the cleverly edited sample that heralds the start of the record sets the tone for an acid-laced diatribe that makes _Houses of the Mole_ sound like a love letter by comparison. The music is fittingly caustic. At times barreling forward with an almost thrash-like impetus, as it does on "Senor Peligro" and the Grammy-nominated "The Great Satan", you'd almost be tempted to think that Ministry has gone all Slayer on us. But while some songs may betray a fondness for _Reign in Blood_, the attitude is vintage Jourgensen; and for the duration of the record, he has both middle fingers held high, even when songs like "Fear (Is Big Business)" drop the tempo, if only temporarily, to a crawl.From time to time, consistency is an issue however. Where _Houses of the Mole_ was virtually flawless -- at least in my mind -- there are moments where _Rio Grande Blood_ tends toward being just a little too self-indulgent for its own good. While this has arguably always been Ministry's Achilles' heel, drivel like Sgt Major's inane military rant on "Gangreen" is too juvenile for even Ministry to pull off without looking stupid. Nevertheless, _Rio Grande Blood_ is a sterling effort -- not quite the album of the year contender that its predecessor was, but a highly entertaining
sequel all the same.
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